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“Great Attraction / Great Price - Arrive Early”
Review of The Catacombs

The Catacombs
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Skip The Line Paris Catacombs Tour
Ranked #58 of 1,180 things to do in Paris
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: A genuine labyrinth in the heart of underground Paris, the Catacombs were fitted out in the galleries of former quarries. Twenty metres underground, the ossuary houses the remains of approximately six million Parisians, gradually transferred between the end of the 18th century and the mid 19th century, as the capital's cemeteries were closed for health reasons. Along a tangle of dark galleries, visitors discover a presentation of death with bones arranged in a romantic macabre decor. This unique site is a moving testimony to the history of Parisians and invites visitors on a timeless journey.
Reviewed March 11, 2014

My wife came across this attraction when we were looking for things to do on our 3 day stay in Paris; while a short part of our day, this is definitely an attraction we'll remember.

We stayed at the Hotel Cluny Sorbonne in the Latin quarter, making it very easy to hop on the RER B for a quick 10 minute train ride to the denfert-rochereau station; we exited onto the Place Denfert Rochereau and the Catecombs were right across the street.

We had heard from other reviews to ensure to arrive early (at least an hour before the opening time) to make sure you are able to get in. In March I figured we'd be pretty safe, but I'm very glad we made it there when we did (about 09:10); the line already had about 25-30 people in it, and by the time we made it actually opened, the line stretched back for a few blocks - eek.

Leung they started letting people in, it only took about 10-15 minutes before our turn came. I being 26, my wife 24, permitted us to pay half price admission (4€ each), make sure you have your ID to snag any discounts such as these.

We opted to do our own touring (i.e. No tour guide, no audio guide), and it was fine. From what I heard in passing a few groups, I felt like the tours were focused more on the stone formations and tectonic shifts rather than the ossuary portion.

The steps down were manageable; nothing too crazy, but there are 100+ of them; the climb back up boasts about the same. The walk through the tunnels is eery, and if you find yourself separated from the group, you can feel the ominous nature of the place, passing dark rooms that look like black holes with no end. I was able to snag a couple great photos of some of the stone work and hallways.

The ossuary comes up on you quick if you're not prepared for it: tunnels, tunnels, tunnels, BAM! Rooms and rooms of skulls and bones; like nothing my wife, nor I, had ever seen before. I got some great pictures, just be advised if you're coming equipped with a basic point/shoot digital camera, the lighting may be inadequate unless you hold your hands very steady (no flash allowed). Of course, that didn't stop a few groups from snapping/flashing away with their iPhones and small pocket cameras.

Also note that video is not permitted; I was ignorantly filming my wife as we passed through some of there rooms and was immediately greeted with a firm, "No video Monsieur" by one of the employees, whoops.

When you exit the final set of stairs, there's a little gift shop selling random skull/bones trinkets; obviously fed by a steady stream of American/British tourists, haha.

All in all, a great little stop that not many people care to venture south of the Tower for; I would recommend it to anyone wanting to get something a little less mainstream from their time in Paris. MAKE SURE YOU ARRIVE EARLY!

3  Thank Mark M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 11, 2014

While the history behind the catacombs was intriguing, I found them to be extremely macabre and monotonous. We arrived half an hour before the catacombs opened, and despite being the twelfth and thirteenth people in line we were denied access, rather rudely, to the 20 person tour. It turned out to be a blessing as the tour was in French and instead we were given English audio guides. However, that wasn't explained at the time and instead we were just told no and that we had to wait which spoiled our moods. The audio guide was helpful, but the points were not particularly well marked. The opening section is mostly about the geology of the area, it isn't until half way through the walk that you arrive in the catacombs themselves. While they do their best to keep the stories moving, it really is a long walk through a maze of stacked bones. Stop occasionally and think about the fact that those bones belonged to real people.

1  Thank Emily H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2014

My girlfriend and i left this to our last day in Paris and it was between the catacombs and the sacre coeur.We chose badly !

The small queue was deceiving , as we still had a 50 minute wait to get in .The cost is 8 euros per person.Its 130 odd staeps to go doen into a hall way with a few posters depicting the history of the catacombs , mostly written in French.

What follows is a seemingly endless walk through a dimly lit tunnel. Anyone over 5 foot 10 which have to hunch for large parts of the walk .Going through into the 'bone display' its all rather morbid and in my opinion disrespectful.

Despite warnings not to touch the human remains or use flash photography most people seemed to do whatever they pleased including making funny faces or cool hand gestures next to skulls.

I am used to death and gory scenes of devastation in my job , however , the whole experience felt grubby . The Parisienne experience is not enhanced by this visit.


3  Thank scott s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2014

I am a bit claustrophobic, but, adventurous too, so I'm glad I went. They only allow 200 people in over a 2 km tunnel. That's one person every 10m (30ft) therefore I never felt crowded or bunched up. It is kind of creepy to see all of these real bones right in front of you, however, that's makes the catacombs interesting. If you are more than 1.85m tall (6'1"), then be prepared to have to duck every once in a while. If you are more than 1.9m tall (6'3") then you'll be ducking a lot.
Another thing they don't mention. Most of the steps going down are in a spiral case. ALL of them going up are in a spiral case. You may be a bit dizzy at the top on your way out.

Recommendation no. 1) - Get there BEFORE opening time. Did you see how so many of the other reviews say to get there early? Well, unless you enjoy standing along the side of a Parisian street, then follow this recommendation. My hotel was within walking distance of the entrance so I casually went there around noon on a Saturday. I stood in line (basically in line with Orlybus stop; i.e. winding around the park) for about 10 minutes and came to the realization that I would not be at the entrance for another 2 hours. So I decided to come back on Sunday right as it opens. I mean, who gets up early on a Sunday morning anyway, right? So I arrived the next day exactly at 10am (opening time). The line was winding around just to about the same spot as the day before. Yuck! However, because they were still allowing the first two hundred people in we moved up and I made it to the entrance at 11:20am. Yes, One hour and twenty minutes. Luckily it was a sunny day. So plan on arriving by 9:30 and hopefully you'll only have a 30 minute wait.
Recommendation no. 2) If you plan to take pictures, bring a flashlight so you may illuminate the subject of your picture. No flashes are allowed in the ossuary section. Yes, the pathways are quite well illuminated with a light every 5 meters (15 ft) but often times you may not get the illumination where you want it. I think one of those flashlights you put on your head may be cool.

3  Thank Domer82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2014

Get there early, otherwise you will be standing in a very long line up. I showed up 30 minutes before opening and there was already a sizeable line. I would guess it took about an hour to get in. I did not find it claustrophobic but was quite amazed at how big it was. I happened to come across an English speaking tour and joined in - I would recommend the tour as the guide provided a lot of good information which I found to be very interesting.

There is a lot of history, a lot of bones and definitely worth an hour of your time.

Thank Christat13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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