France

3 of the best Paris catacombs tours

by Paul Stafford  |  Published November 19, 2019

Many people never realise, as they’re sauntering around the suave French capital city, that millions of human bones are contained in miles of underground passages beneath their feet. The Paris Catacombs are both macabre and unrelentingly fascinating. It is thought that the remains of six million people are contained in these subterranean ossuaries, which were started in the 18th century, and that the tunnel network is so extensive that people have been lost down there for days. You can chart certain events and tragedies along the route down there, with solemn memorials to the dead of various uprisings and plagues.

Over the decades, the Paris Catacombs have become one of the city’s star attractions, but the lack of space in the tunnels, and the desire to limit the potential for vandalism, which sadly is not unheard of, means that queues are quick to form. In fact, they frequently stretch well away from the entrance near Denfert-Rochereau metro station in the south of the city. Waits can sometimes be up to two or three hours, so a skip-the-line tour is the best way to avoid that, while also getting the beneficial expertise and knowledge of a local or audio guide.