Buried underneath the streets of Paris lie the Paris Catacombs, housing the bones of over 6 million people. Created due to a shortage of burial space, the Paris Catacombs have become one of Paris’s eeriest sites. Lots of legends and folklore now surround this ossuary, luring more and more people each year to visit the darker side of Paris. In this guide, learn about the Paris Catacombs legends that draw in millions of visitors each year.
Visit the Paris Catacombs
Experience the dark side of the City of Light on a Paris Catacombs Tour. Escape into the curious underground tunnels and learn about some of Paris’s most interesting folklore. Want a Paris experience on the lighter side too? Check out our Paris tours to make sure you plan the ultimate vacation.
The Uncovered Video Camera
This, by far, is one of the creepiest Paris Catacombs legends. In the early 1990’s, a group of cataphiles (people who study and explore the Paris Catacombs regularly) were walking through the dark chambers of the ossuary. They happened upon a video camera on the ground. To their surprise, the camera had footage on it. As the group watched the footage, they heard disturbing noises.
It became apparent that the man holding the video camera was lost, and had no idea how to escape. In the video, the audience can clearly draw that the man is going mad inside of the underground network of tunnels. The video ends abruptly, with the man dropping his camera on the ground. To this day, no one knows who this man was, or if he came out alive. Many believe that the movie “As Above, So Below” was inspired by this tragedy.
Voices at Midnight
Possibly linked to the video camera story above, a famous Paris Catacombs legend says that a mystifying thing occurs within the burial site after midnight. The legend says that if you are inside of the Paris Catacombs after midnight, the walls begin to speak. Disembodied voices will try to persuade you to venture deeper and deeper into the Catacombs until you can’t find your way out.
The Ghost of Philibert Aspairt
During the French revolution, a man named Philibert Apsairt was a doorman at the Val-de-Grâce hospital. On a mission to fetch a certain liqueur from a cellar, Philibert actually ended up entering the Paris Catacombs instead. Walking around the pitch black Catacombs alone with just a single candle, Philibert became incredibly lost and confused. Many believe he may have been intoxicated at the time as well. Philibert’s candle blew out, making his vision completely black.
At this point, it was virtually impossible for him to escape the profound darkness of the Catacombs. His body was not found until 11 years later when a group of cataphiles uncovered it. They identified him by the hospital key ring hanging from his belt. Aspairt is buried in the Catacombs in the exact same place where he died with a tombstone describing his death. Cataphiles and Catacombs folklore tellers say that each November 3rd, Philibert’s ghost haunts the labyrinth of the Catacombs.
Secret Hideout Inside of the Paris Catacombs
In 2004, a group of police officers was exploring a part of the Paris Catacombs restricted from public access. They began to uncover very strange things. First, they found a PA system with pre-recorded guard dog barking noises playing. Then, they found 3,000 square feet of galleries, wired for phones using pirated electricity. The officers found a bar, living area, workshop, lounge and even a cinema with room to seat 20 people.
The cinema seats had been carved into the stones of the Catacombs. The creepiest part was, they saw cameras on the ceilings recording them. The police squad went back to the area a few days later with a larger team to further investigate. Everything they had discovered, from the phone lines to the Paris Catacombs cinema, had vanished. The only thing they found? A note that read: “Ne cherchez pas,” meaning, “don’t search.”
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