Best time to visit Paris

Catacombs: Shorter Waiting Time in Paris 2024

The city of love, the city of lights, and the city of the dead—the Paris Catacombs hold 6 million skeletons

Best time: October–mid-December | January–April (except school holidays)

Catacombs: Shorter Waiting Time
Catacombs: Shorter Waiting Time
Catacombs: Shorter Waiting Time
Catacombs: Shorter Waiting Time

Paris doesn't have lots of tall, heavy buildings in its centre and for good reason. Thi​s is because of a large underground cemetery stretching over nearly 11 square kilometres.

This burial site contains around 6 million skeletons placed all over the tunnel walls. Among the buried, you will find the ashes of some prominent Frenchmen including Jean de La Fontaine (author of Fables), Charles Perrault (famous for fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots), the painter Simon Vouet, and the sculptor Francois Girardon.

The catacombs were originally limestone quarries back in the 13th century. In the 18th century, the tunnels were used for burying Parisians owing to the rapid population growth, and hence the lack of room for above-ground cemeteries. Since the 19th century, this spooky underground attraction has been drawing large tourist crowds even sometimes resulting in long queues to get in.

This strange attraction is available year-round, but if you want to find the shortest lines, avoid the Christmas holidays, school holidays, and the summer high season. The best time is from September to mid-December, and from January to May. To reduce your waiting time it's better to plan your visit in the afternoon, from Wednesday to Friday.

Try to avoid standing under the sun for over an hour. We hope the video below convinces you better than our words.

Practical info

When were the Paris Catacombs originally used and why?

In the 13th century, the Paris Catacombs began as limestone quarries to supply building materials. As space for above-ground cemeteries ran out in the eighteenth century, the quarries transitioned into the burial site for Parisians. Show more

Whose ashes can we find in the Catacombs among the millions of skeletons?

Besides the 6 million buried skeletons lining the walls, visitors to the Paris Catacombs can view the ashes of prominent French figures such as Simon Vouet, Francois Girardon, Jean de La Fontaine, and Charles Perrault. These ashes are scattered throughout the tunnels and are a draw for many visitors. Show more

What is the best time of day to tour the Catacombs and why?

Afternoons from Wednesday to Friday are the recommended time to tour the Paris Catacombs, as visitors should avoid extended exposure to the sun. The subterranean temperatures remain at a cool 14-16 degrees Celsius, so dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes on the uneven, occasionally slippery tunnel paths. Show more

What is the least crowded time of year to visit the Paris Catacombs?

Traveling to Paris in the slightly shoulder seasons, from October to mid-December or January to April, is the optimal time to visit the Catacombs if you wish to avoid crowds. Conversely, tourists should avoid visiting the Catacombs during major holidays or school breaks. Consider booking tickets in advance or arriving early to save time waiting in line. Show more

What is the size of the underground cemetery inside the Paris Catacombs?

The enormous underground cemetery of the Paris Catacombs covers almost 11 square kilometers and features roughly 6 million skeletons placed within the tunnel walls. While the network of tunnels and chambers is vast, visitors can only explore a small fraction of the locale on a guided tour, usually around 1.5 km of the total area available for public viewing. Show more

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