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ParisCatacombs of Paris

The catacombs of Paris date to the late 18th century and are housed in former mines. They are the final resting place for the bones of six million Parisians and were created when cemeteries in Paris became full.

The catacombs have been visited for over almost 200 years. The first rumored visitor was the Count of Artois, later Charles X of France. Today the catacombs are well visited and because only 200 people at a time can visit, the line is long and waits in the tourist season can be 3-4 hours.

Visit time is about an hour and you'll walk 1.6 miles. It's 130 steps down a winding staircase into the catacombs and 83 up. Once below, you'll walk along narrow corridors with not much head room. You don't enter the ossuary - where the bones are, until you pass Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort - 'Stop! Here is the Empire of Death' sign. Once in the ossuary you'll see bones stacked neatly along the passageways. Some stacks, will have signs indicating where the bones came from and the year they moved. Most of the bones came from local graveyards that had become full or dilapidated.

WCs are in short supply in the catacombs and at the entrance. So make sure you 'go' before you go. You exit the catacombs across from the Comptoir des Catacombes gift shop that does have a WC and where you can buy souvenirs.

The catacombs' nondescript entrance is in Place Denfert-Rochereau. During your wait you can admire the Lion of Belfort in the center of the square. Created by Auguste Bartholdi, Statue of Liberty fame, the lion looks in the direction of New York.

Via public transport use Denfert-Rochereau stop on RER B, metro lines 4/6 or buses 38/68.

Related Links:
The Catacombs: Official website
Catacombs of Paris - Wikipedia

Inside the ossuary:

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