The Catacombs of Paris, which are located beneath Paris’s streets and are among the city’s most terrifying locations, are home to the remains of more than 6 million people’s. This chamber is now the subject of many legends, and every year, more and more people venture to the shadowier regions of the City of Light.
The next time you walk around the French city, keep in mind that kilometres of tunnels filled with the bones of six million people—the terrifying Catacombs Of Paris —run beneath you.
If you don’t mind the dark, dank, and spooky, you should visit the subterranean, which is only partially accessible to the general public.
The History of the Catacombs Of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris weren’t always a haven for human remains; during the Roman era, open-air quarries were common throughout the area, far outside of what the Romans called Lutetia, before it was transformed into the French capital. People helped themselves to the stone, initially for their modest homes and later for their enormous cathedrals as the Middle Ages arrived.
After all, there was no need to carry stone when there was so much limestone readily available right under their feet.
The quarries were directly above the city as it grew, but ongoing excavations weakened the ground, resulting in an uncontrolled underground maze that was in danger of collapsing. It did on occasion, as in the case of the infamous 1777 collapse on the Rue d’Enfer, which engulfed an entire house.
Concerned about the stability of the quarries and trying to stop anyone from excavating new ones, authorities established the General Inspectorate of Quarries, which is still in operation today.
Paris’ cemeteries were growing in size in the meantime. The 200 cemeteries in the city could no longer accommodate the demand for space as a result of the city’s growth and expanding population. Under each fresh grave that was dug, bones were discovered. Eventually, in 1780, a major portion of the Cimetière des Innocents, the largest cemetery in Paris, caved way directly into the basement of a nearby restaurant as a result of the enormous weight of all these people pressing against the grave walls.
However, the risk of collapse wasn’t the only one.
The numerous mass graves served as breeding grounds for disease, smelled of rot and decay, and contaminated the wells where people drank their water, making the entire situation extremely unsanitary. As the people cried out, Paris finally took action to relieve the overflowing cemetery by moving the cremated remains to the Tombe-Issoire quarries, which are today in the 14th arrondissement. That is how everything started.
To avoid frightening the city’s respectable citizens, the bones were transported in the dead of night. Such a funeral procession is only imaginable; one can picture priestly robes passing through by torchlight, innumerous carts squealing, and the hushed prayers of the clergy as the procession marched forward.
In April 1786, the first remains were transported, and as other cemeteries grew larger, more would be added. Six million Parisians souls would call the tunnels home by the time the quarries eventually shut down in 1814. The quarries were eventually shut down in 1814. However, by that time, the tunnels already had six million Parisian souls
As in Rome’s underground necropoles, they became known as the “Catacombs,” despite being ossuaries rather than a site of resting place in Paris. (Later, excavations conducted in the 1960s would uncover even more bones, which would eventually make their way here.)
On July 1, 1809, the Catacombs of Paris were ceremoniously opened to the public. This stirred up the glitterati, which included Napoleon III and the Emperor of Austria among many others.
Spooky Myths and Legends about the Catacombs of Paris
Everyone enjoys a good story, right? Better stories are naturally produced in some regions than others. This includes the Catacombs of Paris, which serve as the ultimate resting place for more than 6 million people and are a popular tourist destination with long lineups. Here are a handful of the most spooky tales from the Paris Catacombs that will motivate you to explore their ghastly depths.
#1 The Mysterious Camera recording
By far, the most terrifying Catacombs of Paris legend is this one. The Paris Catacombs are constantly studied and explored by groups referred to as ‘cataphiles’, who discovered a video camera on the ground while exploring the ossuary in the early 1990s.
There was still video stored on the camera. They could hear strange noises as they were watching. They could tell from the footage that the man who was holding the camera was lost and unsure on how to get out. As they continued to watch, it became obvious that the man in the tube system below was losing his mind.
The man drops his camera to the ground as the film abruptly comes to an end. Nobody has any idea of who he was or if he ever made it out alive until this day. Many people think that this tragedy served as the inspiration for the film “As Above, So Below.”
A well-known Catacombs of Paris tale claims that something frightening occurs in the burial place after midnight, which may be related to the video camera incident mentioned above.
If you’re in the Paris Catacombs after midnight, have your wits about you. This tradition says that’s when the walls start to talk. It’s supposed that ethereal voices will try to convince you to go deeper and deeper into the tombs until you can no longer find your way out.
#2 Philibert Aspairt’s Ghost
At the Val-de-Grâce hospital during the French Revolution, a man by the name of Philibert Apsairt worked as the doorman. By chance, Philibert entered the Paris Catacombs while attempting to retrieve a certain liqueur from a cellar.
Philibert wandered about the tombs alone, the only light coming from a single candle, and he found himself confused and lost. Many think he might have been drunk at the time. Philibert’s flame eventually went out and everything became black, leaving him unable to leave the tombs’ utter darkness.
Only 11 years later, a group of cataphiles discovered his body. He was recognised, thanks to the hospital key ring that was fastened to his belt. Aspairt is laid to rest in the catacombs, exactly where he passed away, with a tombstone that details how he died. Folklorists who study the catacombs and cataphiles claim that on November 3rd every year, Philibert’s ghost wanders the maze-like catacombs.
#3 Secret Hideout Inside Of The Paris Catacombs
A group of police officers came upon some extremely unusual objects in 2004 while visiting a section of the Catacombs of Paris that was off-limits to the general public. They started by discovering a PA system that was playing recorded guard dog barking. After that, they discovered 3,000 square feet of galleries that had been wired for phones using stolen energy.
The officers also discovered a bar, a living space, a workshop, a lounge, and even a movie theatre with 20 seats.
Surprisingly, the theatre seats had been etched into the catacombs’ stone. The most unsettling aspect of all, though, was that they found ceiling-mounted cameras that were recording them.
A larger team from the police squad returned to the scene a few days later to do additional research. But everything they had found—from the phone lines to the movie theatre in the Catacombs Of Paris—had disappeared. The only item left was a message that said, “Don’t search,” in French.
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