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Off the beaten path: Underground catacomb tours in Paris

Jul 20, 2012, 8:48 a.m.

Paris is filled with wonderful attractions. There's the iconic Eiffel Tower and the artistic treasures of the Louvre Museum, just to name a few. But, during the height of the tourist season, most of these sites are packed with visitors. Why not stray a little from the tourist track and take a tour of one of the city's lesser-known, but no less fascinating, attractions -- the Catacombs?

About the Catacombs

The Paris Catacombs, located in former limestone quarries that lie directly beneath the streets of Paris, were created in the late 18th century as the city expanded and small church graveyards exceeded their capacities. The labyrinth of tunnels contains the bones of more than six million Parisians, but this site is more of a curiosity than something out of a science fiction novel. The bones and skulls have been artfully arranged and the tunnels form a sort of city beneath a city.

Taking a Paris Catacombs Tour

Visitors to the Paris Catacombs can take one of a number of tours with English speaking guides. One such tour, offered by Viator, lets participants skip the sometimes long line and spends two hours underground exploring this interesting, uniquely-Parisian site.

So, if Paris is on your itinerary this summer, don't settle for seeing just the major tourist sites. Venture out and take a look at the Catacombs, too.

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