- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit the Catacombs of Paris
Have you ever wanted to experience a strange and creepy but at the same time an interesting tour? Here is such a place that is called Catacombs of Paris.
The Paris Catacombs (or Catacombes de Paris, as they’re called in French) are a maze of tunnels and crypts underneath the city streets where Parisians placed the bones of their dead for almost 30 years. Prior to the creation of the Catacombs in the mid-1700s, residents buried their dead in cemeteries near churches as is still customary in most places.
But as the city grew, the cemeteries quickly ran out of space. Additionally, improper burial techniques often led to ground water and land near cemeteries becoming contaminated and spreading disease to those living nearby, so city officials moved to condemn all the cemeteries within city limits and move the bodies in those cemeteries elsewhere.
What’s particularly surprising about the Catacombs of Paris isn’t that they’re a tourist attraction in modern-day Paris – what’s surprising is that they started attracting visitors even before the last bones were moved in 1814, and they were already a major attraction just over 50 years later. In fact, in the late 1800s the larger underground crypt areas were even used as mini-concert halls!
The tour of the Catacombs is deep underground. The route walked is around 2 kms, about 1.25 miles and the average independent visit takes around 45 minutes.
You will first descend 130 steps down to the catacombs and then at the end its an 83 step climb to street level. There are no lifts and the tour is not suitable for those without full mobility. You wander the winding tunnels lined with the incredible collections of stacked bones and skulls. For those visiting independently you can hire an audio guide available in French, English and Spanish only.