France :: The Catacombs of Paris

“Stop. This is the empire of death.”

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines, the ossuary was created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries.

Preparation work began not long after a 1774 series of gruesome Saint Innocents-cemetery-quarter basement wall collapses added a sense of urgency to the cemetery-eliminating measure, and from 1786, nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris’ cemeteries to a mine shaft opened near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.

So basically…
Paris’ population: “We have buried people too close to where we live and now they are tumbling about the pace like a freaking “Walking Dead”-scenario… We need somewhere to store all the stiffs.”
The rest of Paris’ population: “Hold my croissant.”

I can just imagine the carts full of dead corpses being shuffled through the streets and bones being chucked down the chutes… 6 million people are down there. Luckily for my OCD, someone cleaned the place up and now the bones are carefully positioned to make (rather morbid, yet decorative) features down here.


It’s definitely worth going. It’s less claustrophobic that I thought it would be and much better lit than I thought. It did not come across as dangerous at all and there were a bunch of kids down there who obviously thought it was amazing. Fun for all. BUT: order a fast track online for a given date. It was SO worth it to just walk straight past the line of hundreds of people. I went straight up to the fast track entrance and upon showing my ticket I was let in at 12 noon on the dot. I waited a total of 6 minutes because I was early.

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