On our trip to Paris last month, one of our most enjoyable excursions was visiting the Paris Catacombs. My husband and I had never made it to the Catacombs on our previous trips, and I figured my kids (ages 11, 14 and 18) would think the attraction was interesting. I was a bit hesitant about booking the excursion for me because I am slightly claustrophobic. But, I decided to deal with it and hope for the best.
You really must book tickets online in advance. Since the Catacombs are capacity controlled, there is limited availability every day. Book early!
I initially wanted to book a guided tour with an outside company. These tour are more expensive, but they usually include access to rooms that aren’t open to the public. Unfortunately, even a few months before our trip, these guided tours were sold out.
So, I just booked regular tickets online. Adults were 29 Euros, ages 18-26 were 27 Euros and kids 17 and under 5 Euros. Our tickets (except for the kids) included audioguides. Note that the Catacombs are closed on Mondays.
Arrival at Paris Catacombs
We took the metro on a Tuesday morning to the Denfert-Rochereau station. From there, the entrance to the Catacombs is across the street.
Our time reservation was a for 9:45 a.m., the first entrance of the day. There was a queue for our time slot outside as well as a separate queue for the 10:00 time slot. A sign indicated the Catacombs were sold out for the day (which happens on most days, although you can try for a discounted same-day ticket online early in the morning).
We were the second family in line for our time slot, and they let us in aat 9:45 a.m. sharp. We went through security and picked up our audio guides before heading down 131 steps into the Catacombs.
Inside the Paris Catacombs
The temperature inside the Catacombs is a cool 57 degrees. It felt great.
The passages are marked with numbers that correspond to the audio guide. We walked through some rather ordinary-looking underground tunnels during an explanation of the history of the Paris Catacombs.
Then, BOOM! We were surrounded by skeletons. At that point, we all abandoned our audio guides and just looked at the walls with awe.
For the first time on the trip, my 18-year-old son really lit up. He found the different skulls and bones fascinating. I had to agree.
We walked through many rooms and corridors of bones. It does sound macabre, but it wasn’t. It was beautiful and peaceful.
At the end, we walked up 112 steps and wound up in the gift shop a few blocks away from where we entered the Catacombs. We were in the Catacombs about one hour total.
I’m happy to report that I did not feel claustrophobic at all in the Paris Catacombs, thank goodness! I think that picking the first time slot of the day helped keep the numbers down. Plus, the corridors weren’t too confining.
Even though the experience is relatively short, the Catacombs are worth the price of admission. They really are a unique attraction that is both shocking and beautiful to see. Plus, if my teens were impressed, it’s a win in my book.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.