Catacombes de Paris

IN 2004, PARISIAN POLICE WERE TOLD THAT THEY WERE GOING TO BE ASSIGNED TO DO A TRAINING EXERCISE IN A PREVIOUSLY UNCHARTED PART OF THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS, which were located beneath the Palais de Chaillot. When the officers initially entered the tunnels through a drain, the first thing they saw was a sign that read “Building site, no access.” A little further in, they discovered a camera that actively recorded photographs of people who walked by. A recording of dogs barking was started as the officers approached the camera, and it continued as they got closer.

As the police descended farther into the tunnels, they came across a cavern that was 500 square meters in size and included a theater with all of its original equipment. It came with a large movie screen, projection equipment, seating, and a selection of films that ranged from older thrillers to more modern film noir classics. This deserted underground cavern had been transformed by a previous occupant into a hidden amphitheater. Aside from this, the police found a fully-stocked bar and restaurant in the “room” that followed this one, complete with tables, chairs, and other restaurant furnishings. The finding has the law enforcement officials scratching their heads, and that’s without even mentioning the expertly installed electricity and three phone lines.

After three days, officers from the French Board of Electricity accompanied by experts from the French Police returned to the scene with the intention of determining the source of the power. There was a message laying on the ground that read, “Do not try to find us,” and the wires had been severed.

Since the time of the Romans, quarry tunnels have been located on the outskirts of Paris. The limestone found in these quarries was used to construct Paris as we know it today. Over time, this contributed to the city’s growth to the point where the quarries were finally located right underneath the bustling metropolis. It is believed that there are over 300 kilometers (200 miles) of winding tunnels.

Only a small portion of the tunneled underground world is accessible to the general public, despite the fact that it extends for a considerable distance. One of the most popular places for tourists to visit in Paris is a small section of the catacombs that is known as the Denfert-Rochereau Ossuary or, more colloquially, “The Catacombs.”

The well-known location is home to the skeletal remains of around six million to seven million previous Parisians. The public is only permitted access to some parts of the Catacombs. In the latter part of the 18th century, there was a rise in the number of people occupying cemeteries. There were so many people buried in cemeteries like Les Innocents that it led to inappropriate burials, open graves, and the discovery of corpses that had been buried improperly. As a direct result of the unsanitary conditions of the cemetery, locals in the area started falling ill with contagious diseases.

There were other cemeteries in addition to Les Innocents that were shut down as well. A great number of other cemeteries in the city had reached capacity, which caused a number of issues for the people living in Paris. Between the years 1787 and 1814, at which time there were tons of empty quarries, police and priests worked together in a covert operation to move the bones to the section of the tunnel that had been repaired. It is highly likely that the skeletal remains of several important individuals who were laid to rest in those “packed” graves were moved to the Catacombs. Charles Perrault, who is best known for writing the fairy tales “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Cinderella,” Jean de La Fontaine, who is best known for writing the “Fables” series of books, Simon Vouet, who was a painter, Salomon de Brosse, who was an architect who designed the Luxemburg Palace in Paris, and Francois Girardon are all possible candidates for having their remains inter (sculptor).

The Catacombs quickly became a well-liked tourist destination, particularly among influential figures and royal families, and in 1867, the region was first opened to the general public.

Officials in Paris have determined that the quarries that are not a part of the official Catacombs are no longer safe to enter because of their advanced age. However, due to the magnitude and length of the tunnels, it is difficult to prevent anybody from entering the deadly network. This includes robbers, artists, and members of the general public who are simply interested.

During the 1980s, there existed a movement that was committed to the investigation of the tunnels. After the secret movie theater was found, a photographer named Patrick Alk who was linked to the group that was responsible for its discovery stated that the revelation “was a shame, but not the end of the world.” There are dozens of other gathering sites in the mystery labyrinth that are identical to the one that the cops located there. After that, he stated, “you guys have no idea what’s down there.”

The catacombs were closed from October 2009 till December of the same year because of vandalism and the theft of multiple skulls during that time period. When leaving the building, visitors will be subject to an increased level of security as well as bag inspections.

Get the Facts Before You Go
Tickets for The Catacombs can now only be purchased online up to one week in advance, as the venue is no longer selling them at the door. Another piece of advice would be to time your visit to coincide with the shoulder season and avoid going during the French schools’ summer break.

It is strictly prohibited to bring suitcases or luggage into the Catacombs, both for your own safety and the preservation of the site. The location does not have any cloakroom facilities available.

You are highly discouraged against venturing into the catacombs on your own in light of the fact that doing so is prohibited (it is illegal).

Read More