Montmartre Cemetery – Cimetière du Nord
Montmartre Cemetery was opened in 1825 and is officially known as Cimetière du Nord.
It is one of the four large cemeteries created at the four cardinal points of Paris in the early 19th century.
They replaced the old parish cemeteries that were closed for reasons of sanitation.
Montmartre Cemetery was developed in the old lime quarries situated at the foot of the Butte Montmartre.
It is often compared to the latter for its romantic layout and appearance.
It indeed boasts a wealth of funeral monuments, vaults and chapels.
Some are grand, sometimes extravagant or simply understated.
Some are abandoned and fall in ruins; others disappear under flowers.
Cobbled alleys planted with century old maples, chestnuts, limes and cedars delineate the various sections of the cemetery.
Who was buried in Montmartre Cemetery?
Many famous people who lived in Montmartre in the 19th and 20th centuries, were buried there.
Impossible to mention them all, but here are some.
Singers, dancers and actors
You’ll most likely recognize the name of the singer and songwriter Michel Berger who died in 1992; he was married to the singer France Gall.
Michel Berger now shares his understated grave, which is enclosed in a Plexiglas window, with his daughter Pauline who sadly died in 1998 at the age of 19.
If you like rock music, you’ll probably know Frédéric Chichin aka Fred Chichin who formed Les Ritas Mitsouko band with his wife Catherine Ringer; he died in 2007 from a fast developing cancer; he was 53.
Dalida was a well-known singer of Italian origin; she grew up in Cairo, but spent most of her adult life in Paris where she died in 1987.
You’ll find her commemorative statue at the bottom of Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Montmartre.
You will also find the grave of the American singer Carole Denise Fredericks who lived in France where she died in 2001; she was the sister of the musician of Blues Taj Mahal.
His grave is decorated with a statue representing him as the puppet Petrushka, the main character of the ballet piece written by Igor Stravinsky.
If you are a fan of movies, you will undoubtedly have heard of Francois Truffaut; he was one of the biggest names in French New Wave cinema!
Montmartre Cemetery contains also many statues, all unique and beautiful, such as the statue on the grave of Jean Bauchet.
Jean Bauchet commanded the imposing bronze statue of the Nude Man to the sculptor Richard Bernard many years before his death.
You’ll also recognise the names of artists who lived in Montmartre during the 19th and early 20th century.
Among those are Théodore Chassériau, a great painter of the Romantic School.
Edgar Degas is worldwide known for his many paintings of dancers.
The grave of Fragonard, an influential artist of the 18th century, disappeared during the 19th century.
It is now marked with a cenotaph slab.
The 20th century Avant-garde artistic movement is well represented; you’ll indeed find the graves of the painter, graphic artist and writer Francis Picabia and the Jewish Romanian painter Victor Brauner.
You’ll also discover the grave of Francisque Poulbot, the ‘painter of the street children of Montmartre’, the little ‘Titis Parisiens’ since commonly known as ‘Petit Poulbots’.
You may want to discover the tomb of Louise Weber; the cabaret dancer, better known by her stage name La Goulue, invented the French cancan.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who immortalised her in his many drawings and paintings, is also buried there.
Writers and poets
So were so many writers and poets!
The name Rose Alphonsine Plessis aka Marie Duplessis, Countess of Perregaux might not mean anything to you.
However, it does when you learn that she was the courtesan who inspired Alexandre Dumas for his Dame aux Camélias; Marie and Alexandre are both buried in Montmartre Cemetery.
Théophile Gautier was one of the most popular French Romantic poets of his time.
The writer Marie-Henri Beyle better known under his pen name of Stendhal.
You’ll be a bit disappointed to find the poet and novelist Alfred de Vigny‘s understated grave wedged between several imposing chapels and the perimeter wall!
The authors, publishers and founders of the prestigious literary prize, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, share the same grave.
Composers, creators, explorers
If you enjoy music you’ll look for the graves of the German-born composer Jacques Offenbach and French composer Hector Berlioz.
The German-born architect of Jacques Hittorf is also buried in Montmartre; he built many Parisian landmarks such as the Gare du Nord, Cirque d’Hiver, the now disappeared rotundas of the Passage des Panaromas and the prestigious buildings that frame the Place de l’Etoile.
You’ll also find the grave of the explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot but also of Jean Marie Joseph Farina, the perfumer and creator of the Eau de Cologne that bears his name.
You’ll need at least half a day to get around if you want to properly discover Montmartre Cemetery.
Opening hours: Every day of the week from 8.30am-5.30pm or 6pm or 8.30pm depending on the season (except in bad weather)
Free access but not allowed 15mn prior to normal closing time
Directions: 18th district – Entrance 20 avenue Rachel
Metro: Place de Clichy on Lines 2,13 then follow rue Caulaincourt
Coordinates: Lat 48.885404 – Long 2.331111
Discover more on Montmartre
Montmartre Village Place du Tertre – Petit Cimetiere du Calvaire – Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre Church – Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre Church – Sacre-Coeur Basilica – Montmartre Abbey Sanctum Martyrium Crypt – Saint-Vincent Cemetery – Le Passe-Muraille sculpture – Le Mur des Je t’Aime – Abbesses Art Nouveau Metro station – Moulin Rouge – Bateau Lavoir – Montmartre grape harvest festival