Our last day in Paris would be an early start. We wanted to see the Catacombs before catching our train to Brussels. So we set off to the metro, which was chaotic at this time in the morning. After elbowing our way through the crowds to get off the metro, we were street level and a bit lost. There isn’t a sign that shouts out ‘catacombs, here!’ Sandra and I were in the general area we knew it to be located, but we just couldn’t find the place!
We ended up in a pharmacy to ask them where it was. He literally pointed across the street. We thought it was a joke. So we wandered over in the general direction he pointed, and sure enough, a few people were already qued up at the entrance. Practically unmarked, the entrance to the Catacombs was a green coloured shed-sized building. If people hadn’t been standing outside of this shed, we would have walked right past it. There is a tiny, white paper sign on a stand that marks it as the entrance to the Catacombs.
We stood alongside the rest of the tourists waiting to get inside. When we arrived, we still had an hour before the doors opened. While waiting, we were still questioning whether or not we were in the right place. I guess I was imagining a bigger, more elaborate entrance. Then again, it isn’t what’s outside that’s impressive; it’s all sitting below us underground. So we waited. The anticipation was killing me!
Finally! It was our turn to descend the staircase to the main event. They allow a certain number of people to enter at a time so it’s not so busy going down these stairs. You also don’t feel so rushed. There’s about 137 stairs to descend. Once you hit the bottom, it feels like you’re wandering a maze underground. We hadn’t even made it to the tomb but there is already a very creepy vibe to this place. The walkways are dark and damp.
Once we arrived at the tomb, I was blown away. To see the sheer number of skull and leg bones stacked as high as I am tall, it’s just unbelievable really. It was remarkable in an eery kind of way. To try and capture this feeling on film just doesn’t seem plausible. Besides being too dark for photos and no flash allowed (sorry for the blurry pics), the picture itself just doesn’t capture the magnitude of this place. It is a place that definitely needs to be seen and felt in person versus me trying to describe it to you. Put the Catacombs on your ‘must see’ Paris list!! Just thinking of it now, remembering my trip there, leaves me with a sense of awe and amazement.
**Side note: the distance from start to finish is 1.5km. It takes roughly 45 minutes to complete. There are no washroom facilities there, so it’s best to do you business before you get started. It’s also a tad chilly down there, so bring a sweater!
We made it to the end of the tombs and we had to climb the stairs back to street level. It wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been a spiral stone etched staircase. Spiral staircases always make me dizzy! The exit spits you out on a random side street. I still have no idea where I was when we left the catacombs. I just know we were hungry and there was a main thoroughfare just down the street. We popped into a little cafe for a bite to eat.
Afterwards we made our way back to our hostel to pack our bags. We had a train to catch for Brussels. My overall feelings of Paris… I loved it! I could spend a week here or more and still find new things to do everyday! I wish I had more time in this beautiful city. I’ll just have to make sure I come back at some point in my life 😉
For now though, I say goodbye to Paris and Hello to Brussels. Stay tuned for chocolate, waffles and beer, oh my!