Two Teenagers Rescued After Three Days Lost in the Skull-Filled Catacombs of Paris

The tunnels run for 150 miles under Paris and contain the bones of more than six million people

It can’t have been the most pleasant of three days…

Here’s an idea for a horror film. Hollywood, you can have this. As long as you don’t let M. Night Shyamalan direct it.

So, two teenagers get lost in the Catacombs of Paris – the underground ossuary known as “the world’s largest grave”, containing the bones of more than six million people and found deep within the 150-mile network of tunnels that runs under the French capital.

The teenagers then have to survive for three days in the pitch-black tunnels of the Catacombs, without food or drink and wandering past bones underfoot and skulls on the walls with almost every step, before a search team eventually locates them after a lengthy search with a pack of rescue dogs.

Sounds terrifying, right? And whatever lucky film director does eventually take on this tale on can now legitimately stick “based on a true story” at the start of the film – because that’s exactly what is reported to have happened to two teens aged 16 and 17 years old.

A tunnel through the Paris Catacombs.

The teens were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia after being found by the Paris fire service, a spokesman for whom said: “It was thanks to the dogs that we found them.”

A small section of the 150-miles of tunnel is actually available for the public to visit in Paris and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city.


It has been illegal to visit the bulk of the labyrinth since 1955 though, although it is not completely uncommon for ravers and school kids to sneak into the tunnels through secret entrances.

Skulls in the Catacombs of Paris.

It is not yet known how the teenagers got into the tunnels or why they got lost while they were in there, but the operator of the Catacombs museum has emphasised that nobody has ever been lost in the two kilometres of maze that is open to the public.

There is a steady temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius in the tunnels, which are damp and narrow (AND FILLED WITH SKULLS).

A memorial within the Catacombs.

The ossuary was first founded as an answer to the overflowing cemeteries plaguing Paris in 1774. Workers began to move bones by night from the cemeteries to the reinforced tunnels from 1786 to 1788, and continued to do so in the years that followed.

The Catacombs became a tourist attraction in the early 19th century and have been open to the public for visitation since 1874, with access available from ground level from a building at Place Denfert-Rochereau, in the far south of Paris.

Skulls line some of the walls in the Catacombs…

During World War II Parisian members of the French Resistance used the tunnel network to sneak around without being detected, while at another end of the tunnel, the Nazis established an underground bunker.

This is one of the wider tunnels.

During 2004, police discovered cinema set up in one of the caverns of the tunnels, complete with giant cinema screen, seats for an audience, projection equipment, film reels, a fully stocked bar and a restaurant with tables and chairs. Both the people responsible for this and the source of the electrical power remain unknown.

You May Also Like

Comment | You’re Doing City Breaks All Wrong. Here’s Why…

Beyond Santa’s Workshop | We Went to Lapland in Search of Arctic Adventure

Swapping The Streets of London For Cornish Surf Is Easier Than You Think


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.