Europe travel photos and information at Travel Signposts Les Catacombes de Paris: “Stop! This is the empire of death.”
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Unusual Paris Museums and Galleries

Catacombes of ParisCatacombes de Paris

Website: Catacombes de Paris
1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris
Tél. : 01 43 22 47 63
Fax : 01 43 22 48 17

Métro and RER B : Denfert-Rochereau
Bus : 38, 68
Open: Tuesday - Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
Entry: Adult: €5 Concession: €3.30 Children: €2.50
Guided visits (added to entry): €4,50 per person on Tuesdays at 10:30 am & Saturdays 3 pm

The entrance is just across the street from the Denfert-Rochereau metro stop. After you buy your ticket you go through the gate and descend 286 steps down a tight spiral staircase, so be prepared. The somewhat forbidding sign over the inside entrance warns: “Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la mort.” (“Stop! This is the empire of death.”).

Re-opened officially in June 2005, the Catacombes are an interesting if somewhat macabre underground exhibit of the final resting place of six million dead Parisians. You can wander through a recently re-opened (June 2005) network of tunnels 20 metres under the ground where the capital's unfortunate inhabitants were reburied as things got crowded up top.

Between the end of the 18th century and Haussmann's modernisation of Paris, bones from the capital's cemeteries were taken to the old Montrouge quarries, which became the Catacombes in 1810. Although entry to these tunnels was forbidden for years, and only some of them have been opened officially to the public, several groups (underground in every sense of the term) have been exploring them for decades.

"The arrangement of the bones brings death to light and a number of texts taken from a variety of traditional Western sources provide food for thought."

The unique bone collection of 5 to 6 million people covers an area of 11,000 square metres, but this is only a tiny portion of the 300 km of old mine corridors. Galleries are an average of 2.30 metres high, and the temperature is a constant 11°C during summer and winter.

Some Catacombes links:

Underground Paris : A cool virtual tour of the Paris Catacombes by Kevin Kelm

The Catacombs of Paris: Scott Fray's slideshow is artistic and well put together

Paris Underground: An unofficial tour of the Parisian catacombs.

Wikipedia : good historical background.

Next page : Musée Edith Piaf

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