This blog post was updated on August 2, 2021.
The French don’t typically celebrate Halloween. Sure, there’s the occasional costume party, and some stores sell Halloween-related goods (like a carve your own pumpkin kit). However, for the most part, the concept of Halloween hasn’t taken hold in France. If you happen to find yourself in my favorite country on Halloween and want to add a little spookiness (with a side of history) to your day, there are plenty of options. Here are my top three suggestions:
Basilique du Bois-Chenu
88630 Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France
Located on the hillside above the town of Domrémy, the Basilica of Bois Chenu is best known for being dedicated to the memory of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc). It was constructed near her hometown, at the spot where she reportedly first had her visions as a young girl. Apparently, the ghost of Jeanne d’Arc has been sighted in or near the cathedral. Whether or not you see her ghost, it’s worth the trip ― the church itself is spookily beautiful.
Les Catacombes de Paris
1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
In the 18th century, when it was discovered that a nearby cemetery was the cause of disease and infection, Paris’s famous catacombs were constructed to house the diseased remains. The bodies in the nearby cemetery were exhumed and placed underground in an intricate network of tunnels (and thousands were added after that). Today, millions of visitors tour the bone-lined walls of the wonderfully creepy catacombs, also known as the “empire of the dead.”
Château de Brissac
Rue Louis Moron, 49320 Brissac-Quincé, France
The spookiest (and tallest) castle in the Loire Valley is definitely Château de Brissac. Like most of châteaux de la Loire, Brissac has an interesting history and is filled with stunning tapestries, valuable antiques, and centuries-old paintings ― it’s also purportedly haunted. In the 15th century, a double murder was committed at Château de Brissac and one of the victims, la Dame Verte (the Green Lady), is reported to haunt its halls. The castle is still owned by the Brissac family, but no one has lived there for years.
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