The Paris Catacombs is a major site of dark tourism in the City of Lights. This underground ossuary is made up of the remains of about six million people. By the end of the 18th Century, when the inner city cemeteries of Paris were closed, the bones of the millions of dead people were reburied here. This place has been one of the world’s greatest sites of dark tourism for about two centuries.
The entrance to the underground passage is about 20 meters underneath the street, and you would have to descend down about 130 steps to reach this point. If you are traveling to this place by summer, ensure to carry extra clothing, as it would be very cold down there. The tourist circuit within the catacombs is only two kilometers long. After you climb up about 83 steps, you would reach another location.
The entrance of the catacombs is located at 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, which is near the Denfert Rochereau Metro station. The place could be easily identified by the long queue outside it. In this place, they only permit visitors to enter in batches so as to eliminate overcrowding, and hence, you should be prepared to wait for some time.
Once you get the tickets, you would be led down a spiral staircase. After descending down you would reach a succession of rooms that acts as a space for exhibition. In here, you would be able to learn more about the history and background of the place. You could also see several text panels written in French, English, and Spanish near the historic images.
You would pass through a number of long corridors in the catacombs. The cavern ceilings are low at some places, so tall travelers must always watch out for the ceiling. As you move on through the endless passages, you would see a well and a model of the fortress of Minorca, which was sculpted by a quarryman imprisoned there. It was the quarrymen, who dug the well for getting clean groundwater.
After a long walk, you would be able to see the entrance of the ossuary where a number of temporary exhibitions are usually held. The gate of the ossuary has an inscription “arrete, c’est ici l’empire de la mort” (stop, this is the empire of death) written on it. As you walk on, you would be able to see millions of stacked bones from floor to the ceiling.
This is a must-visit place for all dark tourism aficionados. The opening time is 10:00 am to 08:30 pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), and it remains closed on Mondays and certain holidays.