One of the more interesting, if not macabre attractions in Paris are the catacombs. It’s a definite must do especially if you are looking for something a little different. There are over 6 million remains house in the underground ossuaries in Paris. Moving the skeletal remains became a must when the ‘Cemetery of the Innocents, which had been in use for around 10 centuries, became a source of infection to the local people.
It was decided to move the remains to disused quarries and after the blessing and consecration in April 1786, the transfer of the remains began.
In the early part of the 19th century the ossuary aroused the curiosity of Count d’Artois, the future Charles X, visited, along with Ladies of the Court. The following year the ossuary was visited by Madame de Polignac and Madame de Guiche. Other notables to visit the remains are, Francis 1, the emperor of Austria who went down in 1814, and Napoleon III who visited the ossuary in 1860 with his son.
So read on to see how you can get to the Paris Catacombs for an interesting and eerie visit.
How to get to the Paris Catacombs
There are a few ways to get to the catacombs in Paris which we will describe below but the main thing to remember is to look for the huge statue of the Lion of Belfort memorial in the centre of the road. If you see this then you know you are in the right place.
- Once you see the statue of the lion look around for a small building. You will probably see a queue so that should be a clue that you are in the right place.
- Depending on the time of the year, it may take up to 2 hours to get to the top of the queue. We were in Paris in mid March and the queue wasn’t too bad. It took us about 40 minutes. They only let a maximum of 200 people in at any one time which is excellent as you will feel more relaxed walking around inside and feel less hurried but it means the queue is a bit slow.
- The train system in Paris is excellent. They say that no matter where you are in Paris, you are never more than 500 yards from a metro station. The closest metro stop to the catacombs is the Denfert Rochereau Metro station. It is across the road from the entrance to the catacombs.
By Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
- We used the L’Tour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus to get to the catacombs. Take the orange line and get off the bus at stop 33. When you get off the bus turn immediately right and walk up the street until you see a large statue of a lion. The entrance to the catacombs is around this area.
How to Get Back to the Entrance
- When you exit from the catacombs you are deposited in a totally different street from where you started. It can be confusing figuring out how to get back.
This is what you need to do.
- When you exit out of the door turn right and walk up the street. Then take the first right and keep walking till you see the statue of the lion again. You will be back at the entrance when you see it. It’s quite a walk, so be prepared.
How Much Does it Cost?