One of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris has extended its opening hours so that more visitors have a chance to venture underground into the Paris Catacombs. Historically, the lines have been very long—sometimes requiring a four-hour wait—because the number of visitors is limited to 200 people at a time. The underground tunnels are part of a labyrinth of quarries from where stone was extracted to build many of Paris’s monuments. A half-mile stretch of the Catacombs is lined with the bones of six million Parisians, transferred from the Cemetery of Innocents and other medieval-era graveyards in the late 18th century. The bones are stacked in orderly walls with stone epitaphs proclaiming philosophical truths and poetry—like the famous Horace line, “Live each day like it is going to be your last.”
On a recent nighttime visit with Paris historians, Luxury Travel Advisor discovered a fascinating place, unique in the city. Not to mention the spooky factor for Halloween! As one of the city’s earliest tourist attractions, the catacombs opened to curious visitors in the 19th century, who pondered the meaning of life and death while strolling the subterranean trail. Today’s visitors number 1,400 a day, with Americans among the top nationalities.
In an effort to improve the visitor experience, the Catacombs will now close at 8 pm, with a last entry at 7 pm (previously the site closed at 5 pm). This has already significantly reduced the wait time. Tip: Because most guidebooks suggest going early in the morning, we recommend taking advantage of the new hours and queuing at the end of the day. Note that it’s a 1.24 mile trail, with 130 steps down and 83 steps up, and it’s not suitable for people with heart or respiratory problems. Admission is 10 euros, and entry is free for those under 18 years of age. For more information, visit the official website: www.catacombes.paris.fr
Photos via Twitter.com/MaryWNicklin