Montmartre Cemetery

Why You Should Visit the Cemetery of Montmartre

The Cemetery of Montmartre is one the city’s smaller cemeteries and we think it’s one of the top things to do in Montmartre. The cemetery is steeped in the rich history of Paris and is a peaceful haven away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets. This guide has information on the history, practical information and why you should visit.

The cemetery has been around for close to 200 hundred years and is definitely a monument to visit in Paris. It’s a small detour if you’re coming down from the top of Montmartre (or the Sacre-Cœur) and makes for a great walk down to the Moulin Rouge.

History of Montmartre Cemetery

The history of the Montmartre Cemetery dates back to the 1770s where the central Paris cemetery – the Cimetière des Innocents – was closed due to overcrowding. With the burgeoning population, the city decided to ban burials with in the inner city. Because of this, 4 cemeteries were established to the North, East, South and West of the city.

The Montmartre cemetery was officially inaugurated on the 1st January 1825. The original name for the cemetery was Cimetière des Grandes Carrières as it was based in the old abandoned gypsum quarry of Montmartre. The quarry had been operational since the Medieval period with gypsum helping to build much of Paris’ buildings. Up until the late 1800s the quarry was used as a graveyard for the victims of the the French Revolution.

It’s the third largest cemetery in modern-day central Paris behind the Père Lachaise (West) and the Montparnasse (South) cemeteries.

What to Know Before You Visit

Before planning your visit to the Cemetery of Montmartre, we’ve added a few key points below to help you.

  • The entrance is located down a flight of stairs which you’ll find on Rue Caulaincourt on the south side, just before the bridge
  • It takes around 10 minutes walking from the Moulin Rouge
  • It’s free to visit
  • There are free toilets
  • Next to the toilets you can borrow a laminated map with the location of notable graves
  • It’s open daily. Like many parks and cemeteries in Paris, the hours change from Fall/Winter to Spring/Summer
  • Current Winter opening hours are from 8:30am-5:30pm
  • The nearest metro stops are Place du Clichy (Line 2 & 13) and Lamarck-Caulaincourt (Line 12)
errance to cemetery montmartre
The steps leading down to the entrance from Rue Caulincourt

What to See and Do in the Cemetery

The Montmartre Cemetery is around 11 hectares, contains over 20,000 tombs and is home to 50 stray cats! It’s a beautiful cemetery to stroll around, relax in and take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding areas.

Famous Graves in the Cemetery

There are many graves of people of note in the the Montmartre Cemetery. Not as many or perhaps as famous compared to the much bigger Pére Lachasie cemetery in the East of the city but there are plenty of incredibly interesting historical French figures.

  • Alexandre Dumas: A French author who famously wrote The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask. He also has a metro station named after him on line 2.
  • Émile Zola A French novelist and journalist who was known for his part in the Dreyfus Affair.
  • François Truffaut A French ‘New Wave’ director and film maker.
  • Dalida: An Italian-French singer famous for ‘I Found my Love in Portofino’

Spot the local cats

The cemetery, like others in Paris, is home to stray cats with some estimation that it’s home to over 50 felines! In my experience I would say that estimate is perhaps on the higher side having not seen more than a couple during my last visit. However if you walk around you’ll no doubt run into a cat or two that are out stalking the crows or hanging out on a tombstone.

cats Montmartre Cemetery

A lot of people ask ‘where to the Montmartre Cemetery cats live?’. Well you may stumble upon improvised shelters made from cat carriers hidden under bushes – like the one pictured. It’s likely that the cemetery caretakers feed them occasionally and help with shelter.

where cats live in cemetery montmartre

Enjoy the Peace and Quiet

The busy surrounding streets bordering the cemetery are really busy and loud. It’s also difficult to find anywhere to sit down to take a break! If you’re spending the day in Montmartre then the cemetery is a great place to stop at on your way down to the city centre.

It’s a rare haven for locals who want to relax, take a break and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. You’ll find that there’s plenty of benches around the park to sit down on. Many Parisians come to the cemetery to read and enjoy some peace and quiet!

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