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Paris Catacombs
Holiday Travel Guide

Twisting 18 metres beneath Paris' avenues and streets are miles of tunnels piled high with the bones and skulls of millions of the inhabitants of this ancient city.

One the one hand Paris is the City of Light – high culture, fine art and finer cuisine – but on the other it is the City of Night – an ancient town of hidden alleys, forgotten crypts and the meandering tunnels of the 'catacombs'. It is reckoned that Parisians have dug over 241 kilometres of subterranean passageways under their city, many dating back to medieval times. None is more infamous than the Municipal Ossuary – now called the Paris Catacombs – the City's very own 'Empire of Death.'

A final resting place for six million Parisians, from a millennium of burials, the Paris Catacombs only started to be filled with the bones of the dead 200 years ago. But the chillingly creative ways in which bones and skulls have been placed and stacked, in giant sculptural mounds, suggests something more ancient and primal. Descend into the Paris Catacombs and you descend into a rather intimate encounter with mortality and death.

It's a trip that millions of visitors have taken, since the Catacombs opened to visitors in the 19th century. The entrance is located in the Place Denfert-Rochereau, in the Montparnasse district. Once inside, you spiral down to some eighteen metres beneath the streets, and are guided to the entrance to 'l'empire de la Mort'. Inside, the endless walls of yellowed bones, inter-layered with skulls, are an arresting and astonishing sight.

The reason for this macabre display dates back to the earlier Parisian custom of burying their dead within the city's walls. The churchyards in this crowded city filled up rapidly, and many churches had to pile burials one atop the other. Health worries led to the removal, in 1786, of bones from all of Paris' churches, and across hundreds centuries of burials. They were re-interred in the tunnels of the catacombs. But it was the dark imaginative genius of Héricart de Thury, Inspector General of Quarries, who turned the Municipal Ossuary into the 'Empire of Death' in 1810.

He directed the artistic arrangement of bones, interleaving them with tombstones and cemetery decorations. Since then visitors including the Emperor of Austria and Napoleon III have descended its stairs to explore its morbid magnificence. And you can too.

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12064 Cheap Hotels Near Paris Catacombs

K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
4 out of 5
4 Boulevard Raspail, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$191 per night from 2 Feb. to 3 Feb.

Located in Paris City Center, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Orsay Museum and Le Bon Marche. Tuileries Garden and Saint-Sulpice Church are also within ...

4.4/5Excellent! (996 reviews)

"Fantastic stay, extremely helpful staff and great location! The staff made our stay, so friendly, excellent English and helped us with everything we needed! Nothing was ever too much to ask!"…"

Reviewed on 17 Aug. 2020

K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
Hôtel Mistral
Hôtel Mistral
3 out of 5
24 rue Cels, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$157 per night from 25 Jan. to 26 Jan.

Located in Montparnasse, this hotel is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Paris Catacombs, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Pantheon and Sainte Chapelle. Palais Royal and Eiffel ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (375 reviews)
Highly recommended

"Stayed in about 3 hotels in Paris area, this by far was the best hotel. If I visit Paris again, this is the place where I will stay"…"

Reviewed on 1 Apr. 2020

Hôtel Mistral
CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
4 out of 5
8 Rue van Gogh, Paris, Ile-de-France
Free cancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NZ$150 per night from 24 Jan. to 25 Jan.

Located in 12th Arrondissement, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Jardin des Plantes and AccorHotels Arena. Notre-Dame and Centre Pompidou are also within ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (2,257 reviews)
Geared to travelers

"Modern travel hotel. Comfortable, anonymous, perfectly situated for traveling from the Gare de Lyon (and the Gare d'Austerlitz)."…"

Reviewed on 27 Sep. 2020

CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Paris Catacombs

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Paris Catacombs

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Top Paris Catacombs Hotel & Accommodation Deals

K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
4 out of 5
4 Boulevard Raspail, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$191 per night from 2 Feb. to 3 Feb.
K+K Hotel Cayre Paris
Hôtel Mistral
Hôtel Mistral
3 out of 5
24 rue Cels, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$157 per night from 25 Jan. to 26 Jan.
Hôtel Mistral
CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
4 out of 5
8 Rue van Gogh, Paris, Ile-de-France
The price is NZ$150 per night from 24 Jan. to 25 Jan.
CitizenM Paris Gare de Lyon
Enjoy Hostel
Enjoy Hostel
5 Rue Des Plantes, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$229 per night from 1 Feb. to 2 Feb.
Enjoy Hostel
Hôtel du Lion
Hôtel du Lion
2 out of 5
1 Avenue du General Leclerc, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$148 per night from 25 Jan. to 26 Jan.
Hôtel du Lion
FIAP - Hostel
FIAP - Hostel
30 rue Cabanis, Paris
The price is NZ$125 per night from 23 Jan. to 24 Jan.
FIAP - Hostel
Hotel Floridor
Hotel Floridor
28 Place Denfert-Rochereau, Paris
Hotel Floridor
Villa Montparnasse
Villa Montparnasse
4 out of 5
2 Rue Boulard, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$194 per night from 11 Feb. to 12 Feb.
Villa Montparnasse
Hôtel du Midi Paris Montparnasse
Hôtel du Midi Paris Montparnasse
3 out of 5
4 Avenue René Coty, Paris, Paris
The price is NZ$159 per night from 1 Feb. to 2 Feb.
Hôtel du Midi Paris Montparnasse
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.