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  • Writer's pictureMallory Warner

Spooky Paris: 5 Places where you can get your frights in the City of Light

Updated: Sep 25, 2022



Paris is an ancient city with a long history of lore and secrets. There are bodies buried and skeletons in closets. Here are some spooky Paris sites you can check out if you don't want to sleep at night.


1. The Catacombs of Paris

By the 17th Century, Paris had become a major metropolis. Along with growth came many of the same problems faced by other major urban spaces: housing, safety, sewage and of course the dead. The cemeteries were overflowing, causing both a sanitary and relatively macabre inconvenience for the people Paris. As a solution, in 1786 the city began to move the bones of the dead to old limestone quarries 5-stories beneath the Paris. The 12-year project moved between 6-7 million bodies to the subterranean crypt.


I visited the catacombs in October 2021. I have slight claustrophobia and I was a little concerned about being underground with one exit. It is more spacious than I had pictured, but I still felt a little anxious walking through the galleries. I recommend the audio guide to help identify the sites in the crypt. Or if you would rather, put listen the the danse macabre as you make your way though the empire of the dead.


After you return to the land of the living, visit the nearby cemetery of Montparnasse. There, you can find the resting place of many famous Parisians, such as Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and Serge Gainsbourg.


For more about the catacombs, visit https://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/history


2. The Real Sweeney Todd

The story of Sweeney Todd is one of legend, but did you know that the character is rumored to be based on a real barber in Paris. The barber on the Rue Chanoinesse would lure foreign students, offering discounted pricing. Then he would murder and butcher their bodies, the "meat" sold in pies at the butcher next store. The site of the former barbershop is now a police garage on the Ile de la Cite. To learn more about the real Sweeney Todd, see


3. The Execution Site of Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. In the early 1300s the Knights Templar had gained incredible power and wealth. The Order was seen as a threat to both the Catholic Church and to the French monarchy. On October 13th, 1307 (Friday the 13th) all of the Knights Templar in France were rounded up and arrested, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay. Under torture, Molay confessed to some of the crimes brought against him, though he later petitioned to the Pope that this confession was only given under torture and should be dismissed. He recanted his confession but was ultimately burned at the stake for heresy on the Ile de la Cite in March (18th or 19th depending on the source) of 1314. While burning, it is said that de Molay exclaimed that neither Pope Clement the V or King Phillip IV would live beyond the year. His prophecy or curse came true and neither lived a year longer.


You can find a plaque on the site of execution. Each year on the anniversary of his death, mysterious bouquets of flowers are left on the site.


4. Nicholas Flamel

Most Americans probably believe that Nicholas Flamel was a character created by J.K. Rowling for her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Nicholas Flamel, in fact, was a 14th century Parisian and rumored alchemist. It is believed that Flamel did discover the Philosopher's Stone, unlocking the key to alchemy but also immortality. You can visit Auberge Nicholas Flamel, now a restaurant in the heart of the Marais.


5. Cimetiere Pere-Lachaise

Pere-Lachaise cemetery is the most visited cemetery in Paris. The cemetery is filled with the famous graves, spanning centuries. You can spend an entire day in the park-like cemetery, wandering its alleys and exploring its headstones. Visit Edith Piaf, Balzac, the lovers Heloise and Abelard, and Jim Morrison, just a few of the cemetery's famous residents.





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