Maybe the most tourist-ish thing I’ve ever done in Paris, but one of those trips a person just has to make at least once. History tells that Parisian cemeteries were seeing a lot of overflow in the 18th century, and it was decided that some of the bones should be excavated and arranged in the tunnels of southern Paris. Now days, if you’re in for a morbid and slightly spooky adventure, the Catacombs will serve you well.
The tour-able stretch of the tunnels spans a couple of kilometers, but there are rumours that there are actually over a hundred more kilometers of tunnels, housing all manner of strange goings-on. Trying to venture into those tunnels is nearly impossible, (where’s the entrance anyway?) not to mention illegal. But the idea is fun for the imagination.
Once tickets are purchased at the office (a small green building at 1, Avenue Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris), visitors will descend down a staircase and through a long, boneless hallway to the ossuary (home of the skeletons) – a vaguely creepy prequel for what’s coming. The rest is relatively self-explanatory. Dark, stone tunnels lined with thousands of bones and other curious structures. In wetter months, you might hear a little drip drop and here and there, accompanied by some small pools of water on the ground, which adds to the spook factor.
Touristy? Yes. An incredibly unique way to spend part of the day? Oui!
Les Catacombes are not nearly as much fun when other guests are crowding around. Best to go during the week, early in the day. You might even end up down there alone – if you dare. : )