Parisian "Cities of the Dead" are haunting, fascinating, traffic-free places for a ramble and a bonanza for photographers. Between huge, ornate mausoleums for the rich and/or famous to crumbling, forgotten crypts overgrown with vines, they are poignant studies of architecture, art and history. And they are free!
Near to the the Sacre-Coeur is one of four cemeteries created on the outer fridges of Paris when burial grounds within the core of the city were abolished in 1786. Those unfortunate pieces of real estate had filled to overflowing and become, frankly, odiferous hazards to the health of their still-breathing neighbors. Situated below and to the west of the church, Cimetière de Montmartre settles into the depression of a former quarry that served as a sad mass grave for some of the thousands killed during the Revolution and Paris Commune.
I brought The Husband, who is a saxophonist in his spare time, here to see the resting place of Adolphe Sax - inventor of that horn. My must-sees were the tombs of composer Hector Berlioz, painters Edgar Degas and Gustave Moreau, novelist Alexandre Dumas Jr., and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, among others. Émile Zola was once interred here as well but although his monument remains, the rest of him was moved to more impressive quarters in the Panthéon.
You can pick up a free map at the entrance on Avenue Rachel or download and print it here:
There is also a public restroom at the entrance.
Hours: Mon-Fri 8-6: Sat 8:30-6; Sun 9-6
From Nov - mid March: closing times are at 5:30 all days
Although not having as many famous people as Pere-Lachaise,Montmartre cemetery is more walkable, although it does have its stairs and slopes too. Many of Montmartre's artists and painters are buried here along with a few musicians and politicians. Some more obscure artists , known mainly to French people also and even one tomb that has nobody in it.....yet. Nowadays the most well-known is of course the memorial to Dalida, one of France's most well-liked singers, and although deceased since 1987, actually it is the anniversary of her death today 3rd May as I type this, has a perpetual mountain of flowers surrounding it. Others include dancers Nijinsky and Tcherina and also Poulbot, the painter who made the Paris urchin so well known. The tomb with nobody in it, is a sepulture that Siné, a French cartoonist has reserved for himself and all his friends!!! But he is not dead yet. The tomb sports a cactus with one of the points lifted in an impertinant and provocative gesture as if to say "f*** you", as befits the man. The epitaph reads "Mourir, plutot crever!!" - "Die, rather clap out".
Blanche or Place de Clichy is the closest metro.
The Montmartre cemetery was one of four new graveyards that were made in the early 19th century. After the old Paris inner city yard closed, for health reasons the new fields were planned in the suburbs.
The Cimetière de Monmartre is squeezed in the city at the West side of the Butte, the Montmartre hill. It's strange to see the rue Joseph de Maistre overpass just tops the area.
One of the most famous graves is the one of female singer Dalida.
It's atmospheric, it highlights the bohemian nature of Montmartre - a cemetery that has been here since the the 19th century and is the final resting place of any number of artists, local and international. Arguably the most famous residents are dancer Nijinsky and artist Degas (or Famille de Gas as found on the tomb) along with the more recent Francois Truffaut. But set among the sprawling gravestones and tombs are a great number of 'lesser' mortals - wealthy families, artists etc...
It certainly climbs the hillside, overlooked by residential blocks and surrounded by the narrow streets of Montmartre. Inside the cemetery is no less a warren – in spite of maps dotted round the site it can still be confusing – we never did find Nijinsky!
And what adds to the extraordinary nature of the cemetery is the fact the authorities built a road and bridge across the hallowed ground, with numerous tombs finding shelter from the traffic and pedestrians above.
Our plan wasnt really to visit this cemetary but we would pass it everyday to catch the train so we decided to stop by anyways. The cemetaries in France are so different from the once in the US. They are very similar to the cemetaries in New Orleans Louisiana. They are above ground, very old, but somewhat elegant (for lack of a better word). It isnt a must do while in Paris but it is something you can do if you have some time and are in the neighborhood.
This cemetery in Montmartre was a beautiful place to wander. It's much smaller than Paris's famous cemetery, but is the burial site of a few notable artists and authors.
For me, it was just another great moment in Montmartre.
Let's be honest, a trip to the cementery is not a tourist attraction, for some could be too morbid to even thing about it, but visiting montmartre cementery was an interesting and peaceful experience. I have to say that I never plan on gooing there but was actually in the area and I took it as a "cultural" visit, is interesting look at the graves ans see how different from the ones of my own country, I have never visit a cementery so old, so it was very interesting and not as bad or scary as I could thing it could be.
The cementery of montmartre is the resting place for dozens of artists, authors, inventors, and other talented souls. Pick up a map at the entrance and choose a direction. The cementery is very crowded and at some level difficult to walk around, I found many people with maps looking for specific tombs, but most seem desperate and lost, so I decided to forget about the map and stop looking for a tomb, and just had a peaceful walk, I still believe that's the ebst choice unless you have a very strong will and specific tomb to visit.
I don't visit cementeries that often, but it was kind of interesting to notice that there's a lot of cats in the cementery.
The Cimitiere Montmartre is not very large, but is the resting place of many famous writers, composers, painters, etc. One of our favorite composers who also wrote vividly about music was buried near the entrance and so we took a picture of his tomb. If you go in for this activity, there is a lot of “ been there seen that” in this place to photograph.
One evening at a street side restaurant, Joan is feeling pretty content now in Paris and tells me that she got this French menu stuff all figured out now. She tells me she is ordering the crepe that she found on the menu. So she orders it by pointing to it. When her meal arrives, she finds out that now she will be having the ½ duck breast over some sort of cauliflower mash concoction. Nice going, Joan! You can order for me next time too.
An evening boat ride along the Seine produced many different views of the same places we saw while walking earlier in the day. A very pleasant thing to do for it lasts about an hour and always feels romantic. We see a spot where many teens gather each evening and hang out, do some dancing to music, and generally have a good time on the edge of the water. If you didn’t see this from the boat, you would never know it was happening below street level sidewalks.
Somehow on one of our walk wanderings around, we end up in the old Cimetière de Montmartre (Montmartre Cemetery). We must have spent a couple of hours roaming around this place. There are many famous authors and historical figures laid to rest there. Some of the crypts are mighty spectacular – being miniature reproductions of basilicas etc. Some of these being about 8-15 feet tall with elaborate spires. We found all kind of ancient monuments, and since the roadway was build near the cemetery, some of the sections have the 6 foot crypts actually build under the raised bridge of the road. You hear the traffic buzzing by up above you. This was a quite bizarre picture. One grave site was that of Dalida, who was a popular and beautiful French cabaret singer. Her gilded life-size statue one of the most outstanding of the many sculpted works in this famous cemetery. This full body statue of her standing has giant golden rays shooting up from her head in a halo scene. Her grave site is quite spectacular and elaborate having carefully manicured flowers complete with a hedge of bushes. Some one is really taking care of her.
Le Cimetiere du Nord, better known as the Montmartre Cemetery, opened in 1825. It is not very big but it is very crowded, which makes it a bit difficult to get around. Because of its location, however, many French artists have been buried there, such as French writers Stendhal (The Red and the Black) and Alexandre Dumas Jr. (La Dame aux Camelias), film directors Sacha Guitry and Francois Truffault, painter Edgar Degas, and popular singer Dalida, just to name a few.
You can get a map of the cemetery at the main entrance, but even with the map we only managed to find about half the graves we were looking for (!). The Montmartre Cemetery is open every day and admission is free.
The cimetière de Montmartre is the biggest cemetary in the north of Paris. It is not as old, and not as big as the more famous Père Lachaise, but it is definitely worth a visit.
The cemetary was first opened in 1795, but already in 1789 there was a mass grave dug here to bury some tens of victims of the French revolution. After 1795, a lot of famous people were buried here like musicians Hector Berlioz and Adolphe Sax, scientists André-Marie Ampère and Jean Bernard Léon Foucault, painters Edgar Dégas and Gustave Moreau and the writers Alexandre Dumas and Emile Zola. The body of the last was moved to the Pantheon later, but there still is a monument to honour him at the cemetary.
The place looks a lot like Père Lachaise: a lot of old graves, very close to eachother, big old trees and somehow it always feels a bit creepy here. Very strange is the bridge that was made over the graveyard: a big, blue bridge made of steel that goes straight over a lot over graves. So some people that are buried here spend the rest of their time "under the bridge".
The author of numerous important plays, Alexandre Dumas fils was the illegitimate child of Marie-Catherine Labay, a dressmaker, and Alexandre Dumas, the author of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
The writer was legally recognized by his father in 1831 and moved to live with him.
Among his important novels, we can count La dame aux camelias (The Lady of the Camellias), inpired by a young courtesan met while living in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Alexandre Dumas fils died at Marly-le-Roi in 1895 and was buried in Cimetiere de Montmartre.