The Paris Catacombes are known for their long lines to get in. No one likes wasting time in lines, right? Before Covid, people without tickets would try and get there first thing in the morning to avoid lines. But, like many popular Parisian sites, today it’s only possible to visit the Catacombes with a pre-paid ticket for entry at a specific time. The biggest risk now is purchasing an expensive (or worse, counterfeit) “skip-the-line” ticket through a third-party reseller. To avoid headaches, the best way to visit the Paris Catacombes is by purchasing your timed entry ticket directly through the official website.
Where to Purchase Your Tickets
I almost ALWAYS recommend purchasing tickets for museums and monuments directly through the official website. The first reason is that it’s usually the cheapest option. The second reason is that you don’t have to go through any middlemen if there’s a problem (like strikes closing down the monument the day of your visit). And this summer there have been so many counterfeit tickets being sold by both fraudulent online websites and in person by scammers looking for clueless tourists who showed up without reserving tickets in advance that the Paris Catacombes website now only sells tickets up to one week in advance, so you’ll have to put a reminder on your calendar before your visit. In low season, basically anytime outside of summer, you can also check their website for last-minute, discount tickets for a visit on the same day (using your smartphone if you don’t have access to a computer).
As of August 2022, the official “skip the line” tickets (including an audio guide in multiple languages) are €29 for adults, €27 for students 18-26, and €5 for kids 4-17 with an adult (they don’t get an audioguide). In theory kids under 18 are always free, but not when tickets are pre-purchased, and in high season they can only be pre-purchased. The last-minute tickets sold online in the off-season are €13-€15, plus €5 for an audio guide, and free for kids under 18 if they are with an adult who has a ticket.
Note that kids under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Guided Tours of the Catacombes: Worth it?
There are official guided tours of the Catacombes, but only in French. You can find many guides online who will do tours of the Catacombes for €75-€95/person for groups of 15-20 people.
It’s up to you if it’s worth the extra cost and time to take a guided tour, but honestly, it’s one of the places I recommend simply reading up on in advance (or downloading your favorite audio tour to your phone), because there’s only one route that everyone follows, so it’s not like you’re going to miss anything or get “lost” on your own. Some of the guided tours being sold online use scare tactics in their marketing, implying you need a guide to avoid getting lost or to skip the lines: “Learn why the bones of more than six million people were deposited under the city in a complex maze of tunnels that you definitely need a guide to navigate.” Er…no, the parts open to the public are gated off so that you can only go one way. Another says “The lines at the Catacombs are very long and are known to make people wait for up to 3 hours.” This is no longer true since everyone now needs timed entry tickets. Even if you do shell out for a guided tour, as one site mentions in the fine print, you might still end up waiting if there’s a bottleneck of visitors: “Please be aware that at busy times there may be a long queue to enter the Catacombs.”
If, once you’ve read up on the history and think you’d like to spend more than an hour down there, and possibly see a few of the extra corners that are usually behind locked gates, then go ahead and splurge on a guided tour (preferably a private guide if you want to be able to ask lots of questions and get the personalized attention you wouldn’t have with a group of people you don’t know). There are several local tour companies offering reasonably-priced small-group and private tours of the Catacombes by licensed guides in English, such as Memories France
Practical Tips for Visiting the Catacombes
There’s one entrance at the Place Denfert Rochereau (specifically 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy) right across the street from the Liberation of Paris Museum and the main entrance to the Denfert-Rochereau metro station. The exit and boutique are actually a few blocks down the street, at 21bis Avenue René-Coty.
- There are 131 spiral steps going down at the entrance and another 112 stairs going back up at the end. The Catacombes are not wheelchair accessible, nor adapted for anyone with mobility issues. The official website also says the site is not recommended if you’re pregnant, have claustrophobia, or suffer from cardiac or respiratory conditions.
- Normally the 1.5-kilometer circuit of the Catacombes takes about 45-minutes to walk through while listening to the official audio guide, unless you’re taking your time on lots of photos or listening to anecdotes on your own audio tour. The guided tours are usually about two hours. It’s a one-way circuit, so you can’t just wander around (or, as mentioned above, get “lost”).
- It’s usually quite cool down there, 14°C/57°F.
- The lighting is quite dim in many places. Seeing eye dogs are allowed, but not white canes.
- There are no bathrooms until you reach the end of the visit, and there is no coat check nor baggage storage. Strollers, bags larger than 40cmx30cmx20cm, motorcycle helmets, and tripods are not allowed.
- You’re not allowed to eat, drink, or smoke in the Catacombes. You’re also not allowed to touch anything, but I hope none of the Secrets of Paris readers need to be told that. 😉
- Even though you have to purchase a timed-entry ticket, you’ll find the Catacombes the least crowded in the first and last hours of the day (so don’t hesitate getting the 7pm entry ticket if that time works for your schedule).
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy (Place Denfert-Rochereau), 14th
Opening hours are Tuesday-Sunday 9:45am-8:30pm (last entry 7:30pm).
Closed Mondays and on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
What About the “Secret” Catacombe Tunnels?
Finally, a short note to remind readers that even though there are tunnels extending much further under Paris (and many people who love to share stories of sneaking into them for “parties”), it’s only legal to visit the ones that are open to the public or with an official guide. I don’t recommend participating in illegal “tours” of them any more than I advocate breaking into museums or shoplifting. If you’re curious about them, however, you can learn more in Scott Carpenter’s article, Creeping Beneath Paris.
What time do the tickets go on sale for the week before?
Is it worth the extra money to pay for the special access or private guide tour? Or is the audioguide the way to go?
Hi Gab, It actually takes 1-1.5 hours to just walk through the space (entrance and exit are in different places). So you could simply split off from the group and continue on your own to leave earlier, just tell your guide when you have to go. :-)Regards, Heather
Hey! This was so helpful! I want to see the catacombs desperatly but i only have two hours. Guided tours are 3 hours long but the website says differe t. How long can it take to go through the cataombs?
Seeking confirmation/clarification, and Quick question – so we book tickets on the museum site http://b12-gat.apps.paris.fr/Offres.aspx, for date and time. Confirmation, we book the skeleton story? Also we have 2 adults and 2×17 year olds, it says they are free if under 18, but how do I book tickets for them? There is a comment of: T. Young Cup file without audioguide 4-17 years included, is this what I click for my teens?TIALinda
I created an account and although I was able to translate to English, I somehow ended up purchasing under "group". They had me elect myself the leader of the group and they charged me 30 per person in the group as well as a 30 group charge. What does this mean? Will we still have access to the audiobooks? Will we get skip the line priority???
Hi, do you need to get tickets ahead of time to get into the catacombs, or can you just buy them at the place? Do they often sell out for the day, or is it just a really long wait?
Hi Oscar, you've got the right ticket. Go to the front of the line about 15 minutes before your scheduled time with your printed ticket voucher. There are indeed only a certain number of people allowed in at once.
Luckily, I found this website. I finally purchased my tickets. Yes!!! All the trip advisor tours were sold out for the date I wanted. Just confirming this is for the actual tour inside the Catacombs, correct. My ticket says "Catacombs Skeleton Story". It does mention where to go or meet at my scheduled time. I'm assuming just go to the front of the line. There's plenty of spaces left for the noon and afternoon. Isn't this place limited to a number of people visiting? Please advise.
The catacomb website says there is a disturbance and is not currently selling tickets. Does anyone now if this is temporary or are tickets sold out and they're just trying to move folks around to accommodate the situation.
Hi, I've just purchased my tickets through the official website with the help of google translator. On the ticket it says in french 'attention vous ne pourrez plus rentrer 30 min apres le debut' which translates to 'be careful you will not be able to return 30 minutes after the start'What exactly does that mean? I've booked the 1400-1600 timeslot.
I'd get there about ten minutes before 4pm. 😉
Hi, I got my ticket using the website above. I did have to keep using the translator to read what it said in English. I think I did the same when I got the email so I had a way of printing the ticket. So, my ticket says 4:00pm – 6:00pm. Does this mean I can go anytime after 4:00pm or do I need to be there right at 4:00?
You can also purchase the front of the line tickets directly from the Catacombs website now for $29 USD per adult. It is a timed entry, with skip the line status. It seems to be the same as what's mentioned in this article, but easier to do. The website is mostly English.That website is: http://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/homepage-catacombs-official-website
So I went to the Museum site, I created an account, and the only choice it gave me to book was the Skeleton Story – and tickets were 5 Euros each – the line said children 5-17 included? I didn't purchase because I cannot quite tell if this is the right thing or if I am only purchasing the Audio guide? Any thoughts? Thanks.
Hello,Does anyone know a good place to store a bag nearby? It says that it doesn't have a place at the site itself.Thanks!
I just want to let you know, I used the whole "french site audio tour" thing in September last year and it worked like a charm! I definitely recommend it to those who want to avoid lines.
Hi,Must of the questions here are about whether or not you get to skip the line if you have a purchased a ticket online and have a set entry time.And the answer is – yes! You can simply go to the front of the queue a few minutes before your scheduled entry time. The tombs are not the most organized, so you may have to wave someone down but usually you can just go to the front desk person and show them your entry ticket.And yes, they do email you your entry ticket once you've booked it. But you can also log back into the account you've created with the museum (you create an account when you purchase the tickets) and download them at any time from there.Enjoy!TomasAeon Tours
Hi,I noticed there are some updated information but wanted to make sure. The catacombs you can purchase individual tickets in advance now for a specific time slot. If you purchase the tickets in advance will there still be a wait and is there a different queue for ticket holders?Thanks.
Hello Jim, When you purchase tickets it's for a specific time, so you don't wait in line, you show up at that time (15 minutes early would be smart). I don't know if they email you a confirmation, but I'm guessing that is how it works. Try and print it off to be sure.
Two quick questions. I have created an account with the museum's website (thank you Google translator!). Before purchasing our tickets, however, I'd like to confirm … with pre-purchased tickets, do you get to skip the line when you arrive at the site? AND do they EMAIL you your tickets upon purchase? If you happen to know, please, feel free to email me? Thanks.
A few years ago it was fashionable to have parties in the Catacombs, reached by entering through certain manholes but I suppose these are now all locked up. Tis a pity. Or should I call it a boner?Barney Kirchhoff
Heather, thought you'd like to know something I inquired about recently at the Catacombs. They no longer want long lines of people waiting, so if the line extends beyond a 20 minute wait, they now hand out coupons with a return time to those waiting in line. You return at that time and will wait less than 20 minutes for entry (similar idea to a Disneyland FastPass). I'm not sure when they began doing this, but I heard about it in December and confirmed with staff when I passed by in January. I should have asked if you can choose your return time, which would be helpful for people trying to fit in multiple venues in a day.