A city this old with this much history will inevitably have its ghost stories and hauntings. They call it the City of Lights, but Paris is just as exciting when the lights go out, and the city becomes dark and spooky all around.
That said, even in broad daylight there are great places to find the past souls of Paris; particularly in its cemeteries. Pere Lachaise is the most famous and the largest in the city at 110 acres (44 ha). It’s full of huge trees casting great shadows, enormous mausoleums and modern tombs and monuments. As well as all of its famous burials such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein and more, Pere Lachaise is still accepting burials today. The ghost most spotted roaming the paths here is composer Chopin.
The other well-known cemetery is Montparnasse Cemetery where you’ll find Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett and Jean Seberg.
The Paris Catacombs are suitably dark and haunted. They were created at the end of the 18th century when the cemeteries were closed due to increasing infections. The bones were moved to quarries under the city (which had themselves been hollowed out to provide building materials for the city) and today contain the bones of about six million Parisians along 190 miles (300km) of tunnels. Typically the creative French did not just pile the bones up but arranged them in ‘romantico-macabre’ decorations. Parts of this network of burial tunnels are open to the public for exploration.
Around Paris itself there are said to be ghosts who restlessly inhabit the place. One of the most haunted buildings is the Louvre – not really surprising given its long history and the manner in which kings once ran their kingdoms with fear and beheadings. The medieval dungeon is said to be the most haunted part. Catherine de Medici is said to have created a ghost when she beheaded the man who connected her with the occult after her interest in this hobby waned. His final words were ‘I shall return’ and today he haunts the Jardin des Tuileries in a red coat.
Parc Montsouris was used for testing the guillotine and is also haunted by a man attacked by bandits many centuries ago. Pont Marie crossing the Seine is said to be haunted by a woman who was a Resistance double agent during World War II and froze to death waiting for her husband on the bridge – her sobbing can be heard at night. The Theatre de la Ville in Montmartre also has a ghost and outside the Paris Opera an apparition of a woman crossed in love roams the streets. But does the Paris Opera have a phantom inside or was that really just a fictional story made up by novelist Gaston Leroux?
Finally, it is not surprising that there have been sightings of ghosts, which cause unsettling feelings of cold and sadness, at the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris. From the late 17th century the royal family lived here and we all known how that ended for Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution of the late 18th century!