Exploring Paris’s cemeteries–(Montmartre,  Montparnasse,  Passy,  Père Lachaise, and  Picpus)–can be a rewarding task. Artists, statesmen, and industrialists abound in these cities of the dead. Additionally, memorials, historical relics, and works of art make such trips all the more fascinating. With enough time, Paris’ cemeteries will reveal their treasures to any visitors. Given that most visitors are on a strict schedule, a cemetery map will save valuable time when  conducting a tour of the cemetery’s highlights. However, most maps only point to the general area in which the tomb is located. This leads to aimless wandering and frustration which can be minimized with prior knowledge of a tomb’s design. Therefore, I hope that these articles will serve as a useful tool for visitors to Paris’ cemeteries as well as  a guide to those interested in learning more about some of the most famous and interesting sites in Paris.

Cimetière de Montmartre was established, in the manner in which it now exists, in 1824. The cemetery is located in an abandoned gypsum  quarry, and its entrance is  at  20, Avenue Rachel.  During the French Revolution, the quarries were used as mass graves. Several hundred Swiss Guards killed defending the Tuileries Palace were buried there. After the revolution, the quarry became a proper cemetery. It was initally named Cimetière des Grandes Carrières (the cemetery of the large quarries) and was renamed Cimetière de la Barrière Blanche ( the cemetery of the white barrier) before becoming the Montmartre Cemetery.

Since the cemetery is located in a former quarry, a road runs through it.  Rue Caulaincourt exists as a beautiful lattice metal  viaduct, called the Pont Caulaincourt, over the cemetery. Degas, Heine, and  Stendhal have been laid to rest in the cemetery and while Zola’s tomb can still be seen, his remains were  transferred  to the Pantheon.

The cemetery’s architecture and monuments:

Montmartre’s famous residents:

The author Émile Zola’s beautiful art nouveau tomb (his body was moved to the Pantheon)

Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), writer

Jean Foucault, scientist whose pendulum is installed in the Pantheon

Adolphe Sax, inventor of the  Saxophone

Edgar Degas, painter

Alexandre Dumas, fils, author and playwright

Heinrich Heine, Poet

Hector Berlioz, composer

Daniel Iffla  (also known as Osiris), philanthropist

Tombs with interesting art and designs:

Views of the cemetery:

8 thoughts on “The Treasures of the Montmartre Cemetery

  1. My daughter and I visited Montmartre Cemetery one overcast, drizzly October late afternoon. We saw many famous graves, among which were Degas, Berlioz, Stendahl, Sax, and Nijinsky. At closing time as the guard’s bell rang, the ravens seemed to “know the routine” and began cawing very loudly, urgently in the branches overhead. I had a stone bruise on my left heel which slowed me down. As I half limped down the hill from Degas’ crypt with my daughter on our way out, several naughty and impatient ravens began dive bombing us and cawing very insistently. They swooped so low that we could feel the breeze from their wings on our faces. I had worn my hair up in a tight bun that misty day and one brazen raven swooped down directly overhead and YANKED at my top knot! OWW! Fortunately, I am a lifelong bird lover and Audubon Society member…but that was a bit cheeky if you ask me!

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