Cimetière du Montmartre

Cimetière du Montmartre (68)

The Montmartre cemetery is not as big as those of Père Lachaise and Montparnasse, but is well worth having a wander around in order to fully appreciate the bohemian and picturesque air of the district. 

In 1798 the first cemetery was placed measuring a little more than one hectare, but it soon became too small. In 1825 the cemetery was placed in an old plaster quarry. This quarry had given the district the name of Barrière Blanche, White District. Originally some galleries in the quarry had been used to clandestinely bury victims of the uprisings of the French Revolution. 

In the past it was a creepy spot, full of common graves where the remains of the poor were thrown. But after a profound remodelling in 1879, it now contains the remains of many leading figures, above all artists from the early 19th century.

The composer Hector Berlioz liked this cemetery so much that he decided to settle here, once he had died, of course. Other personalities buried in Montmartre are the painter and sculptor Edgar Degas, the writer Stendhal, the dancer Nijinsky, the film director François Truffaut and the writer Émile Zola. The composer Jacques Offenbach, to whom Paris owes a great deal since he was the creator of the Can-Can tune, has his tomb here. So does La Goulue, one of the first dancers of the Can-Can who was a model for Toulouse Lautrec.

Close to the Montmartre cemetery, on the outskirts of the Square Roland Dorgeles is another cemetery that often goes unnoticed. It is the Saint Vincent cemetery. Here rest other artists from the district such as the composer Arthur Honegger and the writer Marcel Aymé. The most outstanding tomb in this small cemetery is that of the painter Maurice Utrillo, the artist of Montmartre par excellence, who immortalised corners of the district in many of his paintings.

So now you know, we recommend this quiet walk among the brilliance and creativity of these illustrious figures.

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