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Archeological crypt of Notre-Dame and Catacombs of Paris

The Carnavalet Museum – History of Paris, includes: the Archaeological Crypt of Notre-Dame and the Paris Catacombs (linked to Carnavalet in 2000 and 2002 respectively), three places dedicated to the history and memory of Paris.

The Archaeological Crypt

Developed in 1980 under the square of Notre Dame cathedral to present the archaeological remains discovered during excavations carried out between 1965 and 1970, the Crypt offers a unique overview of the urban and architectural heritage of the Ile de la Cité, the historic heart of Paris.

In discovering the buildings which were built successively on the site, from Antiquity to the 20th century, the visitor goes back in time. The dockside of ancient Lutecia, the building of Gallo-Roman public baths, the early 4th century city wall, the basement of the former chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu, the medieval remains on the Rue Neuve Notre-Dame, the foundations of the Hospice des Enfants-Trouvés, traces of Haussmann sewers: the past, ancient, medieval and classical, comes back to life. Reviving the memory of one of the oldest districts of Paris, the Crypt shows how the city has continued to rebuild itself over more than two thousand years.

The Paris Catacombs

The Catacombs, a veritable labyrinth in the heart of underground Paris, were developed in the galleries of former quarries, whose stones were used for the construction of the capital.
Twenty metres underground, the ossuary holds the remains of around six million Parisians, transferred there between the end of the 18th century and the mid-19th century, as the cemeteries were closed due to insalubrity – the first to close was the Cimetière des Innocents in the current district of Les Halles in 1785.
Through a confusion of dark galleries and narrow corridors, the visitor can discover a staging of death, with bones placed in a Romantic-macabre setting. “Stop, this is the Empire of Death”: this alexandrine, placed at the entry to the ossuary, is the first of a long series of maxims, poems and other profane or religious texts, which add a meditative dimension to the journey.
Supporting pillars, a subsidence dome and the footbath of the quarry owners evoke the origins of the place as limestone quarries, while piquing the curiosity of the visitor.
This unique site provides a moving recreation of the history of Parisians and invites visitors on a timeless journey.

Crédits photographiques: La crypte archéologique © Philippe Ladet
Les catacombes de Paris © Alain Lahut