When we were let in, we bought tickets (oh man, I had to actually BUY a ticket haha only 4€), and then it's a 137 step descent. The people behind us seemed to take a long time buying their tickets… So we found ourselves weaving through dark underground passages with pitch black offshoots alone. It's about a 1km walk through these passages before you hit any bones though. There was one particularly creepy passage that seemed to stretch on forever and got really dark in some places.
When we reached the bones section, I didn't realise there would be so many! There are about 6 million bodies there, all taken from Saints Innocents (a cemetery that used to be in the centre of France. When it became full and overflowing during the 1800's, long dead bodies were taken out and put into the catacombs - former mines under Paris). On either side of the narrow passage, there were piles and piles of organised bones. Usually, there was a row of leg or arm bones on the bottom, a row of sculls, another layer or arms or legs, row of sculls, more arms and legs, and then a top row of sculls. Thrown behind the 'wall' were all of the other smaller bones, there seemed to be a lot of pelvises on top of the piles. You're not supposed to touch them, but I wanted to know if they were all being held in place by some sort of glue or something… They're not. The bone on top just shifted as soon as I touched it, it was really light!
I couldn't describe to you how many bodies were down there, all I can say is there are a lot. The bone walls seemed to go on forever (about 1km I think), and they wound around all meandering corridors. At some points, the bone arrangers seemed to get a bit creative and had stacked bones in the middle of open corridors in the shape of large pots, or balanced them into spheres. It was so dark down there, my photos don't really give a sense of the place.
After you've passed the walls and walls of bones, there's another narrow corridor and then it's 83 steps back up to the top. When we reached the top, I said bye to Brit and decided to walk back to my hotel. I'd walked there in the morning, but somewhere in the hour of waiting for the place to open, I'd misplaced my map. I got about halfway home and then must have take a wrong main street. I realised i was going the wrong way, but just kept walking because I hadn't been in that section of Paris. I just wove through and between main streets until I came to Gare Austerlitz and caught the metro back to my stop. One of the great things about Paris is the metro. It's super easy to navigate and super quick.
Once back in the centre of town (around my hotel - the Latin Quarter, next to the Sorbonne), I did some last minute shopping for myself and walked around the area, then went back up to my room for a final pack and weigh, checked in for my flight, had a shower, and went to bed!
And thus ended my time in France.
The Sorbonne - Walking down Saint Michel
In the tunnels
All of the tunnels had names!
A small stone carving in a wall
A black line painted on the roof in the 19th century
to help guide visitors
Entering the bone section: Stop. This is the empire
of the dead.
Poked in the eyeball
(not my photo haha just an example of a pot of bones)
Shot in the scull?
Brittany and I
Exiting through the mines!