Opened in 1833, the Batignolles Cemetery is the third largest cemetery in Paris, just after the Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Montparnasse Cemetery. Despite the fact that some famous people such as André Breton and Paul Verlaine were buried here, this is not the most visited Parisian cemetery. The reason why you are not going to see many tourists here is that the old part of this cemetery was unfortunately crossed by the most business and noisiest road in France – the Boulevard Périphérique. Although it is a bit neglected, the Batignolles Cemetery is still a very interesting place to discover.
The Batignolles Cemetery was opened in August 1833, in the Parisian 17th district. Before the opening of the Russian Orthodox cemetery in 1979, some 25 kilometers south from Paris, this cemetery was a very popular burial place for the members of the Russian community. In the Russian Orthodox part of this cemetery, you can find the graves of Léon Bakst, a painter and scene and costume designer for the Russian Ballet, and Sergei Lyapunov, a composer and pianist. But, this rather peaceful cemetery was completely changed after the construction of a 35 km long circular road, which goes all around Paris. This road, named the Boulevard Périphérique, whose construction began in 1958 and was completed in April 1973, over-crossed the old part of the Batignolles Cemetery. Some graves even had to be moved.
The Batignolles Cemetery contains approximately fifteen thousand graves and offers a pleasant walk among some 900 mainly chestnut trees. It is also a place where you can discover some interesting graves and sculptures, such as the bronze bust of a musician and composer Lorenzo Pagans, signed by the Dutch sculptor Ferdinand Leenhoff, as well as the female statue on the grave of the painter Louis Soulié by Clotaire Champy. This cemetery is also known as the last resting place of André Breton, a French writer and the founder of the Surrealist movement. On his grave, you can read the epitaph: "I seek the gold of time”. Also, in this cemetery, you can visit the grave of Marguerite Durand, a journalist, French feminist, and the founder of the magazine “La Fronde”. The famous poet Paul Verlaine and his family were initially buried in the old part of the Batignolles Cemetery, but, after the construction of the Boulevard Périphérique, which completely overlooked it, its family grave was moved in another part of this cemetery, in October 1989.
The Batignolles Cemetery, one of the famous cemeteries in Paris, is open every day from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm and on Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm. The entrance to the cemetery is free of charge.
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