Paris - Ile De France Section
Cimetiere des Chiens - Dogs' Cemetery - Asnieres
Cimetiere des Chiens, the only animal necropolis in the world
Cimetiere des Chiens, the only animal necropolis in the world!
This unique site is located in Asnières-sur-Seine on the western outskirts of Paris.
Getting there requires therefore a little effort.
There's indeed a 15mn walk from the two metro stations that serve it, but it's well worth it!
If you choose to arrive from the station Mairie de Clichy (as I did) you’ll have to cross the Pont de Clichy.
The good thing is that the bridge offers a prime view of the stunning Art Nouveau gate of the cemetery.
Cimetiere des Chiens, a brief history
But first a little history, the history of the Parisians and their pets.
Until the late 19th century nothing was planned for the burial of pets in the city.
The law voted on June 21, 1898 established that cats and dogs and other pets could henceforth be buried (however, a good 100m from inhabited areas).
This opened the door for the founding of a graveyard for animals!
On May 2, 1899 the actress, journalist and women's right campaigner Marguerite Durand co-founded with Georges Harmois the Société Française Anonymne du Cimetière des Chiens et Chats et autres Animaux Domestiques.
On June 15th of the same year, Marguerite and Georges purchased half of the Ile des Ravageurs in Asnières.
This island, situated at the foot of Pont de Clichy, was attached to the bank in 1975.
In 1900, Asnières had still retained a bucolic appearance despite being at Paris’ door step!
It was very appealing to the Parisians in search of fresh air and 'Dimanche au bord de l'eau'.
Many Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters indeed painted them resting and chatting under the shades of willows, enjoying a pick-nick by the Seine or a boat ride...
The location was ideal, away from the houses, yet very accessible!
The Cimetiere des Chiens opened at the end of summer 1899.
The island was landscaped into a large garden divided in four sections for dogs, cats, birds and other pets.
It needed a grand entrance, so the architect Eugène Petit created a stunning Art Nouveau gate!
The Cimetiere des Chiens became immediately popular with pets lovers.
It remained so for decades.
However, it eventually encountered serious maintenance and funding issues.
It was nearly closed in 1987 to the dismay of the local residents and many pet owners who owned a grave there.
The Mairie d’Asnières (town hall) succeeded in having the Art Nouveau classified Historical Monument!
The entire cemetery was consequently protected for its unique historical and artistic value.
The Cimetiere des Chiens was saved!
It underwent a complete makeover after consolidation and re-design work of the riverbank.
On February 1, 1997 it was placed under the exclusive management of the Mairie d’Asnières.
A cemetery for all animals
The Cimetiere des Chiens contains the graves of many domesticated animals, but also of animals you wouldn't have thought could be tamed!
Marguerite Durand’s horse was the first 'resident' of the Cimetiere des Chiens.
He was buried in 1900 by the entrance to the cemetery.
His grave is located next to the impressive memorial erected in 1900 to the memory of the dog Barry.
He is not, however, the only horse buried in this extraordinary necropolis.
You will also find the graves of the racehorses Masserau and Troy Town (died in 1898) and those of the ponies Ilette, Julie and Agatha.
Barry was a St-Bernard rescue dog who became famous for saving 40 lives during his career at the Hospice du Grand St-Bernard in the Alps.
Oddly, Barry is not buried in the Cimetiere des Chiens!
Instead, he was stuffed and is exhibited in the Swiss Natural History Museum in Bern!
Many others dogs in the service of humans were buried in the Cimetiere des Chiens.
Moustache, the mascot of Napoleon's Great Army, accompanied the veterans between 1799 and 1811.
He became so famous that he even met the Emperor.
The story indeed goes that the veterans taught him the military salute he executed for Napoleon by lifting his leg to the level of his ear!
Moustache’s stele is next to Barry’s memorial by the entrance to the cemetery.
His memorial, unveiled in 2006, is the last official monument inaugurated to date in the Cimetiere des Chiens.
As you move towards the center of the cemetery, you'll find another memorial dedicated to the first German Shepherds police dogs.
This monument was unveiled in 1912, a few years after the French Police began to use animals.
It pays tribute to Dora and Papillon.
Both dogs worked in the police station of Asnières and died of old age.
Sadly Top and Leo were killed in action.
You'll also find the graves of Dick, Drapeau and Mémère, these amazing mascot war dogs that kept our Poilus company in the WWI trenches.
A lovely sculpture represents a little bitch stretching her leg towards a helmeted soldier.
Born in 1914, Mémère remained for 15 years the mascot of the Chasseurs à Pied Infantry Regiment.
These graves and monuments are all endearing.
They all translate the unconditional love, faith and devotion animals dedicate to their human masters.
I also love this moving story of the stray dog that came to die at the gates of the cemetery on May 15, 1958.
He became the 40,000th animal to be buried in the Cimetiere des Chiens.
You’ll find his stele by the entrance.
The Cemetery is the pantheon of all these exceptional war dogs, police dogs, rescue dogs and stray dogs, but also star dogs.
Rintintin, the legendary German Shepherd of the televised series of the same name, was indeed buried in the Cimetiere des Chiens!
There is also the grave of Poilu, the actor dog that appeared in several theater plays!
You'll discover the grave of Prince of Wales, another actor dog that appeared in 406 representations in the Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris!
The Animals’ Pantheon
The Cimetiere des Chiens is also the necropolis of anonymous pets, faithful and loving companions deeply missed and mourned by their masters.
Stroll among their small tombs and discover the tender, often poignant tributes left by their masters.
These reflect the attachment, love and grief they feel for their beloved pets.
Each tomb is unique.
Some graves are simple.
Others are real mausoleums.
Most are beautifully maintained.
Some bear a dedication, a few tender words or poems.
Others are adorned with animals statues or the pet’s favourite toys.
Here are fresh flowers placed on the grave of a beloved Pupuce.
There is the tombstone and photo of Sultan, the date of death of dear Minouchette, Ulysse, Ruby...
The Cimetiere des Chiens contains also the graves of very unusual pets!
You'll come across the graves of the sheep Faust, the hen Cocotte and the monkey Kiki!
You'll also discover those of birds, rabbits, hamsters, fish and of Marguerite Durand ‘s pet lion Tiger!
And of course you will find many graves of cats, crumbling under flowers, photos and dedicates.
The Cimetiere des Chiens is also a green haven for the many stray cats that seem to live there permanently.
They have become the Guardians of this Animal Pantheon!
You’ll see them walk gracefully along the aisles, sneak between two graves and jump in an empty flower vase and bask in the sun.
An association of local residents and volunteers built them la Maison des Chats – Cats’ Home where they come to feed and care for them every day.
The Cimetiere des Chiens has somehow become a Paradise for stray cats.
It is also one of Paris' best-kept secrets.
It's also a great family outing as children will enjoy discovering it.
Opening hours: Open daily except Monday
16March-15Oct: - 10am-6pm
16Oct-15March: - 10am-4.30pm
Closed on Public Holidays except on 1st November
Directions: Asnières-sur-Seine - no4 Pont de Clichy
Metro: Mairie de Clichy or Gabriel Péri on Line 13 or RATP Bus 540 or 54
Coordinates: Lat 48.910272 - Long 2.298020