Hidden Under the streets of Paris lies the “Empire of Death” where over 6 million people have been laid to rest, adorning the walls of the Famous Paris Catacombs.
In the Late 10th Century Paris faced a huge problem with overcrowding of their dearly departed in the Cities mass graveyards. Kind Louis XVI attempted to solve the problem by declaring a ban on new burials within the cities graveyards. Unfortunately, after a particularly wet rainy season, the ground below the Saint-Innocents Cemetery in Paris gave away sending decomposing bodies crashing into a neighboring property. It was then the King Louis XVI declared that the bodies where to be exhumed and their skeletons placed in the potion of the 200-mile long abandoned mining tunnel below the city.
Some 2 million bodies came from the Saint-Innocents Cemetery while the rest came from a selection of other overly full graveyards around the city. Although we cannot be sure of all of those who were relocated to this massive ossuary there are a handful of big names that are recorded to have been moved there. Έlisabeth of France, the king’s younger sister was moved into the Catacombs with other victims of the Reign of Terror. Maximilien de Robespierre and Jean-Paul Marat were both given space in the Paris Catacombs.
Over the years the Catacombs have chalked up quite a few interesting stories of their own. After the Catacombs were created there was growing interest in them from the Parisian elite, and its known that at least one party took place in the ossuary and that people referred to as “Cataphiles” have hosted a few that have not been recorded. Interestingly, during WWII both the French Resistance and the Nazi’s used the tunnels of the Catacombs to create bunkers and hideouts, but because of the incredible size they never brushed shoulders.
The activity level of this tour is ‘moderate’ - this means that any guest in relatively good health should be able for it. There are 130 steps down to the Catacombs and 83 steps back up. While underground, we cover 2km of passages at an easy pace.
We do not recommend this tour to visitors who are uncomfortable with small spaces as it takes place entirely underground on a one-way-track, 30 meters down. There are some tight spaces but there are also open halls.
Yes, you are allowed to take photos without flash.