The Dark Side of Paris (Best Guide and Tours)

A complete guide to dark tourism in Paris, France (including the spookiest places, cemeteries and creepy museums).

dark tourism in paris

Known as the City of Lights, Paris is famous for its art and romantic atmosphere. Millions of people visit the capital of France to see the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre-Dame Cathedral. Yet, beneath its glamorous surface, Paris hides a dark side.

Visiting the capital of France for the first time? Then take a look at my perfect Paris itinerary. It covers all the key attractions, including how to skip the lines at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

Underneath the city’s streets, you’ll find a 3,000 kilometres network filled with human bones and skulls. The City of Lights is also home to a real Pet Sematary and the only museum for vampires in Europe!

Continue reading to find the spookiest places in Paris, including the most popular cemeteries to visit.

Dark Tourism Paris Guide

Ready to experience the dark side of Paris? Well, to help you decide where to go, I prepared this Paris dark tourism guide. You’ll not only find the scariest places to visit in the city but as well as a few quirky museums and the best ghost tours to take.


Dark Tourism Paris Guide (the spookiest places)

  • Catacombs of Paris
  • Paris Sewer Museum
  • Père Lachaise Cemetery
  • Dog Cemetery
  • Montmartre Cemetery
  • Montparnasse Cemetery
  • Panthéon Crypt
  • Musée de la Préfecture de Police
  • Vampire Museum
  • Musée Fragonard d’Alfort
  • Le Manoir de Paris
  • Place de la Concorde
  • Rue Le Sueur

To be close to all spooky places in Paris, stay at Novotel Les Halles. The hotel features a fantastic location, just a short walk from a few metro and RER stations. Modern, spacious rooms and plenty of cosy restaurants nearby.

Booking.com

Best ghost tours in Paris

Dark City Secrets Walking Tour – on this spine-chilling guided tour you’ll visit the city’s most cursed location, see where public executions took place and learn about the most famous Parisian ghosts.

Dark Heart & Murder Mysteries – join this walking tour to discover the gruesome secrets from the city’s dark past, such as public executions, ritual worship and the devastations of the plague.

Catacombs of Paris

Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris is not only the most famous place of dark tourism in the city but also the spookiest one. In these underground tunnels, you’ll find the bones and skulls of more than six million people! You won’t find a more morbid place to visit probably in all of Europe.

A large part of Paris was built from stone quarried underneath the streets. In fact, the city’s underground is an extensive network of labyrinths and passageways (more than 3,000 kilometres long in total).

 

With the expansion of the city during the centuries, the cemeteries became seriously overcrowded. This led to improper burials and open graves with decomposing bodies. Diseases started spreading, affecting the nearby quarters and markets.

In the 18th century, a decision was taken to close down all the inner-city cemeteries. All the people buried there should be removed and transported to the quarries that were empty at that time.

In the following years, the remains of more than six million people were transferred to the underground tunnels. Some of the bones and the skulls were just piled up on top of one another, while others were artistically arranged in ossuaries.

Catacombs of Paris is one of the most popular attractions in the city and the ticket queue is hours long (even if you go before the opening times). You can skip the lines by booking your ticket in advance here. Another option to avoid queueing is to take this guided Paris Catacombs tour.

Nowadays, only a small part of this extensive underground labyrinth is open to the public (about 2km). To visit it you have to descend about 130 steps, that will lead you 20m below street level. Note that you’ll exit from a different place, not the entrance on the Place Denfert-Rochereau.

Paris Sewer Museum

The Sewer Museum (Musée des Égouts de Paris) is the most unusual museum in Paris. It is dedicated to the sewer system beneath the city, that dates back to 1370.

The Parisian sewers are like a mirror to the streets above. They have their own streets, squares and even each building is identified by its real street number. The only difference with the city above is that instead of people, you’ll find a number of cute curious rats.

The museum is a great way to discover what lies beneath the city streets. You can explore the underground tunnels, sewer machines and pumps along the way while learning about the city’s history and the water cycle.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Known for its beautiful gravestones, it’s worth every minute of your time, no matter if you’re visiting Paris for dark tourism or not. The cemetery is named after King Louis XIV’s confessor, Father François de la Chaise d’Aix (called le Père la Chaise), who resided on the site.

Originally established by Napoleon in 1804, Père Lachaise was a small cemetery at that time with only 13 graves. To encourage new burials, the remains of Molière and Jean de La Fontaine were reburied here. This proved to be quite effective. Nowadays, with over one million burials, Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the capital of France.

Some of the most famous people buried here are Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Gertrude Stein and Balzac. Besides them, you’ll find a whole section with memorial monuments dedicated to concentration camps. If you’re looking for a certain grave, my recommendation is to locate it before your visit, the cemetery is huge.

To ensure you won’t miss any of the famous graves, book a guided tour of Père Lachaise.

Note that Père Lachaise metro station is not the closest one to the cemetery. If possible get off at Philippe Auguste metro station.

Père Lachaise cemetery
Jim Morrison grave

Dog Cemetery

Opened in 1899, the Dog Cemetery (Le Cimetière des Chiens) is considered one of the first pet cemeteries in the world.

Sadly, it has nothing in common with its creepy namesake from the horror novel Pet Sematary by Stephen King. If you bury your cat here, don’t expect to see it alive and well on the next day. And having in mind how the book ends, it’s probably for your best.

 

It’s a small cemetery in a serene location, on the bank of the Seine River. Although it’s officially named the Dog Cemetery, you’ll find all kinds of pets here, including cats, sheep, rabbits and even horses. The most famous grave is that of Rin Tin Tin, the famous canine Hollywood star.

Besides the unique graves and carved statues, you’ll see some fat tabby cats enjoying the sun and contemplating on their cat life.

Le Cimetière des Chiens is located out of the city centre, but you can easily reach it by metro line 13 (get off at Gabriel Péri metro station).

Montmartre Cemetery

Montmartre Cemetery

Just a short walk from Sacré-Cœur, you’ll find the idyllic Montmartre Cemetery (Cimetière de Montmartre). Opened in 1825, the cemetery is the final resting place for many artists who lived in the area. Some of the names include Edgar Degas, Alexandre Dumas, Hector Berlioz and Émile Zola.

Montmartre Cemetery is built below street level on the site of an abandoned gypsum quarry. This quarry was used as a mass grave during the French Revolution. So, chances to encounter a restless ghost that still haunts the place since 1789 are not small.

And even if you don’t meet any ghosts, I can ensure that you’ll meet some of the numerous fluffy cats that have made the cemetery their home.

Montmartre Cemetery cat

Montparnasse Cemetery

Montparnasse Cemetery (Cimetière du Montparnasse) is the second-largest cemetery in Paris, after Père Lachaise. It opened in 1824, after the closure of all inner-city cemeteries, which became overcrowded.

Founded on the former site of three farms, Montparnasse Cemetery is a peaceful place full of beautiful trees. You can even see the remains of a 17th-century stone windmill, still standing in the cemetery’s grounds.

Among some of the famous people buried here are Samuel Beckett, Guy de Maupassant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Charles Garnier.

Panthéon Crypt

Panthéon Crypt

In the heart of the Latin Quarter, you’ll find the Panthéon and its crypt. During the French Revolution, the crypt was turned into a mausoleum, where exceptional Frenchmen were buried. The first person buried there in 1791 was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau. He was the leader of the early stages of the French Revolution.

Years after the French Revolution, in 1885, the Panthéon became a civic building, a burial place of all famous Frenchmen. Some of the great men laid to rest in the crypt of the Panthéon are Voltaire, Émile Zola, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Soufflot, its architect. Marie Curie is the only woman honoured to be buried there.

You can buy a skip the line ticket for the Panthéon here.

Musée de la Préfecture de Police

Housed on the third floor of a working police station, this museum is one of the most unusual in Paris. Musée de la Préfecture de Police traces the history of the Paris police force from the 17th century to nowadays.

The exhibits feature more than 2,000 items, including actual murder weapons, gruesome photographies, skeletal remains and many more. You can even see a replica of an actual guillotine, that was so popular during the French Revolution.

Vampire Museum

Paris is probably home to the only vampire museum in the world! Le Musée des Vampires is a private museum, owned by the vampirologist Jacques Sirgent.

Although a small museum, it’s packed with old grisly items. They all are personally collected by Sirgent from odd internet websites, flea markets and even graveyards! Some of the most interesting objects are a mummified cat and a real 19th-century vampire protection kit!

As it’s a private museum you have to book your visit in advance here.

Musée Fragonard d’Alfort

Among the most uncommon museums in Paris, you’ll also find the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort. It’s named after the famous veterinary surgeon Honoré Fragonard.

Devoted to veterinary medicine, this medical exhibition features preserved animal bodies, skeletons and pathologies. You’ll also discover some malformations such as two-headed veal or five-legged sheep.

 

And if this is not enough to send a chill down your spine, wait till you get to the room with the famous écorchés de Fragonard (Fragonard skinned creatures). There you can see the Horseman of the Apocalypse, a fully flayed human riding a skinless horse with human fetuses riding sheep.

Le Manoir de Paris

Set in a gorgeous house in the heart of Paris, Le Manoir de Paris brings to life the city legends. It’s a walk-through haunted house, where ghosts and monsters stalk in the dark corridors.

During the unique live show, you’ll have the chance to encounter the man with the iron mask, the Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo and many more. All legendary characters are gathered here and wait for you in the darkness. Dare to enter?

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

One of the most beautiful and famous squares in Paris looked quite different in the past. During the French Revolution, Place de la Concorde used to be an execution site. King Louis XVI of France, Queen Marie Antoinette and many other nobles were guillotined here.

Follow the steps of Dr.Satan

Marcel Petiot, known as Dr.Satan, is one of the most famous serial killers in France. He killed 27 people in his house on 21 Rue Le Sueur in one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods of Paris!

During the Nazi Occupation of Paris, Dr.Marcel Petiot, lured Jews to his apartment, claiming that he would help them to escape to Argentina. Instead, Dr.Satan injected them with cyanide. After stealing the valuables of his victims, he disposed of the bodies by submerging them in quicklime or by incinerating them.

He was caught in 1944 after his neighbours complained that the smoke coming from his chimney was smelling noxious. When the police arrived they found a pit filled with quicklime with human remains in it.

Marcel Petiot was found guilty of 27 murders and sentenced to death by guillotine. To this day, Rue Le Sueur is still known as the most sinister street in Paris.


More popular tours
Must buy tickets in advance

Louvre Museum – 15,000 visitors per day (just imagine the lines), so book your skip-the-line ticket here.

Palace of Versailles – 27,000 visitors per day and there are two lines (one for tickets and one for security). I recommend not only to book tickets in advance here but also to get as early as you can (otherwise you’ll wait for hours).

Eiffel Tower – 19,000 visitors per day and tickets are timed entry. Plan your time ahead and book your tickets in advance here.


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About the author
Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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