Crypte Archeologique of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
Located under the square at the foot of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral you will be able to visit an archaeological crypt that provides a display of remains found during excavations and an overview of urban and architectural development of the historical city of Paris.
A bit of history..
Paris was originally called Lutetia and was a Gallo-Roman town that started to develop on the Left Bank of the River Seine from around 27BC up to around 14AD and the site was occupied by a Gaulish tribe called the Parisii, which is where the current name comes from and this has been confirmed from coins that were recovered in the River Seine.
At the start there were just some small islands in the middle of the River Seine that were connected together to form the current island called the Ile de la Cite, and because of the threat of invasion on the Left Bank, many people started to re-settle on the island and they built fortifications, which meant that from around 310 the Ile de la Cite started to become the active city.
The first French King called Clovis had a royal residence built on the island in the 6th century, which is now the site of La Conciergerie and then the Middle Ages saw major development on the island, which is when the construction of the Notre Dame Cathedral was started and slightly later the Sainte Chapelle, which is where the Crown of thorns and other religious relics were once housed.
At this time there was a new street called the Rue Neuve Notre-Dame constructed along with the cathedral square, but by the 18th century, many medieval buildings were destroyed to ease congestion and improve sanitation.
Then during the 19th century Paris and the Ile de la Cite saw some radical changes under the influence of Baron Haussmann who had lots more old buildings and lanes destroyed and the current layout of the square in front of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral is a result of these particular changes.
About the Crypte Archeologique
The archaeological crypt that is located under the square in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral provides an exhibition that is devoted to the history of Lutetia and the crucial turning point in the history of Paris and some of the major changes that took place over the centuries.
Because the Crypte Archeologique Museum provides a unique overview of urban and architectural development, visitors can travel back in time to discover how the Ile de la Cite island developed and walk through ancient ruins on which medieval and classical remains are superimposed.
The aim of a visit to this crypt under the square, is to provide people with a greater understanding of how the city of Paris developed and how it has always been in a constant state of reconstruction for over 2000 years, and it reveals various archaeological layers from many different periods in its history.
It was through excavations and archaeological digs between 1965 and 1972 that many different remains were discovered, and the Crypte Archeologique Museum in Paris was first opened to public in 1980.
And it is run by the same organisation who run the Musee Carnavalet, which is actually the oldest municipal museum in Paris and ties in very well with the crypt as it portrays the history of Paris even with a dugout canoe dating from 4600BC, plus the crypt and the Musee Carnavalet are also linked with the Musee des Egouts, which is all to do with the Paris sewers and its history.
Access to Crypte Archeologique of Notre Dame
The Crypt is located underneath the Parvis Notre-Dame in the 4th Arrondissement of Paris on the Ile de la Cite and is accessed by staircases that are opposite the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral near to the Police Headquarters.
The Archaeological Crypt of Paris is open from 10am through to 6pm on a Tuesday through to a Sunday, yet it is closed on a Monday and all National French holidays and the last admission time is a minimum of 30 minutes prior to closing.
The cost for entry to the crypt and the exhibition is €8, however with proof, people over the age of 60 and those between the ages of 18 and 26 are only charged €6 as of 2018, and it is free entry for any person aged 17 or under, plus the disabled and their personal carer.
They also have audio guides available in French, English and Spanish and these are a cost of €5 each, or if you prefer there are guided tours available along with dedicated workshops for children for an additional charge, but these do have to be booked in advance.
Also, we would like to point out that there are no toilets or cloakrooms, yet you may be pleased to know that there is now disabled access to the crypt and exhibition, plus all group visits, whether with a guide or not, do have to be booked in advance via telephone.
The nearest Metro stations are the Cite stop on the Ile de la Cite or the Saint-Michel stop both serving line 4, or if you are travelling on the RER you would need the Saint-Michel - Notre Dame stop, which serves the RER B and RER C lines to access the Notre Dame Cathedral, the square and of course the crypt.
There are also several different buses that will get you close by including lines 21, 24, 27, 38, 47 that has a bus stop on the island, 67, 69, 75, 76, 85 and 96 along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via lines N15 and N22.
In addition there are the l’Open Tour buses that provide tours of Paris, and the Batobus water bus that travels up and down the River Seine has a stop on the Quai de Montebello, which is on the left bank opposite to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Address and contact details
Crypte Archeologique du Parvis Notre-Dame, 7 Parvis Notre-Dame, Place Jean-Paul II, Ile de la Cite, 75004, Paris, Ile de France, France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 55 42 50 10
Fax: +33 (0) 1 43 29 30 55
Reservations, tours and group visits
Tele: +33 (0) 1 44 59 58 31 on a Monday to Friday normal office hours.
Notre Dame Cathedral
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Facts Notre Dame
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Musee de Notre Dame de Paris
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Bus line 96
Night bus lines N12, N13, N14, N15
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Attractions close by
Pont au Double
Square de I'Ile-de-France
Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation
La Nouvelle Seine Restaurant
Salvador Dali Sundial
Square Andre Lefevre
Hotel de Ville
Place du Chatelet
Square du Vert Galant