Cover Photo © Credit to iStockphoto/BargotiPhotography
Cover Photo © Credit to iStockphoto/BargotiPhotography
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Interesting stories behind the cemeteries of Paris

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You probably think that it is a little bit odd to go for a walk around the cemeteries in Paris, but I assure you, it is like visiting the real open-air museums. Behind the cemeteries in Paris are hiding interesting stories. Parisian cemeteries are places where you can see and admire many architectural and sculptural works of funerary art. Also, many famous people such as artists, singers, writers, actors and politicians are buried at these cemeteries. Don’t you think it would be a great idea to visit the grave of your favorite painter or poet?

History

At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, ordered the creation of new cemeteries in Paris. It was more than urgent to replace the old ones, that were getting overcrowded. The Père Lachaise cemetery was created in 1804 in the east of Paris. It was the first municipal cemetery in Paris, but at the time of its opening, it was not that popular among the Parisians. For that reason, French authorities have decided to transfer to this cemetery the remains of French writers La Fontaine and Moliere. Today, the situation is completely different, and it is very difficult to be buried in this cemetery. There is even a waiting list. After the Père Lachaise, the Passy cemetery was opened in the west in 1820, the Montparnasse cemetery in 1824 in the south and finally, the Montmartre cemetery was inaugurated in January 1825 at the location of an abandoned gypsum quarry in the north of Paris.

Cimetière du Père Lachaise
Cimetière du Père Lachaise
16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France
The Passy Cemetery, Paris
The Passy Cemetery, Paris
2 Rue du Commandant Schloesing, 75016 Paris, France

Famous graves

Probably the most famous in Paris is Jim Morrison’s grave. Situated in the Pere Lachaise cemetery, this grave was rather simple, but people started bringing gifts and a bust of Morrison placed on his gravestone was even stolen. The most visited grave in the Montmartre cemetery is the grave of a French singer and actress Dalida. On her grave, you can see her full-size statue surrounded by golden rays. The Montparnasse cemetery is a place where many famous French intellectuals and artists were buried, such as Charles Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Serge Gainsbourg. The Passy cemetery is known as the last resting place of Marie Bashkirtseff, a Russian diarist, painter, and sculptor. Her monumental grave listed as a French historical monument, represents a full-size artist studio.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/wjarek
Photo Credit © iStockphoto/wjarek
The Montparnasse cemetery, Paris
The Montparnasse cemetery, Paris
3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris, France
The Montmartre cemetery, Paris
The Montmartre cemetery, Paris
20 Avenue Rachel, 75018 Paris, France

Interesting stories

There are so many interesting stories behind the cemeteries of Paris. Did you know that the Batignolles cemetery was completely changed after the construction of a 35 km long circular road, which goes all around Paris? This road over-crossed the old part of the cemetery, and the family grave of a famous French poet Paul Verlaine had to be moved in October 1989. The Picpus cemetery also has a very particular history. Created during the most tormented days of the French Revolution, this cemetery contains a mass grave with the victims guillotined between the 14th June and the 27th July 1794 at the Place de la Nation. Today, this cemetery is a property of the family members of victims, and only their descendants can be buried here.

The Batignolles Cemetery, Paris
The Batignolles Cemetery, Paris
75017 Paris, France
The Picpus cemetery, Paris
The Picpus cemetery, Paris
35 Rue de Picpus, 75012 Paris, France

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The author

Sladjana Perkovic

Sladjana Perkovic

Hello, my name is Sladjana, a journalist and writer living in Paris, France. I write about French well hidden places, gastronomy and cultural events.

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