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HISTORY OF THE CATACOMBS OF PARIS
The Catacombs of Paris (the “municipal Ossuary”) have been created at the end of the 18th century. The cemetery of Innocent (close to Saint-Eustace, in the district of the "Halles") had been used during nearly ten centuries and had become the origin of infection for all the inhabitants of the district. After multiple complaints, the Council of State, by decision of November 9, 1785, pronounced the removal and the evacuation of the cemetery of the Innocent ones.
Old Quarries were selected to deposit Parisian bones; Paris indeed had just created the General Inspection of the Quarries charged of the consolidation of the public highways undermined by the Quarries. The Quarries “of Tombe-Issoire” were the object of work including masonry and consolidations of galleries, and by the digging of a flanked staircase.
The removal of the bones began after the blessing of the place on April 7, 1786 and was continued until 1788, always at night and according to a ceremonial made up of a procession of priests who sang the burial service along the way borrowed by the tipcarts charged with bones and covered with a black veil. Thereafter, this place was used, until 1814, to collect the bones of all the cemeteries of Paris.
From the first day of their creation, the Catacombs caused curiosity. In 1787, Lord of d' Artois, who will become Charles 10, went down there, in company of ladies from the Court. The following year, one mentions the visit of Madam de Polignac and Madam de Guiche. In 1814, François 1st, emperor of Austria, residing as a winner in Paris visited them. In 1860, Napoleon III went down there with his son.
The Catacombs of Paris reopened on June 14, 2005 after several months of closing for work. Lighting was revised, the arches were consolidated and the walls of re-installed bones.
» History and visit of Paris catacombs (English)
» L'inspection générale des Carrières de Paris (French page)
INFORMATION : new visit of "Port-Mahon" (2008)
The Catacombs gather the remainders of approximately six million Parisian, transferred between the end from 18e century and the middle from the 19e century, progressively of the closing of the cemeteries for reason of insalubrity. Along a labyrinth of obscure galleries and narrow corridors , the visitor discovers the bones laid out in a "romantico-macabre" decoration. Pillars, bells of subsidence or bath of feet of the quarrymen evoke the origin of the places, the limestone quarries, while sharpening the curiosity of the visitor. This underground museum restores the history of Parisian and invites to a voyage out of time.
The sculptures of the gallery of Port-Mahon made by a quarryman called "Décure", veteran of the armies of Louis XV, who carved in the wall a model of the fortress of Port-Mahon, principal city of Minorque to the Balearic Islands where he would have been a time captive by English army. Finally restored and exposed by a specific lighting, they constitute an undeniable curiosity of the circuit re-opened to the public after 13 years of closing.
Catacombs of Paris
1, avenue of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
Tel.: 01 43 22 47 63
Fax: 01 43 22 48 17
Subway and the RER b: Denfert-Rochereau
Paying car park: Saint-Jacques boulevard
Schedules of opening
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 17 p.m. every day except Monday (Last admission at 16 p.m.)
LECTURE VISITS / COURSE IN STORIES (TALES)
Appointment at the entry of the Catacombs, 1, avenue of colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris.
Activities without reservation. Duration: 1:30
Accepted methods of payment: Eurocard - Mastercard - Visa
CAUTION, PARTICULAR CONDITIONS OF VISIT :
- Visits limited to 200 Visitors in the site (entries can be stopped temporarily)
- Duration of the visit: 45 minutes - length 2 km
- No toilets, no cloakroom
- 130 steps to be gone down, 83 steps to be gone up
- Temperature: 14°
- Visit disadvised to the people suffering of cardiac or respiratory weakness and of nervous disease.
- Visit disadvised to young children
- Children of less than 14 years must be accompanied by an adult
Tuesday 04,11,18 at 10:30
Saturdays 01,08,2007 at 10:30
Tuesday 02,09,2007 at 10:30
Saturdays 6,13,20 and October 27, 2007 at 10:30
Tuesday 6 and November 13, 2007 at 10:30
GROUPS (10 people minimum and 20 people maximum)
The visits of group are authorized only the morning, from Tuesday to Friday included.
Obligatory reservation with the service of Cultural activity of the Carnavalet Museum to the 01 44 59 58 31 (faxes: 01 44 59 58 07).
» Download program of Paris-Palerme exposition (pdf)
» Download program of individual visits (2009) (pdf)
Catacombes de Paris
1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy - 75014 Paris - Tel.: 01 43 22 47 63 - Fax: 01 43 22 48 17 - www.catacombes-de-paris.fr