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While planning my first-ever trip to Paris earlier this year, there was one tourist attraction I knew I couldn’t miss: exploring the Paris catacombs! I am a huge fan of anything historic, haunted, or dark and mysterious. The Paris catacombs check off each of those boxes, and are one of Paris’ top things to do for visitors. The catacombs are the real deal and far from being a cheesy tourist attraction, though — you’ll experience centuries of Parisian history buried beneath the boulevards of the City of Lights.
You can enter the catacombs on your own without a guide or you can choose to take a guided tour. There is no official tour guide of the catacombs, but there are tons of tour companies offering guided tours with various perks.
Visiting the Paris Catacombs Solo
Without a guide, the entrance fee to the catacombs is €29 per person. You can (and should) purchase tickets online in advance, but you must choose a date and time to enter. If you don’t already have a ticket, you will have to wait in the regular queue which is often hours long. When I visited in May, the line for people without tickets wrapped all the way around the block! The city of Paris also limits the number of people who can be in the catacombs at any given time to 200 people. With that said, visiting the catacombs in Paris is not something you should try to do ‘whenever’ during your trip — you will need to plan the day and time well in advance in order to have the best experience.
I decided early on that a guided tour was the way to go. Generally, guided tours provided so much more of an interesting experience than just walking around on your own, and the catacombs were no exception to this rule. I actually felt bad for the people who walked past our tour group underground because I knew they were missing out on so much!
A Guided Tour of the Paris Catacombs
I was, initially, a bit hesitant to book this tour of the catacombs due to the price. At $89 per person, it was more than I usually spend for activities while traveling. However, I’m glad I followed my heart and booked the tour anyway, because this guided tour of the Paris catacombs ended up being the absolute highlight of my trip to Europe!
With 206 glowing reviews, I picked this particular tour due to the number of happy customers they had. Our guide, Charlie, was a young British guy so there were no language barriers during the tour. As a historian, he was entitled to receive a special pass from the city that allows him (and his tour groups, aka YOU) into special areas of the catacombs that are inaccessible to other visitors. Charlie was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the catacombs, meanings of plaques posted throughout the tunnels, and stories of people building amazing things down there. I was thoroughly captivated by his story-telling for the entire 2 hour tour.
Without my guide of the catacombs providing his expertise and anecdotes, I would have just meandered through the tunnels, looking at bones without much direction or purpose. With a guide, however, I left my tour of the catacombs in Paris with an abundance of knowledge and appreciation for the catacombs and the people who are buried there. I highly recommend making time to visit the Paris catacombs during your next trip to France! Take a catacombs tour with Charlie (or one of the company’s other fantastic guides) by booking online here.
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Not sure this would be for me but I have heard and read about it. Sometimes places like this you need a guided tour as you can get the most of it. I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris, while both my kids have been there, I one day hope to make the trip.
I hope you are able to make it to Paris, Kathy! It was a dream come true for me.
This article was very helpful as I am visiting Paris again in March. I have not yet done the catacombs and was contemplating doing them. Charlie sounded like a great guide and that is cool you got to go into some special parts. It makes that $89 price tag worth it!
Hey Francesca, I hope you have a great trip to Paris! I 100% recommend doing the tour for a bit of spooky history!
Oh! What an unusual trip to take in Paris. I have never heard of this one but I am going to put this on the agenda for when we visit. Do you think it would be appropriate for pre-teens and young kids?
Hi Karthika, You should totally do it! It’s tons of fun and so interesting. I think it would be fine for pre-teens but young kids might get bored. There’s a lot of walking including 130 steps into and out of the catacombs, so depending how young they are that might be difficult for them.
I never had time to do this on my visit to Paris but I so want to return to do it! It looks so creepy but such an interesting piece of history.
It’s totally worth doing! I think you will love it if you do the tour next time you’re in Paris 🙂
Rahma Khan says
I have read so many travel articles about Paris but this is something I have come across for the first time! Great post
I’m glad I was able to help you find some new information!