If you would like to visit the catacombs, I assure you it is well worth checking out, but I must issue a few warnings. First, I would not recommend this for children. The rules of the museum stipulate that anyone under 14 must be accompanied by an adult, but there seemed to be quite a few parents in line with me who had ignored this well meant warning. This is not a good thing for kids. There a lot of great things around Paris for kids, this isn't one of them. Second, if you don't like caves, you are going to hate the catacombs. As I mentioned they are very deep underground, and they are very enclosed. If you don't like tight spaces this is not for you. You spend the first 3/4 mi walking down tight winding stone corridors that are dimly lit at best. It is dark, damp, and creepy as all get out. It's not crowded inside, and there were times when I was alone in my stretch of corridor. It's not for the faint of heart. Third, if you are not a patient person, this is not for you. Due to space limitations, they can only allow 200 people in at a time, so though the line is not terribly long, it moves very slowly. I waited about an hour, and this is the off season. Once in, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get through.
|A carving done by a quarry man named Decure|
|Another of Decure's carvings, the fortress of Port-Mahon|
|A beautiful series of archways,|
a nice relief from the low ceilings of the corridors
|Entrance to the Ossuary|
"Stop! Here lies the Empire of the Dead"
|The bones line the walls|
|The bones are mostly arranged in this linear pattern|
|One of several subsidence cavities|
A remark on the final photo: what you see is a (poorly lit) subsidence cavity. They were one of the greatest hazards to the mine workers. They form naturally, but they collapse naturally too. Eventually all subsidence cavities do collapse; it's just a matter of when. When the city 'renovated' the catacombs, they reinforced the cavities with cement to prevent their collapse. Still, the swiss cheese that is Paris' underground was one of the earliest reasons why tall buildings simply don't work in this city. When they were building the metro, one of their big concerns was the structural integrity not above the metro tunnels, but below them. Let us all be thankful for civil engineers.