20 Interesting Facts About The Paris Catacombs You Didn’t Know

Catacombs in France are old underground tunnels filled with bones and secrets. These spooky places have been around for thousands of years, hiding beneath busy cities.

While you might think you know all about these creepy burial sites, there’s more to catacombs than meets the eye. Let’s dig into 20 surprising facts about catacombs that will make your jaw drop!

Image Credits: Chiefhardy/Pixabay

1. Not Just in Paris

Catacombs aren’t only in Paris. Many French cities like Lyon, Orléans, and Reims all have their own underground bone rooms. These places tell stories about each city’s past.

2. Once a Stone Mine

The Paris Catacombs used to be a stone mine. Workers dug out limestone to build the city. Later, people turned these empty tunnels into burial places. It’s like recycling but for caves!

3. Bones from Overflowing Graveyards

Image Credits: hahanulka/Pixabay

In the 1700s, Paris graveyards were too full. The townsmen moved bones to the old mines at night to solve the issue. It took 12 years to empty all the cemeteries. Imagine all those midnight bone parades!

4. A Huge Underground Network

The Paris Catacombs are vast spaces underneath wherein tourists could get lost if not assisted by a tour guide. They stretch for about 200 miles under the city. That’s like walking from Paris to Belgium! But visitors only see a small part of them.

5. Home to Millions

The Paris Catacombs hold the bones of about 6 million people. That’s almost as many people as live in Paris today. It’s like a whole city underground, but very quiet.

6. Secret Wartime Shelter

Image Credits: mostafa_meraji/Pixabay

During World War II, both good and bad guys used the catacombs. The French Resistance hid here. German soldiers also made a bunker in part of the tunnels. The catacombs kept many secrets during the war.

7. Cataphiles’ Playground

Some people love exploring the off-limits parts of the catacombs. They’re called cataphiles. They have secret parties and make art in the tunnels. But it’s against the rules and can be dangerous.

8. Underground Art Gallery

The catacombs have lots of carvings and artwork. Some are very old and were made by the first workers. Others are new, made by modern visitors. It’s like a spooky art museum underground.

9. Fountain of the Samaritan

Image Credits: congerdesign/Pixabay

There’s a drinking fountain in the Paris Catacombs. It’s called the Fountain of the Samaritan. Workers used it when they were building the catacombs. Now it’s just for show – don’t drink from it!

10. Once a Rich People’s Tour

In the 1800s, rich people liked to visit the catacombs for fun. They thought it was exciting and different. They would organize fancy dinner parties and dress up in their best clothes while spending the night underground, surrounded by walls of bones and skulls.

11. Skull and Crossbones Designs

If you ever get the chance to visit the catacombs, you’ll find a uniquely organized pile of bones. Workers arranged them in special patterns. You can see walls of skulls and leg bones in neat rows. Some look like art or signs. It’s creepy but cool at the same time.

12. Not Just Human Bones

Image Credits: congerdesign/Pixabay

The catacombs don’t only have human bones. Scientists found bones from ice age animals too. There are mammoth and bear bones mixed in with the human ones. It’s like a puzzle of different times.

13. Secret Entrances

There are many secret ways into the catacombs. Some are in cellars or the subway. Others are hidden in the streets, just right under your nose. Despite the police’s efforts trying to close them, people keep finding new ones.

14. Special Catacomb Police

Paris has police just for the catacombs called the “Cataflics.” They look for people sneaking into closed areas and help if someone gets lost. It’s a very special police job since some locals or tourists could get “too” adventurous for their own good.

15. Bones Tell Stories

Image Credits: Eric Prouzet/Unsplash

Scientists learn a lot from the bones. They can tell how people lived long ago. The bones show what diseases were common and what people ate. It’s like reading a wordless history book made of skeletons.

16. Famous People’s Bones

Some famous people’s bones are in the catacombs. But no one knows exactly where. Even the remains of writers Rabelais and Jean de La Fontaine might be there as well.

17. Mushroom Farm

In the 1800s, people grew mushrooms in the catacombs. Due to the dark and damp nature of the tunnels, it became the perfect place to start a mushroom farm. However, imagine eating mushrooms grown next to all those bones!

18. Inspiring Stories and Movies

Image Credit: Bluesnap/Pixabay

The catacombs appear in many books and movies. They inspire spooky stories and adventure tales. From old Gothic novels to modern horror films, these tunnels keep giving people ideas.

19. Accidental Discovery

The Paris Catacombs were found by accident. In 1774, a house collapsed into a forgotten limestone quarry, making people realize there were tunnels under the city. Later, they turned these into catacombs.

20. Temperature Never Changes

If there’s anything constant in France, that would be the temperature in the catacombs. It stays about 57°F (14°C) all year, which helps preserve the bones. It also means you should bring a jacket, even in summer.

15 Things Americans Do That Confuse Visitors

Photo credit: artofphoto/Deposit photos

15 Things Americans Do That Confuse Visitors

Sharing is caring!

Mary Apurong

Mary Apurong is an experienced editor and ghostwriter who enjoys writing and reading. She loves researching topics related to life and creating content on quotes, gardening, food, travel, crafts, and DIY. Mary spends her free time doing digital art and watching documentaries.

Leave a Comment