As La Toussaint
draws near, it's for people in France, especially those in Paris, to visit their loved ones at the nearby cemeteries. Incidentally, the cemeteries in Paris are pretty popular even beyond the solemn holiday. Even on a regular day, you'd be surprised at how many people there are in these sorts of places. The cemeteries, with their lavish graveyards and monumental tombstones, have a certain magic to them. There's a beautiful melancholy that's almost poetic and definitely cinematic. You'll understand what this all means when you visit places like Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Cimetière de Passy, Cimetière de Montmartre, and Cimetière du Montparnasse. These are just some of the most beautiful cemeteries in Paris!
Cimetière du Père Lachaise
Without a doubt, the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement
is one of the most famous cemeteries in Paris. It welcomes 3.5 million visitors annually, making it practically as popular as many of the city's notable attractions. You really ought to see it during autumn in Paris
too! The contrast between the stonewashed graves and the yellow, orange, and crimson-hued foliage is breathtaking. And of course, you can't miss out on visiting some of the famous graves here. Icons like the Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde, and French author Colette are buried here. It's a who's who of the Parisian elite over the years.
Source: Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Cimetière du Calvaire
From the largest and most famous of the cemeteries in Paris to the smallest and probably the least-known: Cimetière du Calvaire. Hidden in the shadows of the monumental Sacré-Cœur church in the 18th arrondissement
, the Calvaire Cemetery is one of the city's best-kept secrets. This is perhaps due in large part to the fact that it's only open to the public on one day of the year, La Toussaint. It's only on All Saints' Day that anyone can venture beyond the iron gates that border this small and intimate graveyard. Though there aren't as many famous people buried here, it's the serene solemnity of the place that makes it so captivating!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ X-Javier
Cimetière de Montmartre
In the same 18th arrondissement, there's the more famous Montmartre Cemetery. Located on the opposite side of Montmartre
hill, it's also on the more peaceful and quiet side. At least, compared to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. And yet there are tons of famous people who are buried here. There's Alexandre Dumas, for instance, the author of 'The Three Musketeers
' and other classic French novels
. As well as François Truffaut, a film director and pioneer of the French New Wave movement back in the mid-20th-century. You can try to look for their final resting places amidst stone angels and weeping statues.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Ivonna Nowicka
Cimetière du Montparnasse
Much like the Montmartre Cemetery, the necropolis in the Montparnasse district
is also often overlooked. With the neighborhood’s famous tower and charming cafes
, very few tourists would ever think to visit a graveyard instead. But those who do will get quite the feast for the eyes. One walk-through is enough for you to confuse this place as a sculpture gallery. The angels and other statues that decorate the graves here are absolutely exquisite. So much so that you'll feel that they're wasted on such a sad environment. But then, that's exactly what adds to their haunting charms!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Sergey Galyonkin
Cimetière de Passy
The Passy Cemetery is another of the beautiful and famous cemeteries in Paris that you shouldn't overlook. And the main reason why is that it's the only necropolis in the city (and probably in the entire world) where you can see an iconic landmark. That's right! Thanks to its close proximity, you can see the Eiffel Tower
from here. Standing as the symbol of the country, there's a beautiful irony that comes from seeing it from the graveyard. But still, the juxtaposition between the lively tower to that of the eerie tranquility of the Passy
Cemetery is positively haunting!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Seauton
Cimetière du Batignolles
Although it's one of the lesser-known neighborhoods of Paris
, the Batignolles Cemetery does have a lot of famous people buried there. There's Paul Vidal, for example, who was a famous composer, conductor, and music teacher. The former journalist and leading suffragette, Marguerite Durand, is also buried here. As well as Clémentine de Vère, who lived as the most influential female magician in the early half of the 20th century. For this graveyard to have this many big names in French history means that the Batignolles
Cemetery really is among the finest of the bunch. And it helps that it's a pretty serene hotspot too!
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Thomon
Cimetière de Picpus
And finally, there's the Picpus Cemetery in the 12th arrondissement
of Paris. Though it's a privately-owned cemetery, it still welcomes visitors from the public. Especially since this is where the Marquis de Lafayette, a key figure during the American Revolutionary War, is buried here. Fascinatingly enough, the cemetery was founded when it was seized from the convent of the Chanoinesses de St-Augustin during the French Revolution. And since this cemetery is near Place de la Nation, the spot where the guillotine of the Reign of Terror was set up, it's said that part of the cemetery is where they initially buried the bodies of the executed French aristocrats.
Source: LPLT / Wikimedia Commons
If you're tired of the same old monuments, museums, and other famous tourist attractions, why not go visit the beautiful cemeteries in Paris? You'll find that even in these somber graveyards, there's a beauty and charm you can't deny!