catacombs in Paris

Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:09 PM
  #1  
betty
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catacombs in Paris

We are going to Paris in early Sept. was interested in seeing the catacombs. I have a couple of questions: we aren't going see any rats, etc under the streets, are we? also, do tour guides go with you, or you on your own? Where is the entrance?
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:33 PM
  #2  
cd
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Betty
I am not familiar with the catacombs of Paris since we went to the catacombs in Rome. But, they were most interesting and I am so very glad we went. NO rats, there's no food down there. Just graves. We had a priest who gave our tour....you were not permitted to go alone. But, you would not want to. The priest gave a lot of information.
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:37 PM
  #3  
trying
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No rats (that we saw). No tour guides. Entrance near the Denfert Rochereau Metro station. Longer walk than we expected. Still aren't sure to this day where we exited! (You don't leave the same way you came in)
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 05:47 PM
  #4  
Betty
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Bring a flashlight?? Ugh! I don't like that at all! And you can only go on Sat or Sun? Well, that lets us out, because we are only going to be in Paris during the week.
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 05:49 PM
  #5  
Betty
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Oh Oops! I didn't read the times and days very well. But still, if you have to have a flashlight, that doesn't appeal to me at all!
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 07:11 PM
  #6  
MaryC
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Actually Betty, Fodor's Paris 2001 states that there are guided tours Wednesday at 2:45 for 20 francs extra. With the regular fare being 33 francs then it's a total of about $9USD or approx. 10 Euros.

I plan to go next week. I'll try to remember where I exit so that I can post that here. In all the research I've done, not one book/website/etc. has been able to tell where the location is. The closest I've gotten is that it's "off the maps". I'll keep my eyes open.

Enjoy Paris!!!
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 07:28 PM
  #7  
Shannon
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Betty,
You don't really need to bring a flashlight to walk through the catacombs, since the whole place is all lit up. It's just not lit up brightly, and there are little places where you'd like to get a peak at and you use the flashlight (a small one will do) to focus on some interesting section. No rats. It is cooler down there, and a walk, but it's fun. My only suggestion is to wear old sneakers, but the ceiling leaks a bit in places, so the pebbly surface gets what my son and niece referred to as "bone juice" on your shoes. At the exit, they do check your purse or backpack to make sure you haven't taken any "souvenirs". The entrance (after a little walk) right before you hit the bones translates to "Stop! It's here you will find the empire of the Dead!" Further on, you will find stone plaques marking the various burial areas and the dates (i.e. 18 Juin 1799). At the beginning, a stone slab "invites" you to not touch the bones or smoke. Shannon's v.g. rating for "photo op".
 
Apr 3rd, 2002, 11:05 PM
  #8  
clairobscur
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Well...I guess some people here are confusing two things.

There are a lot of former quarrys, tunnels, etc, under Paris. They're refered as the Catacombs. A little part of it, which was used to "stockpile" the remains found in old parisian cemeteries can be visited. You pay for it, there's a guide, etc...It's the catacombs Fred, for instance, is refering to.

But apart from these "official" catacombs, there are kilometers of similar galleries under Paris. Their entrance is forbidden, and despite the authorities trying to block as much accesses as they can, there are always people who wants to explore them (ten years ago it was very trendy to throw parties or similar things down there). I guess they're the "catacombs" without guide "trying" is refering to (though one would need some sort of "guide" to find an entrance and find one's way in these mazes)
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 05:11 AM
  #9  
betty
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Thanks for the info everyone! Mary I will wait to hear from you when you return from your visit. Please either put it on the web site or you can e-mail me. Have a good time! Betty
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 09:16 AM
  #10  
Lee
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I went to the Catacombs in Oct. 1998 on a rainy afternoon. It was pretty damp but saw no rats. There were long stretches that were rather gloomy but I enjoyed it anyway. Eventually, we found our way to all the bones and skulls and yes, I've got a picture of myself in there.
There was no guide at that time and few signs so we weren't sure where we would end up. I read somewhere that the place was going to be refurbished in some way...but I cannot imagine what they could do other than better lighting and signage.

Still...the spooky corridors were rather fun.

Lee
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 10:29 AM
  #11  
Christina
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I haven't been there in many years, but there did not used to be any tour guides, except by special arrangement. You walk about 1/2 mile or so and the exit is west around the metro stop Alesia. This is really an ossuary resulting from health and urban planning reasons in the 19th century (cadavers relocated from Innocent's cemetery). They aren't like the Roman catacombs in purpose or for historical reasons and they aren't that old, of course. I think people should understand what they are and think about why they want to see them because a lot of people don't realize what they are. Tourists have caused a lot of damage, such as from photo-taking (as well as theft and vandalism), and they were closed for a while for renovations (last year, I think). Parts of them periodically fall. I don't know if you can take photos now, that was one of the things causing damage.
 
Apr 4th, 2002, 10:31 AM
  #12  
Christina
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oh, I made a typo, the exit around Alesia is southwest, not directly west -- probably more south, but there is a metro stop near the exit so there's no worry on that.
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 05:49 PM
  #13  
Jennifer
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Hi Betty,

I was literally in the Catacombs in Paris two days ago (Wednesday). It cost 5 Euros for me, and my children were free. It was open from 2 to 4.

No rats! You're on your own, but unless you plan to squeeze into tiny places and follow your own route, it's just about impossible to get lost.

However, it obviously isn't the cleanest place in the world! There are little tiny water droplets on the ceiling in various places that occasionally drip down, so I'd wait to wash your hair until that evening, after your visit.

A flashlight isn't essential, but I'm glad I had mine, as it was easier to read inscriptions and peer into nooks and crannies and obvious the "bones" a bit more carefully.

What amazed me is how orderly the bones were! There were patterns in the piles, and they were neatly arranged. I recall one area that had several "joints" (it sounds so gruesome...) arranged with skulls in the middle of them, forming a cross.

Jennifer
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 05:55 PM
  #14  
MaryC
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Thanks Christina for letting us know about the Metro nearby to the exit!

Jennifer, do remember where you came out or the name of nearby Metro stop?

Betty, I'll put that info on here AND e-mail you! : )
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 06:13 PM
  #15  
Jennifer
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Hi Mary,

Oh boy....I knew someone would ask that! It isn't terribly far from the entrance, but it definitely isn't on the same street. My daughter was our navigator, so she had the map and figured it out, so I didn't even look at the street signs. We definitely turned right! I know, that helps not a bit...

However, if you have a good pocket-sized atlas with you, it really isn't difficult at all to find out where you are!

Jennifer
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 06:16 PM
  #16  
MaryC
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Thanks, Jennifer, I appreciate your help. I'm sure I'll muddle thru! : )
 
Apr 5th, 2002, 06:46 PM
  #17  
Shannon
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Isn't the exit something like rue des Plantes? I know when you exit the building, you turn make a right and head down the street, then another right at a big Boulevard (rue d'Alesia, I think) -- there's a cafe at the corner of that boulevard(decent bathroom, decent food too), and the Metro is at the next stop. It's definitely in the 14th Arr.
 

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