We finally visited the Catacombs in 2021
Three (3) Takeaways:
1 – After navigating the 2 miles of underground tunnels, you will not exit from the same place that you entered
(and will have no idea, where you are)
2 – Before leaving, you will be inspected to ensure you are not stealing body parts
3 – Do Not Purchase Tickets from online sites which promise “No Line – No Waiting”
(we did and we were told that our purchases would not be honored at Les Catacombs)
The Catacombs are located below Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement
A French instructor once told us that during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror when the guillotine was very active, they created the catacombs to store all the bodies.
Our understanding is that Paris was overrun with sprawling cemeteries which often caused health problems. It was a large project to escavate the bones and arrange them in the quarries. These were gypsum and lime quarries (gypsum is an ingredient of Plaster of Paris) The bones are artfully arranged and organized according to the cemeteries which was the source of the bones. The Holy Innoscents Cemetery was the oldest and largest cemetery, now marked by the Fontaine des Innocents
Fontaine des Innocents
Les Catacombes Les Musées de la Ville de Paris (google)
The New Yorker
cataphiles The Invisible City Beneath Paris (Robert Macfarlane)
New York Times
Catacombes (Monika Woods) Letter of Recommendation
The Secret Is Out on a Cherished Underground Haven (Aurelien Breeden) Paris Journal
Beneath Paris’ City Streets, There’s an Empire of Death Waiting for Tourists (Natasha Geiling )
This Halloween, Who Wants to Spend a Night in the Paris Catacombs? (Erin Blakemore)
National Geographic (requires a NG account)
Le Diable Vert a graphic novel set in and under Paris during the Nazi occupation, it combines history—Resistance fighters hid in the tunnels—with folktales of a subterranean green devil.
When we think of Catacombs, we think of Paris
But did you know New York and Boston also have Catacombs?