The Montmartre Cemetery (French: Cimitière du Nord) is a surprisingly popular destination for history lovers since it is the final resting place of many famous French personalities and international figures who lived and worked in Paris.
Interesting facts about the cemetery:
- It was opened in 1825 on the site of an old quarry from which, from the Gallo-Roman era, gypsum was extracted, and, therefore, due to its location, initially called the Cemetery of the Large Quarries.
- During the French Revolution, from 1793 to 1794, over 2,600 people were guillotined in Paris. The quarry was used as a mass grave for all who lost their lives during this time.
- The Pont Caulaincourt, a metal lattice bridge built in 1888, spans over the 11-hectare (27 acres) cemetery.
- The cemetery is also home to a large group of homeless cats. They live amongst the tombs, quietly sunning themselves on the marble tombstones.
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Montmartre Tours & Activities
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Montmartre Cemetery Pictures
The Montmartre Cemetery is the third-largest necropolis in the city, after the Père Lachaise cemetery and the Montparnasse cemetery. Today more than 20,000 people are buried in the cemetery under some of the most elegant and beautifully designed monuments.
10 famous people buried in the Montmartre Cemetery
In Paris, the Montmartre Cemetery is perhaps the most celebrated necropolis after Père Lachaise Cemetery – many famous people have been laid to rest here. These are just 10 of them.
Dalida – full name Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti – was born in Cairo, Egypt, on 17 January 1933 to Italian parents. In 1954, she won the Miss Egypt beauty contest, and in 1956, began a 31-year singing career.
She performed in seven different languages which made her appealing to Arab, French, Italian and English audiences. Dalida was the first singer to receive platinum and diamond discs.
While she was professionally very successful, her private life was too melodramatic and complicated. Dalida died by suicide in her Parisian home on 3 May 1987. Alongside her body was a note that read, “La vie m’est insupportable… Pardonnez-moi” which translates to “Life is unbearable for me… Forgive me”.
Alexandre Dumas the Younger
“Everything was believed except the truth.” – Alexandre Dumas the Younger.
Alexandre Dumas the Younger (1824–1895) was one of the leading French dramatists of the last quarter of the 19th century. He wrote novels and plays, establishing the genre known as the problem, or thesis, play.
His most famous work is “La Dame aux Camélias”, published in 1848, which was adapted into Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata”, as well as numerous stage and film productions, usually titled “Camille” in English-language versions.
“A work of art is a corner of creation seen through a temperament.” – Émile Zola.
Émile François Zola (1840–1902) was a French writer, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism.
His works are infused with realism, as he wanted to create accurate portrayals of what life was like at the time. Zola illustrated this principle chiefly in a series of 20 novels under the general title “Les Rougon-Macquart” published between 1871 and 1893.
Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805) was a French genre and portrait painter. He worked in the clear, bright color and lighter attitude typical of 18th-century painting, but introduced a Dutch-influenced realism into French genre painting and portraiture.
During the 1760s and 1770s, the painter commanded some of the highest prices in the homeland and abroad. By the 1780s, Neoclassicism had risen to popularity in France and Greuze’s work went out of fashion – he died unnoticed and nearly penniless.
Jean Bauchet (1906–1995) was a French acrobat, cabaret singer, and dancer. In the 1950s and 60s, he founded several casinos and hotels in Lebanon and Marocco and owned the Moulin Rouge and the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris.
The full-size statue of a naked man sculpted by Bertrand Richard sits on the grave of Jean Bauchet.
Guy Pitchal (1922–1989) was a psychoanalyst known for working with many French celebrities, including the singer Dalida, who is buried nearby.
The statue of the psychoanalyst in the cemetery looks really interesting – the face carved into the stone creates the illusion that his eyes are following passing visitors. It makes perfect sense that a psychoanalyst should have such a fascinating monument.
Joseph Isidore Samson
Joseph Isidore Samson (1793–1871) was a French actor and playwright. Between 1826 and 1863, he worked at the Comédie Française in Paris.
He wrote several comedies, among them “La Belle-Mère et le gender” (1826), and “La Famille poison” (1846).
Alfred Dehodencq (1822–1882) was a French painter of human types and genre scenes. While he considered himself to be a Last of the Romantics, his work is generally categorized with the mid-19th-century Orientalist artistic movement.
His vivid oil paintings and watercolors are exposed in the Louvre in Paris, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Théodore Champion (1873–1954) was a Swiss cyclist, philatelist and stamp dealer. He won the Swiss championship in the sprint four times: in 1892, 1893, 1895 and 1896.
In 1948, he took French citizenship. Theodore Champion made a great contribution to philately and collecting stamps and even had a hand in the creation of the Paris Postal Museum.
Daniel Iffla otherwise known as Osiris (1825–1907) was one of the greatest philanthropists of the 19th century. He declared the Institut Pasteur as the sole beneficiary of his will, enabling it to develop and extend its influence, something it continues to do today.
His grave is white marble surmounted by a large bronze reproduction of Michelangelo’s statue Moses (completed in 1515; the Basilica Eudoxiana, Rome, Italy).
The cemetery is a nice place to walk around in. Quiet and peaceful. Many beautiful old trees. Stray cats occasionally jump out from around corners, small birds chirp and occasional other lookie-loos pass by as well.
Address: 20 Avenue Rachel, 75018 Paris, France
Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau: Paris