Montparnasse Cemetery


May 23, 2022

The Montparnasse cemetery is located in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Originally, it was called South Cemetery. It was created in 1824 during the implementation of the first urban planning policies and more particularly on the occasion of the establishment of a network of Parisian cemeteries outside the old limits of the capital. Covering an area of ​​19 hectares, it is bounded by rue Froidevaux to the south, rue Victor-Schœlcher to the east, boulevard Raspail to the northeast, boulevard Edgar-Quinet to the north, and rue de la Gaîté West. With 35,000 concessions, it houses the memory of a large number of personalities: politicians, religious personalities, thinkers of the human condition, artists working in the most varied fields, artisans of technical progress, explorers, etc. Thus, a number of individual tombs echo the events that have occurred over the past two centuries that have marked minds or hearts. In addition, public monuments recall two dramatic events experienced by the capital in 1870 and 1871: the siege of Paris and then the Commune.


The Montparnasse cemetery was opened in 1824 outside the Montparnasse barrier to the south of the Farmers General enclosure which then delimited the city. It is one of four cemeteries commissioned in the first two decades of the 19th century outside the city limits, the other three being the Père Lachaise cemetery (1804), to the east of the city, the Passy cemetery (1820), to the west and the Montmartre cemetery (1825) laid out on the site of a small pre-existing cemetery. The site was once occupied by three farms. There still remains in the cemetery a tower of one of the many flour mills in the Parc de Montsouris and Montparnasse districts. At the beginning of the 19th century, the land was purchased on the initiative of Nicolas Frochot, prefect of the Seine, to open one of the three cemeteries outside Paris. The first burial took place on July 25, 1824. When the cemetery opened, the mill became the caretaker's house. It is classified as a historic monument by a decree of November 2, 1931. Then open around the new place of worship marble companies, working with sculptors who were installed nearby, such as François Rude, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux then Antoine Bourdelle. The events of 1870 and 1871 gave rise to the erection in the eastern part of the cemetery of two monuments in homage, including the victims of the Franco-German war of 1870, in particular during the siege by the German armies: of Paris from September 18, 1870 to January 26, 1871, of Strasbourg, as recalled by an annex monument dedicated to the prefect of the Bas-Rhin Valentin, erected at a time when the capital of Alsace had become German by virtue of the Treaty of Frankfurt of May 10, 1871, but also the bodies of the communards slaughtered in the during Bloody Week from May 21 to 28, 1871. In 1890, the opening of rue Émile-Richard cut the cemetery in two, the majestic alleys of the small eastern part of the cemetery being disproportionate, the circulation plan for this part was redrawn. For the monuments visible in the cemetery:

Contemporary era

The main entrance to the cemetery is located to the north on the boulevard Edgar Quinet, historian and republican politician who went into exile during the Second Empire. He returned to be elected deputy in 1870 but died just before having seen the definitive establishment of the Republican regime in France, which he called for. He rests in the center of the cemetery (11th division). The main part of the cemetery west of rue Émile-Richard is divided into 21 divisions. The numbering follows the order of a spiral starting from the round-po