Early views of Père-Lachaise

While there are several fine prints of the cemetery's early history there are few photos that predate the 20th century. Here are two fine views taken in the late 19th century from across Boulevard Menilmontant.

In the first one you can clearly see present-day divisions 1 (right) and 59 (left) separated by Avenue Thirion.


In the second, taken from roughly the same vantage point, you can clearly see the Beaujour obelisk in the background, the cemetery wall and the open ground devoid of any interments as the hill slopes down to divisions 59, 60, 61 and 62,


1822 New Monthly Magazine

["The Cemetery of Pere La Chaise," 1822 The New Monthly, pp. 155-59]

I am half disposed to admit the assertion of a lively authoress, that the French are a grave people, and absolutely determined upon contradicting the received opinion in England, that in the volatility of their character their sympathies, however easily excited, are generally evanescent; and that the claims of kindred or friendship, so far from awakening any permanent sensibility, are quickly superseded by the paramount dominion of frivolity and amusement. Let any man who is laboring under this mistaken impression pay a visit to the Cemetery of Pere La Chaise; and if he do not hate France more than falsehood, he will admit that in the precincts of this beautiful and affecting spot there is not only a more striking assemblage of tasteful decoration and appropriate monumental sculpture, but more pervading evidences of deep, lingering, heart-rending affection for the dead than could be paralleled in England or any other country of Europe. The tombs elsewhere seem to be monuments of oblivion, not remembrance – they designate spots to be avoided, not visited, unless by the idle curiosity of strangers; here they seem built up with the heart as well as with the hands; -- they are hallowed by the frequent presence of sorrowing survivors, who, by various devices of ingenious and elegant offerings, still testify their grief and their respect for the departed, and keep up by these pious visitings a sort of holy communion between the living and the dead.

Never, never shall I forget the solemn, yet sweet and soothing emotions that thrilled my bosom at the first visit to Pere La Chaise. Women were in attendance as we approached the gate, offering for sale elegant crowns, crosses, and wreaths of orange blossom, xereanthemum, amaranth, and other everlasting flowers, which the mourning relatives and friends are accustomed to suspend upon the monument, or throw down upon the grave, or entwine among the shrubs with which every enclosure is decorated.

Congratulating myself that I had no such melancholy office to perform, I passed into this vast sanctuary of the dead, and found myself in a variegated and wide-spreading garden, consisting of hill and dale, redolent with flowers, and thickly planted with luxuriant shrubs and trees, from the midst of which monumental stones, columns, obelisks, pyramids, and temples shot up in such profusion that I was undecided which path to explore first, and stood some time in silent contemplation of the whole scene, which occupies a space of from sixty to eighty acres. A lofty Gothic monument on the right first claimed my attention, and on approaching it I found that it contained the tomb in which are the ashes of Abelard and Eloiosa [D7], united at last in death, but even then denied that rest and repose to which they were strangers in their unhappy and passionate lives. Interred, after various removals, at Soissons, in the year 1120, they were transported in the year eight of the Republic from Chalons sur Saone to the Museum of French Monuments at Paris, and thence to the romantic spot which they at present occupy. We learn from the inscription, that with all his talents Abelard could not comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity, and on this account incurred the censure of contemporary hierarchs. Subsequently, however, he seems to have seen the wisdom of a more accommodating faith; and having evinced his orthodoxy by the irrefutable argument of causing three figures to be sculptured upon one stone, which is still visible, being let into the side of his tomb, he was restored to confidence and protection of the church. I have seen at Paris the dilapidated house in which he is stated to have resided; and now to be standing above the very dust which once contributed to form the fine intellect and throbbing hearts of these celebrated lovers, seemed to be an annihilation of intervening centuries, throwing the mind back to that remote period when Eliosa from the “deep solitudes and awful cells” of her convent edited those love—breathing epistles which have spread through the world the fame of her unhappy attachment.

Quitting this interesting spot, a wilderness of little enclosures presented itself, almost every one profusely planted with flowers, and overshadowed by poplar, cypress, weeping willow, and arbor vitae, interspersed among the flowering shrubs and fruit trees; for the ground, before its present appropriation had been laid out as a pleasure garden. Many of the tombs were provided with a watering-pot for the refreshment of the flowers, and the majority had a stone seat for the accommodation of those who came hither to indulge in melancholy retrospection, as they stationed themselves upon the grave in which their affections were deposited. Here and there the sufferers from filial, parental, or conjugal deprivation, were seem trimming the foliage or flowers that sprung up from the remains of their kindred flesh, and as they handled the shrubs, whose roots struck down into the very grave, one could almost image that the dead stretched forth into their leafy arms from the earth to embrace once more those whom they had so fondly encircled when alive. In many instances, however, it must be confessed that this pious duty was deputed to the keepers of the ground, who for a small stipend maintained the tombs in a perpetual greenness. Some contented themselves with hanging a funeral garland on the monuments of their friends, by the number and freshness of which tributes we were enabled to judge, in some degree, of the merits of the deceased, and of the recency with which sad bosoms and glistening eyes had occupied the spot on which then stood. Some were blooming all over with these flowery offerings, while others with a single forlorn and withered chaplet, or absolutely bare, showed that their mouldering tenants had left no friends behind; or that time had wrought his usual effect, and either brought them to the same appointed house, or “steeped their senses in forgetfulness.”

In ascending the hill extensive family vaults are seen, excavated in its side in the style of the ancients, with numerous recesses for coffins, the whole enclosed by bronze gates of exquisite taste and workmanship, through which might be seen the chairs for those who wish to shut themselves up and meditate in the sepulcher which they are permanently to occupy; while the yellow wreath upon the ground, or coffin, pointed out the latest occupant of the chamber of death. Some well-known name was perpetually presenting itself to our notice. In one place we encountered the tomb of the unfortunate Laboydere [D16], who was the first to join Napoleon when he advanced to Grenoble in 1815, and expiated his offence with his life. The spot in which the hapless Ney was deposited was shown to us, but his monument has been removed. A lofty and elegant pyramid on the height bore the name of the celebrated Massena; and as we roamed about, we trod over the remains of republicans, royalists, marshals, demagogues, liberals, ultras, and many of the victors and victims of the Revolution, whose exploits and sufferings have filled our gazettes, and been familiar in our mouths for the last twenty or thirty years.

A few steps more brought us to the summit of the hill, commanding a noble view of Paris, the innumerable white buildings of which stood out with a panoramic and lucid sharpness in the deep blue of a cloudless sky, not a single wreath of smoke dimming the clearness of the view. Nothing was seen to move – a dead silence reigned around – the whole scene resembled a bright and tranquil painting.

On the highest point of the whole cemetery, under the shade of eight lime trees planted in a square, is the tomb of Frederic Mestezart [D39], a Protestant pastor of the Church of Geneva. A French writer well observes, on the occasion of this tomb, raised in the midst of the graves of Catholics, and in the former property of one of the most cruel persecutors of Protestantism, “O the power of time, and of the revolutions which it brings in its train! A minister of Calvin reposes not far from the Charenton where the reformed religion saw its temple demolished and its preacher proscribed! He reposes in that ground where a bigoted Jesuit loved to meditate on his plans of intolerance and persecution!”

Not far from this spot is the tomb of the well-known authoress Madame Cottin [D39], and monuments have also been lately erected to the memory of Lafontaine and Moliere [both D25]. A low pyramid is the appropriate sepulcher of Volney [D41]; and at the extremity of a walk of trees, surrounded by a little garden, is the equally well adapted monument of Delille [D11], the poet of the Gardens. Mentelle [D11] and Fourcroy [D11] repose at a little distance and in the same vicinity, beneath a square tomb of white marble, decorated with a lyre, are deposited the remains of Gretry [D11], the celebrated composer, whose bust I had the day before seen in the garden of the Hermitage art Montmorency, once occupied by Rousseau. How refreshing to turn from the costly and luxurious memorials of many who had been the torments and scourges of their time, to these classic shades, where sleep the benefactors of the world, men who have enlightened it by their wisdom, animated it by their gaiety, or soothed it by their delightful harmonies!

Amid the tombs upon the heights a low enclosure, arched over at top to preserve it from the weather, but fenced at the sides with open wire-work, through which we observed that the whole interior surface was carefully overspread with moss, and strewed with fresh gathered white flowers, which also expanded their fragrance from vases of white porcelain, the whole arranged with exquisite neatness and care. There was no name or record but the following simple and pathetic inscription: “Fille Cherie – avec toi mes beaux jours sont passes! 5 Juin, 1819.” Above two years had elapsed since the erection of this tomb, yet whenever I subsequently visited it, which I sometimes did at an early hour, the wakeful and unwearied solicitude of maternal regret had preceded me; the moss was newly laid, the flowers appeared to be just plucked, the vases shone with unsullied whiteness, as if even the dew had been carefully wiped off. How keen and intense must have been that affection which could so long survive its object, and gather fresh force even from the energy of despair!

An inscription to the memory of Eleanor MacGowan, a Scotch-woman recalled to mind the touching lines of Pope – “by foreign hands, etc.” but though we might admire the characteristic nationality, we could hardly applaud the taste which had planted this grave, as well as some others of her countrymen, with thistles. English names often startled us as we walked through the alleys of tomb-stones; and it as gratifying to find that even from these, the coarse and clumsy, though established emblems of the death’s head and marrow bones had been discarded. Obtuse, indeed must be those faculties which need such repulsive bone-writing to explain to them the perishableness of humanity.

We nowhere encountered any of the miserable doggerel which defaces our graves in England, under the abused name of poetry; and, in fact, poetic inscriptions of any sort were extremely rare. Some may assign this to the want of poetical genius in the French, but it might be certainly more charitable, and possibly more just, to attribute it to the sincerity of their regrets; for I doubt whether the lacerated bosom, in the first burst of its grief, has ever any disposition to dally with the Muses. A softened heart may seek solace in such effusions, but not an agonized one. Some rhyming epitaphs were, however visible. Under the name of the well known Regnault de St. Jean d’Angely [D11] these lines were inscribed.

Francois, de son dernier soupir Il a salue la patrie; Un meme jour a vu finir Ses maux, son exil, et sa vie.

And a very handsome monument to the memory of an artist, in bronze and gold, named Ravrio [D10], informs us that he was the author also of numerous fugitive pieces, to prevent his following which into oblivion, his bust, well executed in bronze, surmounts his tomb; and the following verses give us a little insight into his character.

Un fils d’Anacreon a finis a carriere, Il est dans ce tombeau pour jamais endormi, Les enfans des beaux arts sont prives de leur frère, Les malheaureux ont perdu leur ami.”

The practice of affixing busts to tombs seems worthy of more general adoption – it identifies and individualizes the deceased and thus creates a more definable object for our sympathies. Perhaps the miniatures which we occasionally saw let into the tombstones and glazed over, attained this point more effectually, as the contrast between the bright eye and the blooming cheek above, and the fleshless skeleton below, was rendered doubly impressive. Not only is the doggerel of the English church-yard banished from Pere La Chaise, but it is undegraded by the bad spelling and ungrammatical construction which with us are so apt to awaken ludicrous ideas, where none but solemn impressions should be felt. The order by which all lapidary inscriptions must be submitted to previous inspection, though savouring somewhat of arbitrary regulation, is perhaps necessary in the present excited state of political feeling, and is doubtless the main cause of the general propriety and decorum by which they are distinguished. The whole management of the place appears to be admirably conducted – decency and good order universally prevailed – not a stone scribbled over. It was impossible to avoid drawing painful comparisons between the state of the plainest tombs here, and the most elaborate in Westminster Abbey, defaced and desecrated as many of the latter are by the empty-headed puppies of the adjoining school, and the brutal violations of an uncivilized rabble. This sacred respect for the works of art is not peculiar to the Cemetery of Pere La Chaise, nor solely due to the vigilance of the police, for in the innumerable statues and sculptures with which Paris and its neighborhood abound many scattered about in solitary walks and gardens at the mercy of the public, I have never observed the smallest mutilation, nor nay indecorous scribbling. The lowest Frenchman has been familiarized with works of art until he has learnt to take a pride in them, and to this extent at least has verified the old adage, that such a feeling “emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.”

As I stood upon the hill, I saw a funeral procession slowly winding amid the trees and avenues below. Its distant effect was impressive, but, as it approached, it appeared to be strikingly deficient in that well-appointed and consistent solemnity by which the same ceremony is uniformly distinguished in England. The hearse was dirty and shabby, the mourning coaches as bad, the horses and harness worse; the coachmen in their rusty coats and cocked hats seemed to be a compound of paupers and old clothesmen; the dress of the priests had an appearance at once mean and ludicrous; the coffin was an unpainted deal box; the grave was hardly four feet deep, and the whole service was performed in a careless and unimpressive manner. Yet this was a funeral of a substantial tradesman, followed by a respectable train of mourners. Here was all the external observance, perhaps, that reason requires; but where our associations have been made conversant with a more scrupulous and dignified treatment, it is difficult to reconcile ourselves to such a slovenly mode of interment, although it may be the established system of the country. All the funerals here are in the hands of a company, who, for the privilege of burying the rich at fixed prices, contract to inhume all the poor for nothing. It is hardly to be supposed, that in such a multiplicity of tomb there are not some offensive to good taste. Many are gaudy and fantastical, dressed up with paltry figures of the Virgin and Child, and those tin and tinsel decorations which the rich in faith and poor pocket are apt to set up in Roman Catholic countries – but the generality are of a much nobler order, and I defy any candid traveler to spend a morning in the Cemetery of Pere La Chaise without feeling a higher respect for the French character, and forming a more pleasing estimate of human nature in general.

Père-Lachaise and la petit ceinture

What's curious about this map from an old Baedeker guide to Paris (1904) is right there in the upper left-hand corner: those dotted lines that outline the tunnel for the long-gone Chemin de fer de Ceinture, the small underground railway that once linked now-defunct intra-city train stations and served as a means of resupplying the old fortifications.

My question is: Was the tunnel the reason why D83 was never used for burials but only as a maintenance facility?

Thanks to Marie B. we have the answer: the tunnel collapsed in 1874 destroying all the graves in that division and the space was never reused.


Anyway, the map shows the tunnel running between the Menilmontant and Charonne passenger stations. While the stations are long gone and the tunnel no longer is used parts of it still exists, such as the old Charonne station converted into a cafe:

Charonne_convertie en café %22La Flèche d'Or.jpeg

. . . or near the Parc Montsouris:


Postcard from Paris: Memorial to the Soldiers who died in the Siege of Paris

Right off of Avenue Circulaire in division 64 is the Memorial to the Soldiers Who Died During the Siege of Paris, 1870–1871. Designed by A. Rivière, this monument (c. 1873) consists of four life-size statues:

  • l’Artilleur/Artilleryman, by J. B. C. E. Power;
  • Soldat de la ligne/Soldier of the Line, by Louis Schrœder;
  • Le Garde mobile/Mobile Guard, by Camille Lefèvre;
  • Fusilier marin/Marine, also by Louis Schrœder. 

First image from c. 1900:


and from 2006:


Postcard from Paris: Pradier

Located along the Street: Chemin Molière is the tomb of Jacques “James” Pradier (1794–1852). Pradier was a French sculptor and among his well-known public works he created the bust of his father-in-law Jean-Pierre d’Arcet (D34).  This particular monument will require some time to fully appreciate all its artistic elements including a bust of Pradier and reliefs of several of Pradier’s most notable works by former students: 

  • Phryne, by Antoine Étex;
  • Psyche, by Claude-Eugène Guillaume; 
  • Niobide, by Jacques-Léonard Maillet; 
  • Sappho, by Pierre-Charles Simart;
  •  Cyparisse, by Hippolyte Ferrat; 
  • Nyssia, by Augustin Courtet; 
  • La Poésie légère, by François-Félix Roubaud; 
  • Pelion or Phydias, by François-Clément Moreau.

Bust of Pradier is by former student Eugene-Louis Lequesne. The tomb's architect was Antoine-Martin Garnaud. Early 20th century:


and c. 2011:

 photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin, wikimedia

photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin, wikimedia

1825 The Mirror


[ “The Cemetery of Père La Chaise” in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, No. CXXII, Saturday, January 8, 1825, No. 122, London: J. Limbird, pp. 17-19.]

The cemetery of Père la Chaise, of which the above engraving presents a view, at once correct and striking, is one of the most interesting places that a person going to France can visit. Indeed, no thing can be more striking and affecting to the imagination. It is only sufficient to go there, to be convinced how true the affection which the mothers, sons, and sisters of France, have for each other. How simple, and yet how tender, the inscriptions upon the tombs! There the sister goes to renew the tender recollection of her sister, and a son to place a garland over the grave of his mother. With the English, the dead are scarcely ever visited, and seldom remembered; but it is not so with the French, who do not think it inconsistent to mix the kindest feelings to their relations with the sociability of a larger circle.

Some persons are of opinion that church-yards are the only proper place for Christian burial; on the contrary, the origin of their use in England for that purpose is not of earlier date than the year 750; and agreeably to the old Roman Law of the Twelve Tables, the place of inhumation was ordered to be not within the city, but without its walls. Certainly ground destined for sepulture should, according to the law of the church, be duly consecrated; and when this is the case, it is perfectly immaterial whether it is attached to a church or separated from it; indeed, many of the church-yards in London are at a distance from a church, and it would, perhaps, be well if they were all out of the metropolis, since, as Lord Stowell well observed in one of his learned and elaborate decisions, "They cannot be made commensurate to the demands of a large and increasing population : the period of decay and dissolution does not arrive fast enough, in the accustomed mode of depositing bodies in the earth, to evacuate the ground for the use of the succeeding claimants."

Indeed, most of these cemeteries are narrow, close, filthy, and almost indecent; and though new crypts have been formed in building the new churches, yet for the most part no monuments can be raised in the burial grounds, nor even be affixed to the walls of the sacred edifices.

Not so the cemetery of Père la Chaise, a chosen spot just without the walls of Paris, where the ashes of Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic, rich and poor, repose in charitable vicinity. The circumference of the burial ground is upwards of two miles. The ground is laid out with taste and elegance, diversified in position, beautified with shrubs and flowers, and appropriately adorned with monuments, some interesting from their historical recollections, some touching from the simplicity and tenderness of their inscriptions; but all neat, decent, and appropriate to the solemnity of the scene.

 The number of tombs has greatly in creased during the last few years, and fashion and ostentation which play so many freaks on the busy stage of life, intrude their follies and their fripperies even into this quiet and peaceful sanctuary; and the modest stone with its emblematic cross, over which the cypress mourned and the willow fondly drooped, has given place to the obelisk, the pyramid, and the temple.

The tombs and graves in the cemetery are kept in the highest order and repair, and almost all of them are planted with shrubs and fragrant flowers, mingled with the mournful cypress and yew: the acacia tree is also planted in great abundance, and the wild vine spreads its broad leaves and graceful clusters over many of the monuments.

Many of the tombs are interesting on account of the celebrity of the persons they commemorate, and others' for the beauty and simplicity of their inscriptions. Of the former class, the tomb of the poet Delille [D11], which is situated in the higher part of the ground under the shade of a bower of linden trees, is one of the most interesting. Those of Moliere, La Fontaine [both D25], Eloisa, and Abelard [D07], Madame Cotton [sic: Cottin, D39], Marshals Massena [D28] and Ney [D29], with many others of characters highly distinguished, as well worthy of notice.

As a specimen of the affecting brevity and pathetic simplicity of the inscriptions on tombs in this burial ground we may instance the following. The first is on the monument of a man who died in the prime of life.

A la memoire de mon meilleur ami.
C’ etoit mon frere.

On another:

Ci git P. N., son epouse perd en lui le plus tendre de ses amis, et ses enfans un modele de vertu.

A little crown of artificial orange blossoms, half blown, was in a glass case at the head of the tablet.

And upon a tomb raised by the parents to the memory of a child.

Ci git notre fils cheri.

The following is a touching epitaph on a young girl:—

A sa famille
Elle apporta le bonheur;
II s'enfuit avec elle!

The following are also among the inscriptions in this celebrated spot:

Le Malheur, l’Amour,
La Reconnoissance,
Au modele de toutes les vertus,
A son excellente Zephirine.


A mon Theodore.


Repose en paix, ma bien aimee. Celeste! demain nous reviendrons te voir.


Tu reposes mon fils, et ta mere
Est dans la douleur!


A notre bon Père
Des fils reconnoissants.


A peine cinq printemps vecut notre Pauline,
C’etoit le gage heureux de l'hymen le plus doux,
Chacun aimoit son air et sa grace enfantine—
Ah! de notre bonheur le destin fut jaloux!

Many garlands of fresh and sweet flowers are hung upon the graves, and every thing marks the existence of tender remembrance and regret; it appears as if in this place alone the dead are never forgotten.

Struck with the contrast which our city church-yards present to the burial-ground of the Père la Chaise, some individuals have projected a scheme for a receptacle of the dead on a large scale in the vicinity of London. They propose to give it the name of the Necropolis, or "City of the Dead;" and mean that it shall be laid out in a style, which for solemnity, taste, and magnificence, may surpass any thing yet undertaken. To what expense do not our opulent individuals often go to erect in their demesnes some monumental record of a friend, perhaps even of a faithful dog, on the banks of a limpid rivulet, near a grotto overhung with weeping willows or shadowed by the mournful cypress! And would they not much rather adorn a spot of consecrated ground, which might always be kept neat and clean, well watched and guarded against violent intrusion, and resorted to by those only whose sentiments were in unison with the melancholy sanctity of the place?—The taste for gardening and for every thing rural is proverbially prevalent among the English; and those who may chance to visit a country church-yard “under the shade of melancholy boughs," looking forth upon the richness and beauty of an extensive landscape, can scarcely fail to breathe a wish that they themselves may repose hereafter amid such still and tranquil scenery.

We cannot, perhaps, better close this article than with the following poem on the cemetery of Père la Chaise, by the late Mr. David Carey, who died in the vigour of age and talent:

When, like-the fleeting forms that fled
       ln youth a fair morning from the view,
We sink on death's ungenial bed,
       And bid to life and lore adieu.

If aught that once with influence kind
       Could chase the mists of sorrow's gloom.
Can please the disembodied mind.
       And shed a pleasure o'er the tomb.

Tis when with sympathizing care
       Affection rears the votive bower,
And weeping Pity's daughters fair
       Trim the lone monumental flower.

As in the precincts of La Chaise,
      The hands of beauty nurse the wreath
That spreads the bloom of vernal days
      O'er the cold sanctuary of death.

If aught of consolation sweet
       Can mingle with the cup of woe,
When, far from each belovd retreat,
       Fate lays the hapless stranger low;

'Tis that his ashes may repose
       In peace, where those we love are laid,
Where death has never paled the rose,
       And tears of piety are shed.

How sweet to him, when passion's past,
       Whose tows were paid at beauty's shrine,
To sleep where Abelard at last,
      And his lov'd Heloise entwined.

How sweet to those whose generous breast
       Was form’d in nature's school to feel,
In the Elysium of the blest.
       To sleep with virtue and Delille!

And such thy scene of lasting sleep.
       So tranquil and so hallow'd now,
La Chaise ! where once in vengeance deep     
       Dark persecution breath'd his vow.

Where superstition banish'd far
       Sweet love and mercy from the ground,
Benignant pity's milder star      
       A holier feeling spreads around.

Here oft o'er lost affections' bier,
       The mother and the lover bend,
To dress with many a flower and tear
     The cherish’d child, the parted friend

Here, side by side, in flowery graves,
       The Russian and the Spaniard lie,
And peace immortal olive waves
       O'er warring nations enmity.

Then mourn not, stranger, though thy doom
       Be sorrow's lot, and brief thy days—
If joy can penetrate the tomb,
       Thou'It find it here—in Père la Chaise!

Postcard from Paris: Guët

Along the small chemin des Chevres in division 19 you'll find several striking sculptures and this incredible art nouveau style semi-enclosed chapel tomb. Designed by Georges Guët it has a pair of lovely art nouveay-style caryatids at the front sides with a lovely relief of le Silence both by Max Braemer; inside the roof and back wall are ceramics by Gentil and Bourdet. The first image was taken c. 1900:

and c. 2017


1817 a Visit to Père la Chaise by W. D. Fellowes

[Part of an ongoing series reproducing articles that were written about Père-Lachaise during its early years, the following is from A Visit to the Monastery of La Trappe, in 1817, with Notes Taken during A tour through Le Perche, Normandy, Bretagne, Poitou, Anjou, Le Bocage, Touraine, Orleanois, and the Environs of Paris, by W. D. Fellowes, London: William Stockdale, 1817, pp. 153-64. Numbers preceded by the letter D refer to the division where you can find the tomb.]

PRIOR to the revolution, the French, like most other European nations, were in the practice of depositing their dead in churches and cemeteries within the most populous towns, in compliance with those precepts of evangelical doctrine which recommend us unceasingly to reflect on death; and hence originated a custom which cannot but be attended with most pernicious consequences to health, when we reflect that the decomposition of human bodies is productive of putrid exhalations, and consequently pregnant with the causes of contagious disorders. It is indeed surprising that some regulations have not hitherto been adopted in England regarding the interment of the dead, from the example of other countries.

In the year 1795, a decree was passed by the National Assembly, to prevent burying in churches, or in church-yards, within the city of Paris. Since which period, there have been three places selected in its immediate neighbourhood for that purpose - Montmartre, called" Le Champ du Repos" - Vaugirard, and Pere La Chaise.

Quitting the Boulevards, at the extremity of the Boulevards Neufs, eastward of the city, and passing through the Barrière d’Aulnay, I arrived at the Pere La Chaise. At the entrance, through large folding gates, is a spacious court-yard, having at one angle the dwelling of the Concierge, or Keeper. The enclosure contains one hundred and twenty acres, on a gently rising ground, in the centre of which stands the ancient mansion constructed by Louis XIV. for his confessor, Père la Chaise, the celebrated Jesuit, who, with Madame de Maintenon, governed France. Rising above the thousands of tombs which surround it, it displays itself a wrecked and mouldering monument of ancient splendour, and the mutability of human affairs! This spot became afterwards a place of public promenade and great resort, from the beauty of its position overlooking all Paris; and though so often the scene of festivity and pleasure, now presents to the eye of the beholder a mournfully interesting sight of tombs and sarcophagi, intermixed with various fruit trees, cypress groves, the choicest flowers, and rarest shrubs.

From the rising ground, above the building of Pere La Chaise, a most delightful view displays itself. The City of Paris appears to stand in the centre of a vast amphitheatre. The heights of Belleville, Montmartre, and Ménilmontant, in the west. To the east, the beautiful plain of Saint-Mande, Montreuil, and Vincennes, with the lofty towers of its fortress. - The fertile banks of the river Marne, are on the North, and in the South, the horizon encircles Bicetre and Meudon. 

The various tombs are placed without order or regularity: they are mostly enclosed with trellis work of wood, sometimes by iron railing; and consist of a small marble column, a pyramid, a sarcophagus, or a single slab, just as may have suited the fancy or the taste of the friends of the departed. Some surrounded with cypress, some with roses, myrtles, and the choicest exotics: others with evergreens, and not unfrequently a single weeping willow, with the addition of a rose tree! 

This intermixture of the sweetest scented flowers and fruit trees, in a burying ground, among the finest pieces of sculptured marble, with evergreens growing over them, in the form of arbours, and furnished with seats, cannot fail to produce in the mind of the person who views it for the first time, peculiar and uncommon feelings of domestic melancholy, mingled with pleasing tenderness.

Who could be otherwise than powerfully affected, as I was, by the first objects that presented themselves to me on entering the place? -- A mother and her two sons, kneeling in pious devotion at the foot of the husband's and the father's grave! At a short distance, a female of elegant form, watering and dressing the earth around some plants at her lover's tomb! - not a day, and seldom an hour, passes, but some one is seen either weeping over the remains of a departed relative, or watching with pious solicitude the flowers that spring up around it.

Among the many interesting objects that presented themselves at my first visit, was the tomb of Abelard and Helolse [D07], which had not long since been removed from the convent of the Augustins, where I had seen it in 1815.

At a little distance, to the left of the former, was the burial place of Labedoyere [D16]. The fate of this brave and unfortunate officer is well known; his youth, and misled zeal, have procured him a sympathy which his fellow sufferer Marshal Ney [D29] did not find, and did not merit.
In the centre of a square plot of ground enclosed with lattice work, is erected a wooden cross, painted black. Neither marble, nor stone, nor letters, indicate his name. Two pots of roses, and a tuft of violets, alone marked the spot, which is carefully weeded. There is something more affecting in all this simplicity, something, in my mind, that goes more directly home to the heart, than in the most splendid monument or the most studied eulogium. As we came suddenly up we saw two females clad in deep mourning, weeping over it; at each arm of the cross was suspended a garland of flowers; we were about to retire again immediately, from the fear of disturbing their melancholy devotions, when the concierge, with a brutality indescribable, rushed forward, and removing the garlands, threw them among the shrubs at a considerable distance. The friend who accompanied me, after searching, recovered one of the garlands, and with more gallantry perhaps than policy, immediately replaced it, and reproaching the keeper with his unmanly conduct, vowed vengeance if he dared to interrupt the ladies again, when bowing to them we retired.

As we were about to quit the place some time after, we were arrested by two gendarmes, and it was not till after a detention of some hours, and a long discussion between the police officers who had been summoned to attend, and being threatened to be sent to the Conciergerie prison, that we were allowed to depart.

The following words were engraved on a plain marble slab that covered the remains of Marshal Ney.

ci git
Le Marechal Ney
duc d’Echlingen
Prince de Moscowa
décédé le 7, Decembre, 18

The grave of the Marshal, as well as that of Labedoyere, when I again visited the spot, had been stripped of every thing, and the railing around them removed so as to prevent any one from discovering the place of their interment.

The monument of Madame Cottin [D39], the author of Elizabeth and of Mathilde, is, like her writings, simple and affecting! -- Surrounded by a trellis work in the form of an arbour, planted with rose trees, stands a pillar of the whitest marble, highly polished, inclining forwards, and engraven with

Marie-Sophie Risteau
Veuve de J. M. Cottin
Décédé le 25 Aout.

Near this, is the tomb of the esteemed and celebrated poet Delille [D11], the " Songster of the Gardens," as the French term him. The monument is enclosed in a small garden, planted with the choicest flowers and shrubs: it is of white marble, of large dimensions, and approached by an allée verte. The door leading to the vault is of brass, with emblematical figures in relief: above the entrance is inscribed in letters of gold,


The linden tree, intermixed with various evergreens, form an interesting and beautiful bouquet around it.

Beyond this, to the right, are the tombs of Gretry the composer [D13], Fourcroy the great chemist [D11], Fontenelle [D27?], Boileau, Racine, and of Mademoiselle Raucourt [D20], the celebrated actress, to whom the bigotry of the clergy refused burial in consecrated ground in 1815! a circumstance which gave rise to much clamour and dissatisfaction. It is surprising, that after such events as have been experienced in France, the folly of denying the right of consecrated ground to a comedian should have been persevered in, after the restoration of Louis XVllI!

Close to the tomb of Mad. Rancourt [Raucourt D20], is one, which for its affecting simplicity and modesty, struck me very forcibly: in a little garden of roses and lilies, and amidst some tufts of mignonette which appeared to have been newly watered, stood a plain marble column, with the following words, as represented in the annexed sketch - an acacia shaded it from the sun's rays. [The grave of the painter Isabei, with the inscription: “Ici repose Mon meilleur ami. C’etait mon frère. Octobre 1813. Isabei.” In D20.]

In 1814, when the Allies approached Paris, this height, like the others commanding the capital, was fortified, and occupied by the students of the Polytechnical School, who defended it with great gallantry. The walls were perforated with holes for the musketry: the marks are still visible where they have been since filled up. On the 30th of March, 1814, this position was vigorously attacked, with great slaughter on both sides: the assailants and the assailed fell in heaps, and it was not until the chief part of a Prussian corps, (that afterwards carried it by assault) had been annihilated, that the brave youths gave way.

The tomb of my early friend and brother officer, the brave and unfortunate Captain Wright, who was murdered in the Temple, is in the cemetery of Vaugirard. I had searched for it in vain at Pere la Chaise, where it was reported he had been buried. It has on it the following inscription written to his memory by his companion in arms, and in imprisonment, the gallant Sir Sidney Smith:-

Here Lies Inhumed
BY BIRTH AN Englishman,
Distinguished both among his own Countrymen and Foreigners
For skill and courage
To whom,
Of those things which lead to the summit of glory,
Nothing was wanting but opportunity.
His ancestors, whose virtues he inherited,
He honoured by his deeds.
Quick in apprehending his orders,
Active and bold in the execution of them.
In success modest,
In adverse circumstances firm,
In doubtful enterprises, wise and prudent.
Awhile successful in his career,
At length assailed by adverse winds, and on an hostile shore,
He was captured;
And being soon after brought to Paris,
Was confined in the prison called the Temple,
Infamous for midnight murders,
And placed in the most rigid custody:
But in bonds,
And suffering severities still more oppressive,
His fortitude of mind and fidelity to his country
Remained unshaken.
A short time after,
He was found in the morning with his throat cut,
And dead in his bed.
He died the 28th October, 1805, aged 36.
To be lamented by his Country,
Avenged by his God!

[Wright's grave has long been lost to time.]

1825 A visit to Père la Chaise by N. H. Carter

[Part of an ongoing series reproducing articles that were written about Père-Lachaise during its early years, the following is from Letters from Europe, vol. 1, by American traveler N. H. Carter, New York: Carvill, 1827, pp. 391-98. In the early part of the article Carter discusses the funeral procession and burial at Pére Lachaise of General Maximillien Foy. I have included several prints of the Foy funeral procession, his first monument and subsequent larger mausoleum as well as a contemporary photo. Numbers preceded by the letter D refer to the division where you can find the tomb.]

We found the city of fashion, gaiety, and dissipation, dissolved in tears and clad in the habiliments of woe - a spectacle, which probably is not witnessed once in half a century. The death of General Foy, distinguished as a soldier and a statesman, esteemed for his talents, but still more for his integrity, his public and private virtues, created a sensation in the French metropolis, which I had supposed nothing short of a recurrence of the scenes of the Revolution, or another visit from the allied armies could produce. His funeral obsequies were attended on the day after our arrival. All classes of an enthusiastic people, from the nobility down to the humbler walks of life, appeared to participate in the tribute of respect to the remains of a man, who was universally known and as universally beloved. Every street through which the procession was to pass, in its progress from the church of Notre Dame, in which the funeral rites were solemnized, to the cemetery of Pere La Chaise, where the General was buried, a distance of two or three miles, was thronged with spectators, of both sexes, in carriages and on foot, who remained all day in the rain, to witness the military parade and pompous ceremony.

Our little party took a fiacre, (answering very nearly to a hackney coach in London or New York,) and joined the multitude, whose different equipages, costumes, customs, and manners, afforded much more interest, than the mere interment of a great man, who was comparatively unknown to us, and whose death could therefore occasion nothing more than a general sympathy for another instance of the common lot. A remarkable degree of order and decorum prevailed throughout the immense crowd, whose feelings seemed hallowed by the solemn occasion. There were no riots - no quarrels for places - none of that noisy and boisterous confusion, observable among the populace of England, and sometimes amidst large collections of people in our own country. While the procession was passing, not a voice was heard above a whisper, in the innumerable concourse, and if there chanced to be the least movement or bustle, a hiss soon checked the breach of decorum. The only confusion arose from the struggles of a company of young men, belonging to one of the public institutions, who were ambitious of carrying the corpse of General Foy, and were so enthusiastic, as to resist the arrangements for the ceremony, and to press their claims to the honour, till the hearse had arrived at the very gates of the cemetery. Every few minutes, they would rush up to the coffin, whence they were driven back by the military escort, but without any act of violence.


The whole day, from 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, was occupied in the solemnity. We rode to Pere La Chaise at an early hour, and there waited till dark, expecting every moment the approach of the procession. Just in the dusk of evening, the flambeaux were seen to glare along the avenues, and upon the multitude of faces thronging the sides of the way. A long array of the military, carriages, and citizens on foot followed the nodding plumes of the hearse, occupying nearly half an hour in passing the gates of the burying-ground. It was impossible for us to make our way through the crowd, and approach near enough to witness the ceremony at the grave. Gleams of the funeral torches were alone distinguishable. The interment was not completed till 7 or 8 o'clock.

 c. 1828

c. 1828

A temporary monument was erected over the grave, and hung with garlands of flowers in a few days after the burial; and the sum of eight or nine hundred thousand francs has since been raised by subscription, to defray the expense of a public mausoleum to the memory of the General, and to provide for his family. La Fitte, a rich banker, set the example of liberality by subscribing 50,000 francs, or 10,0OO dollars. The day after the funeral, portraits, prints, and biographical sketches of General Foy, as well as the elegiac effusions of the Gallic Muse, were for sale at all the shops in Paris. The papers were filled with eulogiums; pocket-handkerchiefs were struck off, bearing likenesses of the deceased; and in short, his name met you at every turn in the streets. He was of the liberal, or rather moderate party in politics, agreeing in sentiment with General La Fayette, of whom he was a personal friend. His death has produced a strong sensation in the public mind, not only at Paris, but throughout France, giving strength to the republican cause, in the guise of honours to his memory.

 c. 1841

c. 1841

 photo from Wikimedia 

photo from Wikimedia 

Our casual attendance at the interment of General Foy, and a subsequent visit on a day more favourable for observation, afforded us a full opportunity of examining the cemetery of Pere La Chaise, which is the great repository of the dead at Paris, and reflects infinite credit upon the city, as well as upon the character of the French people. In all respects it very far surpasses any thing of the kind I have ever seen, and the design strongly recommends itself to the imitation of all great cities. Were it possible for the inhabitants of New-York, en masse, to pay a single visit to this cemetery, I am persuaded they would at once surrender every lingering prejudice, and be unanimously in favour of adopting, a similar plan; for besides possessing all the conveniences of sepulture, on very moderate terms, a burying-ground, which in narrow enclosures and amidst a crowded population is generally a repulsive object, has here become a great monument of national taste and national feeling, inviting the stranger, as well as the citizen who is attracted by more sacred ties, to resort frequently to its rural; retired, and consecrated walks, where the body is refreshed by a pure air, the mind meets with themes for serious meditation, and the heart cannot fail to be improved.

Pere La Chaise is in the eastern suburbs of Paris, situated upon the declivity of Mont Louis, about three miles from the centre of the city. Its appellation is derived from a Jesuit of the same name, who was confessor lo Louis XIV. and at one time presided over the ecclesiastical affairs of France. As a recompense for his arduous services, his sovereign gave him this beautiful eminence, and built him a chateau near its summit, which was once the seat of the intrigues of his powerful order. Its site is at present occupied by a large and handsome chapel, approached by a lofty flight of steps, lighted at top by a dome, and surmounted by a cross, forming a conspicuous object at a distance. The edifice has recently been erected, and is destitute of any ornaments, or interesting associations, other than those that have been named.

The cemetery itself was commenced in 1804, under the auspice of Napoleon, and the superintendence of M. Brongniart. Its location is charming, commanding a full view of Paris and its romantic environs. The enclosure comprises an area of about seventy acres, on a surface so broken and diversified, as to embrace a great variety of natural scenery-rocks, hills, and deep vales. In many places the acclivity is so steep, as to render terraces and flights of steps necessary. The whole is encircled by a substantial and handsome fence. In front, there is a semi-circular recess, with lofty portals conducting to the principal avenues, which are wide gravel walks, and extend by the chapel to the extremity of the grounds. The gate is finished in a style of architecture, and with ornaments suited to the place, bearing over the top a Latin inscription of the following passage from the book of Job: -- “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall rise from the earth in the latter day.” On the right, are inscribed the words of the Evangelist -- "For he that believeth in me, though he were dead, shall live” -- and on the left of the gate is another inscription equally appropriate - “Their hope is full of immortality."

Such is the entrance to this great receptacle of the dead: and surely nothing can be more chaste in design, or more consonant with the spirit of the christian religion. Here are no altars erected “to the unknown God" - no evidences of those atheistical or deistical notions, which French philosophers have been accused of entertaining. The area of the cemetery is beautifully shaded with cypress and other evergreens, amidst the lively verdure of which the white marble monuments and tomb-stones, in every possible form, and wrought with much elegance, produce the finest and most picturesque effect. In some cases a solitary shrub hangs its sombre tresses over a grave; while in others, the monumental marble is completely embowered by the green branches. Every stone, every plant, every turf is adjusted with perfect taste. But the most striking and interesting features in the cemetery are the little marks of remembrance, feeling, and affection which the French manifest for their departed friends. Every variety of ornament has been devised to decorate the tombs. Most of them are enclosed by a neat railing. Some times miniature temples have been erected at the heads of the graves, and at others, bouquets of flowers are placed under glass covers, like those used for the ornaments of mantel-pieces. A profusion of garlands strew the consecrated sod, and are entwined among the cypress.

So vivid is the image produced by a multiplicity of these little decoration, composed perhaps of the pledges of mutual affection in life, as to seem almost to form a medium of communication between the living and the dead. Not a single grave, however humble it may be, bears the marks of dilapidation or neglect; and what will appear still more remarkable both in the United States and Great-Britain, all these fragile ornaments are daily exposed to crowd11 of people, high and low, old and young, without being in the slightest degree molested. In a word, this cemetery furnishes throughout, the most striking monument of a refined and delicate nation, that has ever fallen within the sphere of my observation. Something no doubt is to be ascribed to the influence of a popular and splendid faith, which enjoins it upon the living to visit the tombs of the dead at stated periods, and which sanctifies the humblest offerings, in the estimation of the multitude. On All-Souls day, immense crowds perform a solemn pilgrimage to Mont Louis, bearing garlands and decorations of every description, to be strewed upon the graves of their departed relatives, recollections of whom are annually revived, and sacred oblations poured forth to their manes.

 [In a footnote, Carter adds: In November, 1826, I again visited Pere La Chaise, to witness the rites of the Fete des Morts, in company with the author of the Pioneers and his family. [James Fenimore Cooper.] We saw along the road many pilgrims, bound to Mount Louis, and bearing garlands for the graves of their departed friends. The cemetery was filled with a crowd of both sexes, who had come to make their annual offerings. And renew their pledges of affection. Nearly all the inhabitants of the faubourgs adjacent to Pere La Chaise are employed in the manufacture of sepulchral monuments, and of little ornaments for the tombs. Since my last visit, Talma [D12], who I left treading the stage in the fullness of his dramatic fame, had made his final exit, in a style strictly tragic, amidst the years and the plaudits of his enthusiastic countrymen, adding another distinguished shade to the great congregation of the dead. A gust of wind and rain drove us from the cemetery, before we had time to pay a tribute to his grave.]

As Pere La Chaise is decidedly one of the most interesting objects we have met in our travels, I trust my readers will pardon me for subjoining a few additional particulars, especially as New-York and other places may hereafter think proper to adopt something of the same kind. Albany has already a burying-ground similar in design, though far inferior in artificial embellishments. In our country, where beautiful forest trees and shrubbery of all descriptions are so abundant, it is the easiest thing in nature to convert the church-yard of the humblest village into an attractive object, without any expense. Every person of taste and of feeling would prefer, that his grave should be shaded by a cypress or a willow, planted by the hand of affection, rather than decorated with the proudest marble that wealth and art could erect. But the two ornaments may be united, as they have been at Mont Louis; and although the ashes of the dead may regard none of these things, which arc of little moment in comparison with the other concerns of the grave, yet reason does not restrain us from extending our cares to the unconscious dust:

"E'en from the tomb the voice of nature cries,
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires."

The income arising from the settled price of interments in Pere La Chaise has been amply sufficient to defray the whole expenses of the cemetery, without imposing any public tax upon the city. There are three kinds of graves: First, those denominated fosses commune, in which the poor are gratuitously buried in coffins placed near each other. The trenches are four and a half feet deep, and are opened once in five years, which is a sufficient time for the body to be decomposed. Secondly, temporary graves, which are held for the term of ten years, on the payment of 50 francs. By paying 200 franks more, before the expiration of the time, the tenure may be rendered perpetual; otherwise, they must be given up, though monuments may have been erected. Thirdly, permanent graves, which are purchased at 250 francs the metre, and are secure from disturbance. About 100,000 persons have been buried here since the 21st of May, 1804, on which day the first funeral took place. There are two or three other cemeteries upon the same plan, in the suburbs of Paris; but they are small in comparison with this. The catacombs or subterranean repositories of the dead, extending for miles under the city, and running even beneath the bed of the Seine, are now undergoing repairs to prevent the roof from falling, and cannot on that account be visited.

This sketch of the abodes of the dead, which to some of my readers may be less interesting than the dwellings of the living, has already been protracted to such length, as to leave me little space to speak of some of the more remarkable monuments. The most conspicuous, as well as the most attractive of these, is the lofty tomb in memory of Abelard and Heloise [D07], the two unfortunate lovers who have been immortalized by the beautiful poem of Pope. It is in the form of a Gothic Chapel, formed out of the ruins of the Abbey of Paraclete, over which Heloise presided, and where she died in the 12th century. The mausoleum is 14 feet in length, 11 in breadth, and 24 in height, surmounted by four pinnacles at the corners, and one in the centre, rising 12 feet above the roof. Ten arches rest upon fourteen beautiful columns, six feet in height. This chapel contains the tomb built for Abelard at the Priory of St. Marcel, near Chalons, where he died. He is represented in a recumbent posture, with the statue of Heloise by his side. There is no doubt, that the real dust of the two lovers, after being removed from place to place, alternately united and divided, is at last here commingled. The monument is very complex, and loaded with a profusion of ornaments, with. a number of historical inscriptions, and an epitaph in Latin from the pen of Marmontel. One of our native artists, now prosecuting his professional pursuits at Paris, has made a very accurate sketch of the tomb, a print of which may perhaps hereafter be seen in the shops of Broadway.

Among the numerous other tombs of distinguished persons, chiefly grouped together in what has heen denominated the classical department of the cemetery, are those of the poets Moliere [D25], La Fontaine [D25], Delille [D11], and Chenier [D08]; St. Pierre [D11], author of the Studies of Nature, and of Paul and Virginia; Hauy [D60], the mineralogist; Fourcroy [D11], the chemist; Delambre [D11], an eminent astronomer ; Sonini [D04], the naturalist and friend of Buffon; Madame Blanchard [D13], the celebrated aeronaut and a hundred others too numerous to be mentioned. Delille's grave is surrounded by a beautiful little garden, and the marble in memory of La Fontaine is ornamented with the images of some of theanimals, that formed the dramatis personae of his Fables. One of the most interesting monuments is a stately mausoleum of black marble, erected in 1823, to commemorate the fame and philanthropy of the Abbe Sicard [D39], who signalized himself by his successful efforts for the instruction of the deaf and dumb. Near the top of the column six hands are portrayed in different positions, so as to spell his name, according to the signs manual adopted in his system of education.

In another part of the cemetery, along the brow of the eminence, are the tombs of many of the celebrated Marshals of France; Massena [D28], Davoust [D28], Lefebvre [D28], Decres [D39], Perignon [D24], Beauharnais, Ney [D29], and others. Many of them have lofty columns of marble, sculptured with emblematic representations of their achievements. Marshal Ney, who was shot by a file of his own soldiers in the garden of the Luxembourg, giving to them himself directions to fire, once had a splendid monument, which has been barbarously demolished since the restoration, and he now sleeps without even the record of his name. His grave is enclosed by an iron railing, and four beautiful cypresses raise their little pyramids of verdure at the corners.

On the declivity below the Chapel, and amidst the thickest copses of evergreen, stands a charming little cottage or bower, woven of reeds and thatched with turf. It is just large enough for a chair and small table, which still remain, though the door is locked, and the tenant has gone, I believe' to another world. Its history, as derived from the old man who conducted us through Pere La Chaise, is so romantic that I was not very anxious to inquire into its authenticity. As the story runs, another Abelard in enthusiastic, though not criminal love, was strongly attached to an accomplished lady, who suddenly died, and was here buried. Crossed and crazed by a hopeless passion, he erected this little rustic shrine over her grave, where be used to pass whole days in writing letters to the departed spirit of his Heloise, leaving them upon the table, and fancying that she came each night to peruse the messages of his unchanging affection.

Towards the northern side of the cemetery, and on the most elevated point of Mont Louis, is a section of the enclosure devoted chiefly to the interment of foreigners. In this silent assemblage of the dead, may be found representatives from every nation on the globe, who died in Paris and here rest side by side. The graves of the English, Scotch, and Irish, are the most numerous; and next to these, Spaniards, Germans, and Italians. Too large a group of our own countrymen add to the number and variety of the mixed congregation. A beautiful marble pyramid attracted us to the spot, where sleep the remains of Adam Seybert [D43], formerly of Philadelphia, a member of Congress, and author of a valuable work on the statistics of the United States. He died at Paris in May, 1825. The monument was erected by the piety of his son, and does credit to his taste as well as to his filial affection. Near by is the grave of Mr. Miller [D43], of New-Jersey, an eloquent and eminent young lawyer, who fell a victim to the ardour of his professional pursuits. He came out to France for the benefit of his health the last summer, and died soon after His arrival. In the same vicinity, are the graves of Richards [D43] of New-York, a promising young gentleman, educated at West Point; and of Tucker [D43], from Boston, who died, and were buried on the same day. Their premature deaths in a foreign land, far from their friends and country, produced a lively sympathy even among strangers. A monument was observed in memory of Mr. Smith of New-York [D43]; as also a remarkably neat column, erected by paternal affection, to commemorate the death of Louisa Butler [D43], a young lady from the United States, who died at the age of seventeen. With a tribute of sympathy for the fate of so many of our countrymen, we concluded our survey of Pere La Chaise, as I now conclude the prolix sketch of my observations.

I will be in Paris in late April

I'm returning to Paris in late April and plan to spend several days in Pére-Lachaise, Montparnasse, Montmartre and Passy cemeteries tracking down sculptures and old burials. If you need a photo of a gravesite please send me the name and grave location and I'll shoot the image for you. Just be aware that I won't have time to search cemetery records, however.  You must already know the grave division and hopefully line number. Sorry, but I have a very long shot list. . . . 

 photo of the temporary memorial column to the dead from World War 1, in front of the chapel in division 55.

photo of the temporary memorial column to the dead from World War 1, in front of the chapel in division 55.

Postcard from Paris: Mur des Fédérés

On 28 May 1871, 147 Communard prisoners were lined up against the wall presently marking the boundary of the cemetery and summarily shot. Their bodies were thrown into a mass grave in front of the wall that marks the edge of this part of the cemetery (the original wall was replaced long ago). Located in D76 just off of Avenue Circulaire.

Taken in late May, year unknown but before 1907. The grave barely noticeabl to the lower left is probably that of Reties


. . . and in 2009: