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Paris Catacombs - Skulls

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The largest ossuary in the world

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Who is it for?

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Why you will love it?

"He who enters the Catacombs, enters the Empire of Death.” Probably the most popular of all the off the beaten path visits in Paris, the Paris Catacombs are not only the biggest ossuary in the world. Set in the tunnels of an ancient quarry, sculptures, wells and impressive structures can be seen along the 2km underground trail.

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About this place

Place Denfert-Rochereau, 75014
Line 4 / 6 - Denfert-Rochereau
Line B - Denfert-Rochereau

Wednesday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm
more less
Monday : Closed Tuesday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Wednesday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Thursday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Friday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Saturday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm Sunday : 10:00 am - 20:00 pm

Our Insiders' Article


The Paris Catacombs are the largest ossuaries in the world:  with approximately 6 million people buried here, the 2km (1.25 miles) tourist-permitted path represents only 1/800th of the total tunnel network under Paris. These ancient quarries also feature other fascinating curiosities such as sculptures, wells and 19th century consolidation constructions. A great experience for both history lovers and inquisitive visitors unafraid of the sight of human bones.

Making the most of it

Start waiting in line latest at 9am (even if the Paris Catacombs open at 10am) to avoid 3 hour lines: only 10 people can get in every 5 minutes, with a maximum of 200 people inside the tunnels

Bring a sweater: the temperature inside the Catacombs is 14°C (57°F) year round.

Keep fit: the 130 narrow spiral steps to descend and 83 steps back up are tough.

The exit is a couple of blocks to the south, rue Rémy Dumoncel. 


The ossuaires came into being in 1780 when all Parisian cemeteries were closed due to serious health issues and the remains of over 6 million people were transferred in the abandoned quarry tunnels, including many French historical figures. Only the bones in the front visible layer have been piled up in an artistic and esthetic way. Other places of interest inside the ossuary of the Paris Catacombs include the Samaritan Fountain (a well built in 1810), the Crypt of Sacellum (where rituals for the dead were performed) and carved stones with poems related to death.


The tunnels: dug to extract limestone for the construction of buildings up until the mid-18th century.

The sculptures of the Port-Mahon Fort, created by Décure, a quarry worker, from 1777 to 1782.

The “Bain de Pieds” (foot bath), a small well with incredibly clear water, used by former quarry workers for drinking purposes during the 18th century.

The “Passage des doubles carrières” (passage of the double quarries) is a very beautiful example of consolidation works done during the 18th century to avoid collapse. 


The cemetery of “Saints-Innocents” and its 2 million bodies was the first cemetery to be transferred to the Paris Catacombs in 1780. With major epidemics, wars and famine during that time, bodies piled to a point where the cemetery was nearly 2m (6,5 feet) higher than the street level! The 19th century immense modernization project of Paris (Haussmann Plan) led to the transfer of another 17 cemeteries, 145 monasteries and 160 religious areas with proper burial grounds to their final resting place in the Paris Catacombs.


The Paris Catacombs are the only parts of the ancient quarry tunnels that are open to the public.  But there are many other secret entries to this immense network of tunnels that only a few people know about. Other ossuaries exist in Paris, however are inaccessible, generally under existing cemeteries such as those of Père Lachaise and Montparnasse. Therefore, the Paris Catacombs are really an off the beaten path and unique area in Paris, well worth a visit.

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