The Catacombs of Paris is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Paris. The Catacombs of Paris is also known as Catacombes de Paris and it is where approximately six million Parisians are laid to rest. The remains were from cemeteries gathered from 18th century to 19th century, when the cemeteries in Paris were closed because of insalubrity. Inside the Catacombs of Paris are the underground labyrinths and corridors of galleries which are decorated with bones in a “romantico-macabre” style. The Catacombs of Paris is also the official entrance to a tunnel network that measures 3,000 km that runs under the city of Paris. However, this is also the same reason why large buildings and skyscrapers couldn’t be built in Paris–the catacombs are underground so there will be no space for the foundations of huge buildings.
Things to see in The Catacombs of Paris
The entrance of the Catacombs of Paris has a stone portal that has an inscription of Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort (‘Halt! This is the Empire of the Dead’). As earlier mentioned, the walls of this underground tunnel and cemetery are artistically decorated with bones–one wall has a heart shaped-design filled with skulls while another room is shaped circularly with a central pillar at the center composed of “keg” bone, there are also some skulls that form a cross inside. Some of the bones present here are those of Marat, Robespierre, and their cronies, as well as those of other Parisian citizens.
One of the attractions that people often see first is the model of Port-Mahon fortress of France created by a former Quarry Inspector inside the catacombs. Later on, the catacombs was opened for a limited public viewing in 18th century and in 1874, it was opened to everyone on a regular basis.
Inside the Catacombs of Paris, there are rarely or sometimes even no guards at all, but people who are tempted to touch the bones must remember that it is not allowed. Some parts of the catacombs have very low ceilings that could make really tall people uncomfortable. Two long and narrow spiral stairways are also included in the tour inside so people must be careful with their choice of footwear. Ladies are not recommended to wear heels or stilettos, no matter how chic these are. There are some months that it rains a lot in Paris and some parts of the floor get wet with some puddles. There are also humid months that cold water accumulates on the ceiling of the Catacombs of Paris and it falls on the head of tourists.
Conditions and accessibility
The visitors allowed inside are just limited to 200 visitors per tour and entries could be stopped temporarily. The duration of the visit in Catacombs of Paris is 45 minutes, exploring a length of 2km. There are no toilets and cloakroom inside and the usual temperature is 14 degrees Celsius. The steps are specifically 83 steps up and 130 steps down. People who suffer from cardiac or respiratory weakness and nervous disease as well as very young children are not recommend to visit the catacombs. Moreover, children who are aged 14 and below must be accompanied by an adult.
People who want to visit in private groups must have a reservation in the service of Cultural activity of the Carnavalet Museum. However, for the private group, the minimum number of people is 10 and the maximum is 20.
Specifically, Catacombs of Paris is located in 1, avenue of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy in Paris.