Visit the Paris Cemeteries
You might find it a little strange to stop by a cemetery whilst on holiday in Paris as there are so many other things to do in the city. But there are some truly beautiful cemeteries in Paris that are well worth visiting.
Some of these Paris cemeteries are top tourist attractions in Paris, steeped in history and displaying some spectacular architecture, while others are still hidden gems perfect for a quiet break. You might call them spooky, but many of these cemeteries in Paris are simply beautiful.
1. Père Lachaise Cemetery
The Père Lachaise is the most famous Paris cemetery and also one of the city’s top attractions. It is located north of Paris, in the 20th Arrondissement, and it is known worldwide for being the last home of a number of famous people.
The opening of the Père Lachaise Cemetery dates back to 1804. The tomb for the mythical lovers Eloïse and Abélard was one of the first ones here. This turned out to be a magnet for wealthy and famous people who wanted to be buried near them.
More than 69,000 decorative tombs and 1 million people have been buried in the cemetery. With this many tombs, it’s not hard to believe that this is the largest cemetery in Paris.
Père Lachaise is also the largest green space in Paris, the perfect place to go for a pleasant stroll in the fresh air. Wander around the graveyards and see if you can spot some famous names buried there.
For starters, there’s Oscar Wilde’s grave that has been covered in red lipstick-stained kisses by adoring admirers. Other famous names to look out for are Jim Morrison, French actress Sarah Bernhardt, composer Fréderic Chopin, Edith Piaf, Molière, and French writers Guillaume Apollinaire and Marcel Proust — Adress: 16 Rue du Repos, Paris 20. Open from 8 am to 6 pm.
TIP: the Père Lachaise is home to many legends of Paris. This top-rated walking tour with an expert guide explores the secrets of this incredible cemetery and the stories of all the famous artists and historical figures buried here.
2. Montmartre Cemetery
Another of the famous cemeteries in Paris is the Montmartre Cemetery. This tree-lined Paris cemetery is set in the bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre, in the 18th Arrondissement.
The Montmartre Cemetery opened its doors in 1825, and it looks pretty much like Père Lachaise but with the particularity of being crossed by the metallic bridge of Caulaincourt, built in 1888. The Montmartre Cemetery is set in a former gypsum quarry which creates an interesting atmosphere.
We suggest visiting this famous cemetery in Paris as part of this Montmartre walking tour (self-guided). Keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll see some living beings that prowl the graveyard. A large group of four-legged friends wander around the tombstones, only adding to the ambiance.
Perhaps because of the artistic nature of the area, numerous artists are buried in Montmartre Cemetery. Dalida, Hector Berlioz, Edgar Degas, Stendhal, François Truffaut, Jacques Offenbach, and Gustave Moreau are some greats buried here — Address: 20 Avenue Rachel, Paris 18. Open from 8 am to 6 pm.
3. Catacombs of Paris
The Catacombs of Paris is another of the famous cemeteries Paris has to offer and perhaps the most fascinating. The Catacombs is an underground cemetery set in the tunnels of former quarries right below the streets of Paris, in the 14th Arrondissement. Located 20 meters underground, there are a series of interesting tunnels and pathways where the remains of millions of Parisians lay.
In the late 18th century, due to public health concerns, the decision was taken to move the bodies from the Paris cemeteries in the city center below the ground. The quarries under the plain of Montrouge were selected as the location for the Catacombs.
This is one of the unique things to do in Paris and one of our favorite sites of Paris underground. It’s impossible to say if there are famous characters buried here, but some of the bones date back to Medieval Paris.
Be sure to travel with a small bag as there isn’t a place to store your bags and the tunnels are narrow. Whilst exploring, you’ll walk along a 1.5-kilometer circuit that’s one-way only, and you can marvel at the engineering spectacle that is the Paris Catacombs — Address: 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, Paris 14. Open from 9.45 am to 8.30 pm.
TIP: With a Skip-the-line Paris Catacombs Tour, you are in a small group accompanied by an expert guide. Learn all about the Paris Catacombs in a much more interactive experience. This special Catacombs Paris tour also explores some restricted sections which are not accessible to the general public. Not all guided tours explore these restricted sections, so be sure to book your tour through this link.
4. Montparnasse Cemetery
The Montparnasse Cemetery, in the 14th Arrondissement, is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Paris. Known by locals as the cemetery of the south, in opposition to Père Lachaise, which is in the north, it is less frequented than Père Lachaise but just as peaceful and tranquil. If you are staying in Montparnasse and are feeling tired of the city’s hustle and bustle, then escape to the Montparnasse Cemetery for a peaceful stroll.
The Montparnasse Cemetery was built on the site of three farms. The construction of this Paris cemetery took 20 years as the plot was sitting on old quarries.
There are around 300,000 people buried in this cemetery. You can wander along the tree-lined pathways and discover the Moulin de la Charité, an old flour windmill that belonged to one of the farms. When the cemetery was inaugurated, the mill was the house of the guardian.
The tombs of Baudelaire, Jean-Paul Satre, Simone de Beauvoir, Guy de Maupassant, Samuel Beckett, and Marguerite Duras are covered in pens and lipstick kisses from the countless people who have paid their respects at their graves — Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, Paris 14. Open from 8 am to 6 pm.
5. Picpus Cemetery
The Picpus Cemetery is tucked away in a secretive location in the 12th Arrondissement. This small private cemetery was the place where noblemen who had been guillotined at Place de la Nation during the French Revolution were thrown into mass graves.
There are believed to be around 1306 victims buried in the Cemetery all of whom were killed between the 14 June and the 27 July 1794. There are two mass graves and also beautiful tombstones for victims of the French Revolution and their families.
Among these tombstones, you will find the final resting place of the Maquis de Lafayette and his wife. This tomb is frequently visited by Americans visiting Paris and every 4 of July receives a little homage from the American authorities in Paris — Address: 35 Rue de Picpus, Paris 12. Open from Monday to Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm.
6. Passy Cemetery
The Passy Cemetery is one of the smallest cemeteries in Paris. Despite being the last home for only 2,600 Parisians, there are plenty of beautiful tombs to discover.
It was Napoleon I that first opened the Passy Cemetery in 1820. You’ll find this cemetery in one of the most expensive districts of Paris, that’s why it is known as the chicest cemetery in Paris.
The cemetery sits behind the Trocadéro and is surrounded by chestnut trees. This is one of the best places to visit near the Eiffel Tower, ideal for a quiet break far from the crowds. Actually, some of the tombs have a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower!
Famous names to look for are Edouard Manet, Claude Debussy, and Berthe Morisot. The last Emperor of Vietnam, the daughter of the last Shah of Persia, and some members of the family Romanov are also buried here.
Want to know an interesting fact about the Passy Cemetery? It is the only Parisian Cemetery that has a heated waiting room for mourners in winter — Address: 2 Rue du Commandant Schloesing, Paris 16. Open from 8 am to 6 pm.
7. Saint-Pierre Cemetery in Montmartre
The Calvaire Cemetery in Montmartre takes its name from a Calvary erected in the garden that extends it. It is the oldest cemetery in Paris, and also the smallest with less than 600 m², with only 85 tombs.
Opened at the end of the 17th century on the site of an old Merovingian necropolis, the Calvaire Cemetery was closed during the Revolution. All the tombs then disappeared, including the burial of the sculptor Pigalle, who died in 1785.
The Calvaire Cemetery was reopened from 1801 to 1831, the year in which the Cemetery of Saint Vincent in Montmartre opened. No more burials take place there, except those of descendants of people already buried here.
The tombs that you can see today belong to the representatives of the great aristocratic families of low Montmartre (the current 9th arrondissement), returning from emigration. It also hosts some tombs of the inhabitants of high Montmatre, including some millers. A common grave accommodates the remains of hundreds of French and foreign soldiers who fell in March 1814 during the capture of Paris by the Allies, united against Napoleon.
The cemetery opens its doors only on 1 November and (sometimes) during the European Heritage Days. If you cannot make it, nothing is lost! Climb the dome of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, which offers an exceptional panoramic view of all of Paris and its region… and of the Calvaire cemetery just below! — Address: 2 Rue du Mont-Cenis, Paris 18.
8. Charonne Cemetery
The Charonne Cemetery is a tiny parish cemetery that opened to the public in 1791. You’ll find this cemetery in the 20th Arrondissement, on the outskirts of Paris.
During the mid-19th century, the cemetery was enlarged, though it still only has around 650 graves. During the expansion of the graveyard, 800 skeletons wrapped in military clothing were found. After careful examination, it was determined that they were the remains of Confederates who were hastily buried in a mass grave in 1871.
Next to the cemetery sits the lovely Saint-Germain de Charonne Church. Compared to some of the other cemeteries in Paris this is a much quieter and less frequented (yet interesting) spot — Address: 20 Avenue Rachel, Paris 18. Open from 8 am to 6 pm.