Updated: Jul 12, 2018
So, I want to start off this post by acknowledging that I know my fascination with the non-living is probably not healthy. For as long as I can remember, I have been into archaeology (I event wanted to major in it in collage at one point), ghosts (which I go out of my way to try and encounter because I don't believe) and cemeteries. Though these topics may not be a go to when visiting with people, I definitely have a lot of books to support my fascination!
When planning the Paris portion of my Europe trip, I KNEW I had to visit the Catacombs! How fascinating that there are ACTUAL bones piled on top of each other under the streets of Paris.
What are the Catacombs:
The Catacombs of Paris is essentially a huge underground grave which holds remains of more than six million people! The underground grave was created to help eliminate the city's overflowing cemeteries. The catacombs underwent renovations that transformed them into a visit-able monument. Every few years, the bones are carefully counted and restacked to the state that you see when you visit.
Tips and Tricks:
Purchase a skip the line ticket
I cannot stress this enough! If you have limited time in Paris, you don’t have unlimited time to stand in the catacombs line. Sometimes the wait time can be 2+ hours since they can only let small groups in at a time. A skip the line ticket is well worth the 10 extra euros you will spend.
Get there early
Even with your skip the line ticket, the line can get a bit long. Get there as early as your skip the line ticket allows. The one we purchased allowed us to skip the line any time the catacombs were open. We got there close to opening and only waited 15 minutes to get in.
Get the audio guide
Don't you want to know what you are looking at? The audio guide here is well worth it and free. Looking at rows and rows of bones can get old, so being able to have a story to go along with it is super helpful.
You can take pictures
You CAN take pictures, just don't use the flash in the areas with bones. Its lit pretty well all things considering so you can get some pretty cool and ominous photos.
In the Catacombs:
Once you get past the line and get you audio tour, you will walk 130 steps down a super narrow spiral staircase for what feels like 20 minutes (it's more like 2 minutes). The temperature in the catacombs is around 57 degrees and feels a bit damp. Expect to spend about 45 minutes walking about 1 mile as long as you follow the audio guide. The fun part comes at the end when you have to walk up 83 stairs. You feel like it is never ending! I found this tour so fascinating and definitely recommend it.