English language guidebooks to paris cemeteries
Although the cemeteries of Paris are some of the most visited sites in the city -- more than a 3 million tourists visit Père-Lachaise each year alone -- there are very few dedicated cemetery guidebooks in English and one of those (Permanent Parisians) is terribly outdated.
To help fill this gap I have published reference two guides to the artwork in Paris’s major cemeteries, one for Père-Lachaise and the other for Montparnasse, Montmartre and Passy cemeteries (available on Amazon).
Designed primarily for art historians, art students and photographers these reference guides will help you locate and identify more than 2,700 works of art in three of the most beautiful outdoor museums in Paris: Père-Lachaise, Montparnasse and Montmartre Cemeteries.
Stories in Stone: Paris (Gibbs Smith 2013) by Doug Keister. Relying on the expertise and invaluable assistance of local Paris cemetery expert Marie Beleyme, Keister's latest guide provides the traveler with an easy-to-use guide to the major Paris cemeteries. It's packed full of handy information, fascinating stories and a wealth of detail neatly arranged and easy to use. He has also put Parisian burial practices in perspective with his seminal work on funeral symbology -- a nice addition as well.
french language guidebooks to paris cemeteries
Guide des Cimetières Parisiens (1990) by Jacques Barozzi. Dated and with an occasional inaccuracy, still this is a reasonably good overview of the major cemeteries in Paris. Arranged by cemetery and then division, with listings and information on notable burials; photos and maps for each cemetery discussed. Index of names.
Secrets des Cimetières de Paris (2012) by Jacques Barozzi, photos by Bernard Ladoux. Arranged by cemetery, division and name with its bilingual text (French and English). Although a bit dated this is still a wonderful overall guide to the major grave sites in the city cemeteries.
Guide des tombe d'hommes celebres (2003, 2008) by Bertrand Beyern. A singularly unique source of the most exhaustive listing of notable and near-notable burials not just in Paris but throughout all of France. He also provides excellent maps of the city's major cemeteries. Very easy to use with a superb index.
Le Père-Lachaise: Au coeur du Paris des vivant et des morts (2003) by Christian Charlet.
Les lieux de culte au cimetiére du Père-Lachaise (1999) by Michel Dansel. Not really a guide to the cemetery, this is a collection of short, anecdotal biographies of some of the more notable burials in Père-Lachaise. If your French is up to it you may find this interesting and perhaps even informative. Purchase a copy on amazon.
Au Père-Lachaise: Son Histoire, ses secrets, ses promenades, nouvelle edition (2007) by Michel Dansel is solely anecdotal. No photos and no maps.
Paris Secret (2010) by Guides Gallimard. This fascinating guide of Paris is filled with cutaways, illustrations, old photos and a handy map to help the reader grasp a lot of what we don't see about the city of light. This easy-to-carry book will give you plenty of ideas for exploring Paris cemeteries, the Catacombes and much, much more. Purchase a copy on amazon.
Guide secret des Cimetières Parisiens (2017) by Jean-Pierre Hervet. At a little more than 140 pages this slip of a book has little to offer to the serious Paris cemetery researcher — but on closer examination one can find a few interesting curiosities, particularly in the sidebars.
Guide des Curiosités Funéraires à Paris (2008) by Anne-Marie Minvielle. Subtitled "Cimetieres, Eglises et Lieux de Memoire," this is another handy little volume to stuff in your bag. Arranged by arrondissement you can either plunge right in or check out the handy little table of contents at the front of the book for a more detailed itinerary. Very nice photographs (Minvielle is a professional photographer as well as a journalist) and well-executed maps. With appendices (annexes) that include a glossary of terms, a bibliography and glory be! an index of tombs listed in the book. How cool is that?!
Le Cimetière Montparnasse (2009) by Marie-Laure Pierard. Frankly I don't care much for how this book is arranged or the map included, but it is the only contemporary guide to Montparnasse, a cemetery worth a long stroll if not a lengthy visit in its own right.
Although ostensibly arranged by division, for some odd reason the author jumps around in her discussion of the notable burials in each division. Also, the map is a poor reprint of the official cemetery map and not terribly useful at that. The index lists only the division number and not the page, which I find a bit awkward.
Le Père-Lachaise: Guide du Flaneur (2006) by France Raimbault has a nice set of itineraries as well as handy maps. Many of the photos are reprints of old postcards of Père-Lachaise. Very nice presentation of the material.
Cimetières de Paris (2010) by Fabrice de Routou and Charles-Edouard Gambier.
Promenade napoléonienne au Père-Lachaise (2017) by Jean Tardy and Charles Dolbakian. This is a series of tours through Père-Lachaise focusing on a number of figures connected in one way or another with Napoleon. From Mademoiselle Lenormand to Marshal Ney to Jacques-Louis David and many others this book makes you realize just how much Napoleonic history is buried on that hill. In addition to handy maps with the itineraries neatly laid out each chapter focuses on a specific individual who played a role in the Napoleonic history of France. Although small in size it’s more than 340 pages long with a fine bibliography.
Le cimetière du Père-Lachaise (2017) by Valverde and Hughes. This is perhaps the best guide to Père-Lachaise available today. Outstanding photographs, up-to-date, with superb maps of the cemetery, this is one book you will want to have in hand if you plan to undertake a serious exploration of Père-Lachaise. The overall format has not changed since the 2007 edition: this is basically a history of the cemetery using different eras as backdrops to identifying major figures during that period who are buried in the cemetery. One curious observation: while the page count is virtually identical yet the size of the book is significantly smaller.