Famous Cemeteries in Paris
Let yourself be seduced by the gloomy charm of the cemeteries. The cemeteries of Paris are both elegant and quiet, ideal to take a break after a visit to the cemeteries.
Cemetery tourism attracts millions of travelers around the world. The French capital is also famous for its tombs, so much so that National Geographic has included two cemeteries in the list of the 12 best in the world.
The chosen ones are the famous cemeteries of Père Lachaise and Montmartre but there is much more to discover. If you are looking for what to see and do in Paris, this article will help you plan your vacation.
1. Cemetery of Père Lachaise
Probably the most famous cemetery in the world. Its construction is a consequence of the Edict of Saint Cloud, an ordinance that provided for the burial of corpses outside the city walls. Indeed, at the beginning of the 19th century, this peaceful cemetery was located a few kilometers from the center.
Year after year - and not without a few difficulties - the cemetery has been welcoming both famous deceased and common people. The most famous grave is that of Jim Morrison who died in Paris in 1971. However, it is not the only one worth seeing:
- Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish musician (except for the heart which is in Warsaw) rests in Père Lachaise. The sculpture of a weeping muse watches over the place
- Georges Rodenbach, Belgian poet and novelist based in the French capital. His tomb represents Rodenbach himself emerging from a large granite block
- Oscar Wilde, the mausoleum was designed by Jacob Epstein and represents a winged figure, probably inspired by the poem "The Sphinx without a secret".
To discover the other tombs it is worth booking a guided tour with an expert who will take you for just over 2 hours and explain each of the secrets of the place.
After a good walk through the cemetery, it is normal to be a little hungry. In this case, I recommend you to book a table at Bistrot Père (Avenue du Père Lachaise 10).
- Price: between 40 € and 80 €
- How to get there: the nearest metro stations are Gambetta (lines 3 and 3B), Père Lachaise (lines 2 and 3) and Philippe Auguste (line 2)
2. Cimetière du Montparnasse
Montparnasse is one of the best neighborhoods in Paris. It was the epicenter of artistic life and today it is recommended both for staying and going out.
There are dozens of charming bars and restaurants such as Le Barbylone (famous for its craft beers) and Hardware Société (the Mecca for brunch lovers).
However, most tourists come here to visit the eponymous cemetery. Inaugurated in 1824, it is a veritable open-air museum as many tombs have been listed as Historical Monuments.
It stretches from the Montparnasse train station to Denfert-Rochereau square and is divided into two parts: Petit-Cimetière and Grand-Cimetière. The most famous tombs are those of Charles Baudelaire, André Citroën, Jean-Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett although the list could be longer.
- Price: admission is free
- How to get there: the cemetery is surrounded by the metro stations Raspail (line 4 and 6), Edgar Quinet (line 6), Denfert-Rochereau (line 4 and 6) and Gaîté (line 13)
If you are into the spooky and want to spend a scary night in Paris, you can not miss the night tour of ghosts where they will tell you all the legends and the most gruesome stories that hide their streets.
3. Cimetière de Passy
This tiny cemetery houses the tombs of aristocrats, industrialists and artists of the nineteenth century. A stroll through the cemetery will give you the opportunity to enjoy the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower and the tombs of Marcel Renault (pilot and founder of the eponymous company), the musician Claude Debussy, the impressionist painter Édouard Manet and Bảo Đại, the last emperor of Vietnam.
To access you will have to cross the monumental entrance gate and the reception pavilion (pavillon d'accueil) designed by architect René Berger in the early 1930s. If you want to schedule your route in advance, you can download the map from the official website.
- Price: admission is free
- How to get there: the cemetery is located near the Trocadero Gardens, just opposite the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The nearest metro stop is Trocadéro (line 6 and 9).
4. Cimetière de Montmartre
No stay in Paris can be considered complete without a stroll through the Montmartre. When the French capital was the art capital of the world, artists of the caliber of Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso strolled here. Its most visited monument is the Sacré Coeur Basilica, closely followed by the neighborhood's cemetery.
Like its cousin, the Père-Lachaise cemetery, it is known to be a romantic oasis in the city. Its most famous graves are those of film director François Truffaut, writer Alexandre Dumas and impressionist painter Edgar Degas.
Thanks to its cobblestone streets and cafes with history, Montmartre is the romantic destination par excellence. To know all the plans, I recommend you to read the article that explains what to see and do in Montmartre.
- Price: free
- How to get there: the nearest metro stops are La Fourche (line 13), Blanche (line 2) and Place de Clichy (line 2 and 13).
5. Cimetière de Picpus
Although it is not among the most famous cemeteries, it is certainly worth a visit. Its origin is linked to the French Revolution and the following period of terror. It is estimated that between 16,000 and 40,000 people were executed and their remains ended up in the Picpus cemetery.
Today it is a private cemetery and only the descendants of the victims of the Terror can be buried here. The most visited tomb is that of the Marquis de La Fayette, a military man, politician and staunch defender of democratic principles.
He played a crucial role in the creation of the United States and his tomb is the destination of many American tourists.
If you decide to leave the center to visit this area of Paris, you can take the opportunity to see the monumental Place de la Nation, admire the trompe l'oeil "Fresque La Serre" (Rue de Reuilly) or play a game of pool in the famous Billard Nation Shoot Again room (Cité Debergue 9).
- Price: entrance to the cemetery costs about 2 €
- How to get there: the cemetery is located near the metro stations Bel-Air and Picpus, both on line 6.
6. Cimetière des Batignolles
Although it houses the mortal remains of André Breton and Paul Verlaine, it is not very famous and few tourists come here. The cemetery borders one of the noisiest and busiest ring roads in the city, the Boulevard Périphérique, but not even this artery manages to take away its charm.
Until the 1970s, it was the burial place of the Russian community in the French capital. For this reason, in a corner of the cemetery is the tomb of Léon Bakst, painter and set designer who designed splendid costumes for the Opera Garnier in Paris.
- Price: free
- How to get there: the entrance is located a short distance from Porte de Clichy, a station on metro lines 13 and 14 and on the RER C train line.
A neoclassical building designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot. When he was commissioned by the "Sun King", the monarch asked him to design a large church dedicated to the patron saint of Paris: Saint Geneviève. Its high dome and portico of Corinthian columns betray its original use.
Everything changed after the French Revolution. With the change of regime, this great temple became the burial place of the most famous Frenchmen. Here lie the remains of Èmile Zola, Voltaire, Marie Curie and other important figures.
By the way, if you want to know more about this historical period, you can visit the Musée Carnavalet which brings together a collection of objects used in the revolutionary period (Rue de Sévigné 23).
- Price: a standard ticket costs about 11 euros. If you want to include the climb to the panoramic point you will have to pay about 15 €
- How to get there: the most convenient metro stop is Cardinal Lemoine (line 10).
In the 18th century, there was no place left in Paris to bury the dead. To cope with the emergency, the authorities decided to move the bones from the mass graves in the subway quarries hidden between the banks of the Seine and the city center.
The first visits were made at the end of the 19th century and more than 100 years later they continue to arouse the interest of tourists. Before descending into the bowels of the capital, a sign warns "Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la mort" (Stand up! This is the empire of death). The tours are very suggestive and last between one and two hours.
Normally, the meeting point for the tours is the Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy. For more information, I recommend you to read the article on the visits to the catacombs of Paris.
- Price: between 30 € and 80 €
- How to get there: the nearest metro stop is Denfert-Rochereau (lines 4 and 6)
9. Napoleon's tomb
After having ordered the construction of the monumental Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV of France, nicknamed the "Sun King", had the Hôtel des Invalides built. In principle, this structure provided accommodation and hospital care for soldiers wounded in battle.
It is not a real cemetery, yet it houses the remains of the most famous Frenchman in the world: Napoleon Bonaparte. Twenty-one years after his death, the emperor returned to Paris for the last time and since then he rests in a large sarcophagus of red quartzite.
In addition to the tomb, the structure houses the Army Museum and the Museum of Relief Maps. To deepen your knowledge, I recommend reading the post on visits to the Musée des Invalides and the tomb of Napoleon.
- Price: a ticket for adults is about 15 €. Children under 25 years old, citizens of the European Union enter for free
- How to get there: the nearest metro stop is the Invalides (lines 8 and 13).
10. Tomb of the unknown soldier
During World War I, France lost 1.5 million men. These soldiers died in the grueling trench warfare that mainly concerned the eastern front with Germany. After the conflict, the authorities decided to erect a monument under the Arc de Triomphe.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a tribute to an anonymous Gallic soldier who died in the terrible Battle of Verdun. An eternal flame pays tribute to the nameless victims of all wars.
- Price: free
- How to get there: the nearest metro stops are Kléber (line 6) and Argentine (line 1).
Can you visit during the night?
Sorry, cemeteries do not usually open after sunset. If you want to do such an activity, you can opt for a night cruise on the Seine, a walking tour of the old town or a tour of Montmartre in a Citroën 2 CV.
Other popular options are private tours by segway, bike or hop-on/hop-off bus. For more information, I recommend you to read the article that explains everything you need to know to visit Paris by night.