Beneath the Streets: The Catacombs of Paris

I’ll admit, when I think of Paris, the catacombs are not the first thing that come to mind. I think of winding streets, decadent pastries, and the many sights that make Paris a world icon. With so much to see on our breakneck tour of the city, I’m surprised we had time at all to venture below street level and see one of the world’s largest burial sites. The bones of over six million people are housed here, in the very small part of the tunnel network that is open to the general public.

Paris Catacombs

Handheld audio guides are available for an additional charge at the tunnel entrance. I regret that I didn’t get to hear more details about the history of the catacombs or the lives of the people buried there. After waiting almost three hours in line just to reach the tunnel entrance, however, we agreed it was best to forge ahead without the guides slowing us down. I really do wish I had forked over a few extra Euros and taken the time to find out more about the site because…devoid of any explanation, it was really just an impressive collection of bones.

Paris Catacombs

We descended the stairs into the cool, damp passageways,┬áthe names of major streets etched into stone to indicate our location in Paris. Rather than tell you about the massive underground tomb, however, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Please forgive my dimly-lit photos – it’s dark down there and iPhones are apparently worthless for shooting in low light.

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs
Photo Credit: Michelle Tryon
Catacombs Michelle
The bones in the catacombs were relocated from several overflowing burial sites in Paris. Signs like this one designated where the bones had come from, and when they arrived in the catacombs. Photo Credit: Michelle Tryon

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs

Paris Catacombs Stairs

Ok, maaaybe I just really wanted an excuse to share an excessive amount of photos from our catacombs adventure – but can you blame me? The catacombs were interesting enough on their own, and I can only imagine how much more fascinating they would become with the addition of an audio guide – I know what I’ll be doing the next time I’m in Paris!



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