6 Million Dead People: The Creepy Paris Catacombs

Let's enter the Creepy Paris Catacombs as we embark on a journey into the darkness beneath the streets of Paris. This is the start our "Creepy Travel Series" focusing on attractions around the world that give you the creeps or have a sinister past.

6 Million Dead People: The Creepy Paris Catacombs
With a history steeped in intrigue and adorned with legends, the subterranean tunnels that make up the creepy Paris Catacombs have captured the imagination of adventurers and historians alike for centuries. In this piece we will unravel the secrets hidden beneath the streets of Paris.

What Are The Paris Catacombs?

The Paris Catacombs are an underground ossuary, which hold the remains of more than six million people. Originally, the catacombs were a network of underground tunnels, quarries, and passages that were used for mining limestone. The limestone was used extensively in Parisian buildings, including the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral.

The Creepy Paris Catacombs Tunnels

During the late 18th century, due to public health concerns related to overflowing cemeteries and unsanitary conditions near Les Halles, a famous 800+ year old market created as a means to create a new central beating heart of Paris - the decision was made to relocate the remains of 6 million dead people from the Holy Innocents' cemetery aka Cimetière des Saints-Innocents and several other cemeteries to this massive network of tunnels under the city of Paris.

I guess the idea of all these rotting bodies getting closer and closer to the market, meant an immediate solution was needed; That Solution Was The Paris Catacombs!

To be clear, the tunnels started being mined in the 13th century, and it wasn't until the 18th century that they decided to relocate these remains.

You might be asking why didn't they just take them to a large hole in the ground outside of the city, you must remember this is 6 million peoples remains at a time before even electricity. The easiest way to relocate them was to put them under the streets of Paris which was quite literally below their feet and so the catacombs became a solution to the problem of overcrowded cemeteries.

These remains were not just thrown into a tunnel however; at least not all of them. They were transformed into a macabre or intentionally horrifying form of artwork in how the arrangement of the bones and skulls were neatly stacked along the walls. This process was carried out by workers known as "cataphiles."

Paris Catacombs Is Creepy
Catacombs Chamber Available To Pubic

The catacombs opened to the public in 1809 and have since become a popular tourist attraction in Paris, drawing visitors from around the world.

Today, the catacombs serve as a historical and cultural site, offering tours that provide insight into the history of Paris, its geology, and the practice of burial and memorialization.

Human Skulls in the Paris Catacombs

Why Paris Catacombs Is A Tourist Attraction?

In the 19th century, before the advent of the internet and an abundance of entertainment options, visiting the catacombs was akin to attending a theatrical performance. Imagine, without electricity, visitors would navigate the dark tunnels with only a flickering candle, heightening the immersive nature of the experience and well, it just seemed like an amazing idea at the time and it's held true to this day as one of the city's main attractions.

A Secret Community Beneath The Streets Of Paris

Illegal Tunnels Of The Catacombs

The off-limits aka illegal tunnels of the Paris Catacombs are a massive enigmatic maze, filled with creepy bone-lined passageways towering to the ceiling. You see only 1.5km of the tunnels are open to the public and it's only those tunnels which are the very well kept and it's that areas that you will see the carefully places bones and skulls but the Paris Catacombs is a massive 300km maze of never ending turns, crawl paces etc. Yes, 300km or 150 miles worth of these tunnels beneath the streets of Paris.

Parts of the Catacombs are so deep there is 0 noise pollution. Mind blowing knowing the capital of France is directly above you!

Descending from a tradition of urban exploration, cataphiles are a clandestine community drawn to the mysterious depths of the Paris Catacombs. Operating like a covert society, these intrepid adventurers possess an intimate knowledge of the catacombs' intricate passages and hidden chambers, their expertise passed down through generations of daring exploration.

Bound by a shared passion for discovery and a reverence for the catacombs' enigmatic allure, cataphiles form a tight-knit community, united by their willingness to skirt the boundaries of legality in pursuit of their underground adventures.

Within the subterranean labyrinth of the catacombs, cataphiles carve out their own world, far removed from the bustling streets above. Beyond the well-trodden tourist routes lie a myriad of hidden gems, known only to those initiated into the inner sanctum of catacomb exploration. These secret places range from makeshift bars and gathering spots fashioned from limestone to secluded alcoves adorned with graffiti and ephemeral art installations.

Artwork in Paris Catacombs
Art Made From Human Remains
Their gatherings and expeditions are cloaked in secrecy, with access to the catacombs granted only to those deemed trustworthy within their inner circle.

Venturing deeper into the catacombs unveils a surreal landscape of bone-stacked chambers and winding passageways, each corner holding the promise of discovery and intrigue. Here, cataphiles revel in the thrill of exploration, navigating through the darkness with a sense of purpose and reverence for the catacombs' haunting beauty.

However, amidst the allure of adventure lies the ever-present danger of the unknown. The catacombs are unforgiving, with hazards lurking around every corner. Cataphiles tread cautiously, aware of the risks inherent in their pursuit, yet undeterred by the prospect of the unknown and in the spirit of human exploration, Cataphiles push the boundaries of convention to uncover the hidden world beneath the streets of Paris.

For most Cataphiles, the catacombs are not merely a destination, but a realm of endless possibility and discovery, where the line between reality and myth blurs, and the echoes of the past reverberate through the subterranean depths where the general public is unaware of where their secrecy bars, art studios and even living quarters are located, as if they have an entire world to themselves!

You won't find a map, you won't find instructions and if you get caught exiting an illegal entrance to one of these tunnels, you're going to prison for a minimum of 10 years. JUST KIDDING, but you will catch a $60 fine for entering these off-limits tunnels,

The fine is not much of a deterrent considering the entry fee for a Vegas Nightclub is $60-$150 for men! So if you are lucky enough to be invited to an event like you see below, just tell yourself there may or may not be a $60 exit fee for everyone who attends lol.

Where else in the world can you go to a private hidden bar or club and party till the sun NEVER COMES UP?

Getting Lost In The Paris Catacombs

One of the most common questions regarding the illegal tunnels is always "Can you get lost in the Paris Catacombs?" as you will see this question on every forum and numerous communities like Reddit and Quora and the very simple answer is...... YES!!! Not only can you get lost, but YOU WILL GET LOST as these teens did for 3 days! Could there be anything more creepy than being lost in complete darkness when your batteries die and have to sleep amongst 6 million human remains?

If you do not go exploring exploring in the Catacombs illegal tunnels unless you have a cataphile friend or you will probably end up on the news, hopefully with a happy ending of a rescue because navigating through this intricate network is an impossible challenge that would take a very long time to get familiar with.

While the allure of these hidden catacombs is undeniable, caution is paramount. The complexities of navigating the labyrinthine passages pose significant risks, with the potential for getting lost or stranded without light. Venturing into the depths of the Paris Catacombs demands respect, lest one becomes another unfortunate soul lost to its dark embrace. The non-public tunnels look nothing like the ones put together for tourism as you can see below.

Illegal Tunnel In The Paris Catacombs Filled With Bones and Skulls
Tunnel Off-limits To Public

How To Explore The Catacombs Legally?

There are tons of different options for legal entry, with many tours available to purchase at many price ranges and durations. Here is the tour I took, and if you do not like this one just search for Paris Catacombs on the website and you will see tons of different options and price ranges.

Catacombs Operating Hours

Tuesday to Sunday
9.45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Closed: Monday

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