Here Louis XVI and his queen Marie-Antoinette, along with more than 1300 others, met their deaths from 1793 to 1795 at what was then called the Place de la Révolution.

The smell of blood became so strong that even cows wouldn’t cross.

Nowadays Place de la Concorde, meaning peace, better lives up to its name. But digging a little deeper I discover that Paris, the City of Light, has plenty more skeletons in her closet.

Deep underneath the city streets, I try to focus on the light ahead as we walk through the labyrinth of tunnels leading to the Catacombes.

Shadows dance around the limestone corridors and voices echo in the darkness, until finally we come to the entrance where, in French, a sign exclaims: ‘Stop! This is the empire of the dead.’

Stack upon stack of perfectly arranged human bones line the walls of the cavern, punctuated by a decorative heart of skulls here or a crucifix there — like art exhibits at the Louvre.

Little did the pre-18th century residents of Paris know that, from 1785, their bones would be removed from the overflowing cemeteries to become a museum within the underworld of Paris.

Among the bones are those of Marie-Antoinette’s close friend Marie-Thérèse, the princess of Lamballe, who was beheaded in the Revolution.

The unfortunate woman’s head was raised on a pike and paraded in front of the windows where the queen was imprisoned. Back in daylight, we wander through the leafy streets of Montparnasse into a cemetery of a different nature.

With its grand tombs big enough to house a hermit, here little expense was spared to bury the likes of literary greats such as Irish writer Samuel Beckett, American artist Man Ray, and famous French musician Serge Gainsbourg, who, with his Jewish family, was forced to flee Paris during World War II.

We head through the bustling parks under the Eiffel Tower for a cruise on the River Seine.

But beneath the river’s murky water, death also lingers.

Legend has it the ashes of Joan of Arc were thrown into the river after she was burnt at the stake in Rouen, and the dismembered bodies of 3000 Huegenots were discarded there after the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1752.

Even today, several bodies are retrieved from her waters every year.

As we cruise past Notre-Dame cathedral I sense the eyes of the grotesque gargoyles piercing through me — and I shiver at the thought of the ghosts of Paris.

» Jo Cackett travelled with (0845-956 9686;