Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris

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  • Serge Gainsbourg
    Serge Gainsbourg
    by Nemorino
  • Pens and pencils
    Pens and pencils
    by Nemorino
  • The grave of Marguerite Duras
    The grave of Marguerite Duras
    by Nemorino
  • Nemorino's Profile Photo

    Montparnasse Cemetery

    by Nemorino Written Aug 22, 2014

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    Montparnasse Cemetery, with a surface area of 19 hectares, is the second largest cemetery in Paris. It is located in southern Paris and was opened in 1924.

    When you come in at the main entrance, at 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, there are some laminated cemetery maps hanging by strings on a nail on the little guard house to your left. You are welcome to borrow one to help you find the graves of famous people, but they ask you to return it when you leave. (You can also download the map from the internet if you prefer to have your own copy).

    The grave in my first photo is the family grave of the Baudelaire family, including the poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). The first name on the gravestone is that of Jacques Aupick, Baudelaire’s stepfather.

    Second photo: Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994) was a Romanian playwright who wrote mainly in French. I have mentioned him twice here on VirtualTourist, once because I saw a play of his years ago at the Comédie-Française and once because two of his short plays, La Cantatrice chauve (known in English as The Bald Soprano) and La Leçon (The Lesson), have been playing continuously since February 1957 at the Théâtre de la Huchette in the Latin Quarter. I saw them in November 1966, in their tenth year of continuous performance. As of 2014 they are playing five nights a week (Tuesday to Saturday) and are always sold out, so it is essential to book ahead if you hope to get a ticket.

    Third photo: Jean Seberg (1938-1979) was an American actress who starred in 34 films in Hollywood and in Europe, including The Mouse that Roared with Peter Sellers and À bout de souffle (Breathless) by Jean-Luc Godard.

    Fourth photo: Antoine Bourdelle (1861–1929) was a French sculptor who lived and worked in the Montparnasse district of Paris. His former atelier, just a short walk or bicycle ride from the cemetery, is now a museum devoted to his work.

    Fifth photo: Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) was a French singer, songwriter, pianist, film composer, poet, painter, screenwriter, writer, actor, director and probably a few other things that I have forgotten.

    Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris
    Directions: Location of Montparnasse Cemetery on the Vélib’ map
    Location of Montparnasse Cemetery from above on monumentum.fr
    Phone: 01 44 10 86 50
    Website: http://www.paris.fr/english/heritage-and-sights/cemeteries/montparnasse-cemetery/rub_8222_stand_34190_port_19019

    Next: Marguerite Duras at Montparnasse Cemetery

    Baudelaire Ionesco Jean Seberg Bourdelle Serge Gainsbourg
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    Marguerite Duras at Montparnasse Cemetery

    by Nemorino Written Aug 22, 2014

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    The first grave I went looking for at Montparnasse Cemetery was the grave of the French author Marguerite Duras (1914-1996). It was easy to find because it is on one of the main paths, just off to the left from the main entrance.

    Marguerite Duras was born in Vietnam, which at that time was a French colony. She spoke fluent Vietnamese with the local children, but spoke French as home and at school. See my review Marguerite Duras in Sa Đéc on my Vietnam page.

    At age 17 she left Vietnam and moved to France, her parents’ native country, where she studied mathematics and political science. During the Second World War she worked for the Vichy government but was also active in the Resistance, which was where she met and worked with François Mitterrand, who much later was elected President of the Republic.

    Second photo: Potted plants and sea shells on the grave of Marguerite Duras.

    Third photo: A circle of small stones around a sea shell on her grave.

    Fourth photo: In the largest flower pot, the fans of Marguerite Duras have left her dozens of pens and pencils.

    Fifth photo: When I got home I started looking through my books, including some that had been packed away and inaccessible for a few years, and discovered that I have about ten books by Marguerite Duras, some of which I had completely forgotten. Her books about Vietnam are still my favorites, like Un barrage contre le Pacifique (known in English as The Sea Wall and in German as Heiße Küste), an autobiographical novel about growing up in French Indochina.

    Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris
    Directions: Location of Montparnasse Cemetery on the Vélib’ map
    Location of Montparnasse Cemetery from above on monumentum.fr

    Next: Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

    The grave of Marguerite Duras Potted plants and sea shells Little stones and a sea shell Pens and pencils
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    Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

    by Nemorino Written Aug 22, 2014

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    The most often visited grave in the Montparnasse Cemetery is no doubt the grave of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), two of the most prolific and influential French authors of the twentieth century. Their grave is easy to find, just off to the right if you come in by the main entrance to the cemetery on Boulevard Edgar Quinet.

    Second photo: This is one of several graves in Paris cemeteries that are sometimes kissed by visitors.

    Third photo: On the day I was there, the grave of Sartre and de Beauvoir was covered with flowers, notes and especially bus and métro tickets, weighted down with little stones so they wouldn’t blow away. You can tell that some of the tickets are bus tickets because they are marked “sans correspondence”. There are one-off tickets that you can buy from the bus driver. They cost a bit more than tickets from the machine, and do not allow any transfers.

    Fourth photo: The notes on the grave were mainly in English and addressed to Simone de Beauvoir. They read, for instance:
    • “Simone, thank you!”
    • “One is not born but becomes a woman.” (A quotation from Simone de Beauvoir’s book Le Deuxième Sexe = The Second Sex.)
    • “The greatest love affair.”
    • “Never have I mourned so much for a woman I have never known.”
    • “You inspired me to do great things.”

    Fifth photo: The cemetery and Montparnasse Tower.

    Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris
    Directions: Location of Montparnasse Cemetery on the Vélib’ map
    Location of Montparnasse Cemetery from above on monumentum.fr

    Next: The Birth of Forms by Zadkine

    Sartre & de Beauvoir Sartre & de Beauvoir Sartre & de Beauvoir Sartre & de Beauvoir Montparnasse Cemetery and Tower
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  • ForestqueenNYC's Profile Photo

    Montparnasse Cemetery

    by ForestqueenNYC Updated May 18, 2007

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    Montparnasse Cemetery is very near to Place Denfert Rochereau and the Catacombs so you could combine this trip with the Catacombs, Rue Daguerre, and the park at Denfert Rochereau. Montparnasse Cemetery has many famous people buried in it, including Serge Gainsbourg and Jean Seaberg.

    If you have any Parisian roots and you are interested in genealogy, you may find some ancestors buried here also.

    Montparnasse Cemetery
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  • barryg23's Profile Photo

    Montparnasse Cemetery

    by barryg23 Updated May 30, 2006

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    The peaceful Montparnasse cemetery is the resting place of many famous French men and women as well as some noted foreigners who made Paris their home. You can pick up a map at the entrance which points out the graves of Samuel Beckett, Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Baeuvioir and Man Ray among others.

    In the center of the cemetery is Horace Daillion's "Le Génie du Sommeil Eternel" (The Spirit of Eternal Sleep) which was donated to the city in 1902 by the artist.

    The cemetery is open daily and is located off the Boulevard Edgar-Quinet in the shadows of the Tour Montparnasse.

    Sartre/De Beauvoir grave in Montparnasse Cemetery Le G��nie du Sommeil Eternel

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  • Rojo72's Profile Photo

    Cimitière Montparnasse

    by Rojo72 Written Feb 13, 2005

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    OK, so everyone "is supposed" to go to Père Lachaise to see the famous tombs and I've been there too. On my first visit to Paris in 1994 however we went to Cimitière Montparnasse instead. It's pretty much the same, but less people and SMALLER, which is a good thing.

    In the cemetery you can for instance visit the tomb of Jean-Paul Sartre and his Simone de Beauvoir. Afterwards you might want to check out Tour Montparnasse nearby or walk up to the Luxemburg gardens.

    Directions:
    Cimitière Montparnasse is in the northern part of the 14th arr. Metrostations closeby are Raspail, Edgar Quinet and a little further away Denfert Rochereau.

    We entered from the south but to my knowledge there are entrances both from north and south.

    The tomb of Sartre and Beauvoir at Montparnasse
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  • mydreamquest's Profile Photo

    Montparnasse Cemetery from Tour Montparnasse

    by mydreamquest Updated Dec 7, 2004

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    While atop the Tour Montparnasse, I saw the Montparnasse Cemetery where I'd just walked about trying to find names of important contributers to life.

    While looking down, notice the line down the middle which is a road that divides the cemetery in half. To the left of the front half, that is where the famous philosopher of Existentialism, Satre has been laid to rest.

    Other famous people buried in Montparnasse Cemetery include the composer of my favorite opera aria "Printemps Qui Commence" Camille Saint-Saens; writer Samuel Beckett, Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1969; Poet Cesar Vallejo (darn! only just realized this :( ); Edgar Quinnet (the street just next to this cemetery; he's a famous historian); Charles Garnier (the architect of the Garnier Opera house and an infamous artistic opponent of the construction of the Eiffel Tower); Composer Cesar Franck; and Andre Citroen (the famous French Automobile maker).

    The cemetery is open Daily from about 8-9am until 17:30-18:00.

    The guard person working at the cemetery may not speak english. If you cannot speak much French just say: "Carte Sil'vous plais."

    Montparnasse Cemetery from Tour Montparnasse
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  • lilnation's Profile Photo

    Resting Place

    by lilnation Written Dec 3, 2004

    Taking time to explore the streets around my hotel I discovered the Cimetiere de Montparnasse. The cemetery opened sometime in the 1800's .This is the resting place of many famous French intellectuals' as well as foreigners. Take your time it is a nice quiet relaxing walk if you have time. You will notice a few sculptures as well.

    Cimitiere
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  • Bregman's Profile Photo

    Not just for the dead

    by Bregman Updated Nov 27, 2004

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    Not really 'off the beaten path', but still, not as packed with tourists as the other sites. Try visiting one of Paris cemeteries. This photo was taken in Montparnase cemetery. You'll find quite a lot of Parisians taking a stroll between the tombstones.

    Who is Ricardo?

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  • OrlandoBR's Profile Photo

    Cimetière du Montparnasse

    by OrlandoBR Updated Sep 15, 2003

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    OK, everybody raves about how cool and fun the Père-Lachaise is, and I totally agree. But people seem to neglect this wonderful, fun-filled cemetery here... the Cimetière du Montparnasse. It's got famous people, lovely morbid statues, and some post-modern tombs like I had never seen!

    Here you'll find the tombs of Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Emile Durkheim, Brancusi, Bartholdi (the Statue of Liberty sculptor), Camile Saint-Saëns, César Frank, and many other tombs, of unknown people , that are nonetheless great works of art.

    Pictures on travelogue.

    Seen from the Tour Montparnasse
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  • davehood's Profile Photo

    Hunting through the graveyards...

    by davehood Written Aug 24, 2002

    Hunting through the graveyards for well-known people is fascinating. I like classical music... finding Gabriel Faure is quite a challenge.

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