The Catacombs everyone knows but no one REALLY knows. While there were previously underground quarries connected by galleries, this place became an ossuary at the end of the 18th century and, from 1786 to the 1960s, housed the bones of more than six million individuals (dead individuals I reassures) from Parisian cemeteries.
Why ? Simply because the cemeteries were packed and it was starting to smell of hyena vomit on the surface. The risk of disease spreading was too great to leave it that way. For the rest, we answer below all the questions you may have asked yourself about this place full of mysteries and full of gumballs.
1. Who owns the skeletons in the Catacombs?
Lots of people! It compiles centuries of bones contained in the cemeteries of Paris so we can’t tell you exactly who is in there but we know for sure that the catacombs contain the skeletons of a few stars like Racine, Montesquieu, Charlotte Corday, Danton , Robespierre and even Camille Desmoulins. The legend says that we find the first moults of Michel Drucker there but that remains to be proven.
2. But suddenly what was it before?
Underground galleries existed before receiving the dose of skeletons, they served for a very long time as quarries in order to extract the stone to build the buildings of Paris, without leaving any support other than a minor consolidation based on pillars, a mining method introduced in the late Middle Ages.
But in 1774, a collapse took place on rue d’Enfer (today avenue Denfert-Rochereau) and 300 meters of road were swallowed up, leading Louis XVI to ban these extraction practices in 76. He created the General Inspectorate desquarries in 1777 who will be in charge of mapping the underground galleries of Paris and reinforcing them in order to avoid new tragedies of this kind.
3. Why are there places with lots of skulls, what is this Blair Witch madness?
Absolutely nothing mystical in this arrangement, it was just necessary to fit a maximum of bones in a minimum of space which naturally excluded the possibility of leaving the whole skeletons enthroned.
It was at the beginning of the 19th century, when it was a question of opening the galleries to the public that the brothel began to be developed. Héricart de Thury (the Valérie Damidot of the time) proposes a decorative arrangement of the bones by organizing them carefully: we keep the skulls and the shins in front, we put the rest of the bones in the back shop.
4. Why are clandestine excursions to the catacombs prohibited?
For obvious security reasons.
5. When is the oldest skeleton?
I don’t know, ask your mother.
Well in real life it is impossible to answer this question precisely but knowing that the first bones received came from the cemetery of the Innocents (transported at night for more discretion and to prevent the Church and the Parisians from sticking their noses in there) , it can be estimated that some bones date from the 7th century since in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Saints-Innocents had indeed accumulated ten centuries of burials.
6. What’s the real size?
Officially there are 1.7 km of galleries that can be visited, but believe it or not, this barely corresponds to 0.5% of the total surface of the catacombs. Count rather 300km of underground networks, there’s enough to make you want to explore. No wonder some hotheads get lost in it.
7. How many bones does this whole affair have?
We said it in the intro but I’M ALMOST 100% SURE YOU DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER PFF. So I repeat: six million human skeletons on average. Yeah that’s not bad. I wonder how much it weighs.
Knowing that an adult skeleton weighs about 17 kilos, you have to imagine more or less 102,000 tons. Be the weight of your guilt after eating a pancake with nutella, caramel and whipped cream in it.
9. Is it deep?
Yes but not as much as the cha… Uh no wait I confused with my best redneck jokes.
So yes it is deep, 20 meters on average below the ground that we know (like the street what).
10. Are there other catacombs in Paris?
Oh yeah. At Tombe-Issoire to name a few but there are plenty of others, they are just not accessible for the most part. So calm down and take a look at the catacombs in the world instead.
11. Since when is this case open to the public?
First accessible to the public by appointment from 1809, the Catacombs were then subject to many changes in terms of public reception. Today it receives an average of 500,000 visitors per year.
12. Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it the Cacatombes? Since these are tombs and the sewers are not far…
Excuse me for a bit, but I think this is the most brilliant idea I’ve had since the time I started looking at supermarket food prices per kilo.
Joking aside (because humor is fine for two minutes, you start breaking them for me with your Topito shitty valves I can’t take it anymore, can’t we talk seriously for once? That’s crazy but in fact you only laugh in life? You are aware of global warming and the fact that we are all going to die, but I’m sick of your carelessness I’m finishing my parenthesis straight away), the word “catacombs” is not really appropriate in this case since it refers to the necropolises of ancient Rome and if there are a lot of weird people hanging out in the Cata, it is clearly not a place dedicated to meditation.
13. Do you have to have “done” the Catacombs clandestinely to be a cool person?
No. Other questions ?
OK I’m angry I’ve never participated in this kind of funny rides, if you have any crazy things to tell us about it, I’m all ears.
14. Can the presence of the Catacombs in the 14th explain why its inhabitants are semi-living?
No. Especially when you know that the 14th is by far the best arrondissement in Paris. No, but who gave me such stupid questions? Me ? Prove it.