Return to International Travel – Introduction
Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH
Lodging Review: Sina Villa Medici, Florence, Italy
Our Time In Florence, Part 1
Our Time In Florence, Part 2
Lodging Review: Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris, France
Our Time In Paris, Part 1 (Louvre, Sainte-Chappelle, Arc, Eiffel Tower)
Our Time In Paris, Part 2 (Versailles)
Our Time In Paris, Part 3 (Catacombs, Musee d’Orsay)
Viking Kari and an Afternoon in Montmartre
Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny
Our Time on the Normandy Beaches
Our Time in Les Andelys and Le Pecq
Lodging Review: Renaissance Republique, Paris, France
Review: Air France A350 CDG-ORD
On the day we were to board our Viking river cruise we spent the morning doing laundry and then caught a taxi over to where the boat was docked. Fortunately our cabin was ready so we dropped our bags there and set out for the Paris Catacombs.
The Catacombs is in an area that was once a quarry outside the city. During the health crises in the late 18th century bones were shipped to the quarry for storage in the ossuary. Before being opened to the public in 1809 the bones, which had been carefully piled around, were organized to form walls in a number of different formats as you can see in the photos.
It it a truly fascinating site and you are not supposed to touch any of the bones. Sometimes this is difficult as they’re on both sides of your path and you can’t seem but help to brush against them.
If You Go
If you’re mobility-challenged, sadly this is not the place for you. There are 131 steps down and 112 steps back up as you venture underground and there is no elevator. The temperature remains fairly constant at 14C/57F underground. But be prepared to wait in a long line outside the entrance, regardless of the weather. The “floor” of the ossuary is packed earth which can be damp in spots so wear appropriate footwear.
The path through the catacombs is about 1.5K or nearly 1 mile. The site is 11,000 square meters or over 118,000 square feet so it’s quite large. At one point we shone a flashlight over the top of a wall of bones and the bones stretched as far as we could see – and we couldn’t even see the “back wall” of that particular chamber!
Tickets must be purchased online. You may try to wait for cheaper same-day tickets but we found that rarely were there any available same-day. That might be different in the dead of winter but was not the case during our visit in October.
To reach the entrance, take the 4 or 6 train or the RER B train to the Denfert-Rochereau metro stop. When you’ve finished the tour (and exited the gift shop!) you’ll be several blocks away from where you started. You’ll still use the Denfer-Rochereau metro stop but it will likely be different entrances to the station and you may need to hunt a little bit.
We returned to the boat for lunch and for the optional tour of Montmartre, which will be covered in the next post. The boat set sail and we returned to Paris a week later. I’d wanted to fly Air France from their hub and noticed that the flight back to Chicago was only 58K miles if I returned on Thursday instead of the roughly 95K miles it cost on Wednesday. So once the cruise ended we caught a cab to our hotel and then visited the Musée d’Orsay.
The museum is housed in a former train station and sits right on the banks of the Seine across from the Tuileries. It is known for its collection of Impressionist art. We saw paintings by Monet, Manet, Van Gogh and others.
Though I must admit I really enjoyed seeing how the old train station had been repurposed from its giant gallery
To standing behind the clock face that overlooks the city.
If You Go
We did not buy tickets ahead of time and this was not a problem mid-day on an October Thursday but might be an issue other times of the year. It’s open 9:30 AM to 6 PM most days but only until 5 PM on Thursdays and is closed on Mondays.
In the end
Though we stuck to touristy things, I loved Paris and would love to go back. There’s more to explore and even though Parisians have a reputation for being snobby to non-French speakers, that was not the case in the areas I visited. With the upcoming Paris Olympics it will be fun to see the sites on TV and think, “Yes, I know where that is!”.