03 September 2016

Navigating through Normandy: Catacombes de Paris

Finally, it was time to go home. So we took the TGV from Dol-de-Bretagne and headed back to Paris. We stayed in Paris for one night, arriving Saturday late afternoon. Our flight back home was not until evening the day after. So we had pretty much the whole day to spend in the city.

We stayed in a small basic hotel, good enough for one night, but definitely not for more. In any case, it worked. We checked in, dropped our bags, and found a place to eat. The next day, we went to the catacombs.

See, I wanted to go here the first time we went to Paris. However, when we got there, oh my, the lines were horrendously long. And since I didn't want to waste my time in Paris during that time, we decided that we'd do something else.

This time, we arrived in the morning, around 10. It wasn't early enough. The line was still long, yet since we were just stopping by in Paris on our way home, we didn't mind waiting. After all, Normandy was our main destination, and this would just be icing on the cake.

We waited a total of 3 hours. It was a long wait. The line circled the plaza, and we were slowly moving, inch by inch. There were actually folks who were lining up for others, and then charging people to switch places with them in case someone wanted to shorten their wait. In any case, we didn't do that, and just waited for three hours, chatting the whole time. I probably wouldn't do it if I were alone, but since there was someone with me, I didn't mind.

Anyway, three hours later, we were in. This was originally a mine, and originally this was outside the city limits. And when there weren't enough space to bury their dead, they decided to move entire cemeteries here, creating a bizarre cavernous area of bones, arranged meticulously.

The underground tunnels used to be for mining activity. You could see that as well as the remains of surveys on the walls. Visiting the catacombs first requires the visitor to go through numerous tunnels, and after you walk quite a bit, then you will see the entrance to the section where bones are artistically arranged. This visit reminds me of my visit to Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic, where there is an ossuary that is again arranged in a macabre state.

As you can see in the photos, there are bones everywhere. I wasn't scared, but sometimes the way they are displayed is not for the faint hearted. Someone must have had a weird sense of humor, and apparently, it seems that this catacombs has been open to the public ever since in the 1800s!

Anyway, this is a sight I definitely recommend visiting. That said, you might want to book an advanced ticket. Apparently, for almost double the price, you can get a ticket online without needing to wait. The reason is that they control the amount of people inside, as you won't want to be crowded in there, so there is a reason why there is a wait. If you want to avoid that, either you use the services of the line sitters, or you book an advanced ticket.


  1. I've heard about it so much, mostly in thrillers, that I actually want to go one day. But I already find Paris a dirty city and I'm not a huge fan of these endless subway tunnels, so... not at the top of my list :-D

    1. Zhu,

      Yeah, it's not the most amazing thing to see in Paris. Nevertheless, it is worth seeing, so go only if you have the patience to line up, or the money to get a ticket that cuts the lines!