During my short trip to Paris I had one day by myself. Having already seen the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum in past trips I asked around for another suggested destination. Brian suggested the Catacombs of Paris Museum. The Museum is open 10am to 5pm every day except Monday with the last entry at 4pm as it takes at least 40 minutes to walk the entire museum.
From their website the description of the Catacombs reads:
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.
My hotel was only one block from the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile Metro station next to the Arc de Triomphe so I boarded the 6 train towards Nation and alighted at the Denfert-Rochereau stop. Immediately at the top of the steps I saw the queue for the Catacombs entrance.
The line moved relatively quickly, even with nearly 100 people in front of me I only waited 20 minutes. The entrance price is 8 Euros. Once paid you descend 130 steps into a small room with some information on the tomb and then walk through tunnels for several hundred meters before reaching the catacombs themselves. The ceilings are low, the floors uneven and wet and the temperature is cool especially at this time of year.
At the end of the tunnels you reach room after room of remains. Out of respect to the deceased they request that you do not use a flash so some of these photos are a bit dark or blurry. The remains stretch back 30 feet or more and are stacked five feet high, there were several rooms closed to visitors and it seemed like the remains went on for miles.
At the end of the museum are 83 steps to return to the surface which may be challenging for some both in the number of steps and the small size and curved nature of the staircase.
Overall it is a unique piece of Parisian history but not my recommendation for your first time in Paris. The more obvious attractions of the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum make sense for a short one or two day trip to Paris.