Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Week: The Catacombs

The Catacombs are a really neat place to visit while in Paris.  In the late 1700s, approximately six million people were transferred from their overflowing grave sites and cemeteries to les catacombes.  The catacombs is a 3000-km network of tunnels underneath the city of Paris.  It took some 15 months to transfer the remains of the dead to their new resting place.  The rotting corpses and bones were transported in large carts at night.

The Catacombs are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm (with last entrance at 4pm).  The entrance can be found at 1, avenue of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy in Montparnasse (14e arrondissement).  Line-ups can be long as only 200 people are admitted into the site at one time.  It is best to arrive early (before opening if possible) to  avoid long lines.

Once inside the Catacombs, you are looking at a staircase 130 steps down underground, followed by a 2 km walk, then an upward-spiraling 83 steps back to street level.  The ossuary (where are the bones are found) is not directly as the bottom of the first'll have a bit of a walk before you reach that.
The temperature below is about 14 degrees Celcius.  The air is moist, but if you think that it might be too cold, you may wish to consider bringing a sweater.  Wear appropriate'll be walking on dirt.  Also, taller people may have to bend down in certain areas to avoid grazing their head on the ceiling.

The sign engraved at the beginning of the ossuary reads "Stop! This is the empire of death."

See the black line above the entrance to the ossuary? You can follow it throughout the Catacombs.  It is soot leftover from candles and torches.

The exit to the Catacombs is at 35 Rue Rémy Dumoncel.  If someone wishes to meet you at the exit, they can do so there by following these walking instructions:
  • Take Av. du Général Leclerc approximately 300m
  • Turn left onto Rue Sophie Germain
  • Turn right onto Rue Halle
  • Turn right onto Rue Rémy Dumoncel

There is a cool gift shop at the exit of the Catacombs if you wish to purchase some creepy memorabilia.

A must-do in Paris for sure!

xo Ceilidh

* Note: all information presented above was correct as of July 2011.

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