Pere Lachaise

Final day of the Commune 28 May 1871

Vintage postcard series ~ The caption on the postcard reads “The last positions of the insurgents [communards] - despite their valor their positions became untenable under the fire from Mont-Valerien” a fort in Suresnes, a western suburb of Paris and seen on the far left of the image below.

Note the monument on the far right, the grave of Félix Beaujour in present-day D48.


Below: Avenue Circulaire separating D97 on the right from D76 and the Communard's’ Wall on the left. This would have been roughly the final position of the communards when they surrendered on 28 May 1871.


Timbrunne de Valence in D24

Vintage postcard series ~ Jean-Baptiste-Cyrus Timbrune duc de Valence (1757–1822). French general and senator. Relief of various life-size military accouterments by Gilet and Duboc.

D24 Chemin Laplace, line 2.

Normand 1863 plate 40

Normand 1863 plate 40

Quaglia 1832

Quaglia 1832

Marty 1840

Marty 1840

photo 2006 by Steve Soper

photo 2006 by Steve Soper

photo 2011 by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin (cropped)

photo 2011 by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin (cropped)

Using the Online Paris Cemeteries Database

By now most of you know that the Paris city archives has made burial records covering 1804-1968 for 19 of the city’s 20 cemeteries accessible online (Calvaire is the exception). Great news indeed!

Of course, you will still need to know the name of the cemetery where the deceased is buried and at least an approximate date of death/interment. Even then, the challenge for non-French speakers is navigating your way through the tangle of steps it will take to get your information and then to decipher what you find.

So, I’ve created a page that I hope will make your task a bit easier:

By all means let know what you think and if the steps need retweaking.

Carvalho in D65

Vintage postcard series ~ Marie-Caroline Carvalho (1827–1895). French soprano opera singer. Life-size relief of Madame Carvalho with hands clasped, rising to heaven, and at the bottom of the sculpture is a lyre carved from flowers with a warbler sitting on the lyre; by Antonin Mercié.

D65, along Avenue Circulaire.

photo 2006 by Steve Soper

photo 2006 by Steve Soper

Communards' Wall in D76

Vintage postcard series ~ Many of the burials in this division, particularly those close to the Mur des Fédérés/Communards’ Wall consist of revolutionaries, former Communards, and socialist activists such as Laura Marx and her husband, Paul LaFargue.


The Soviet version:


Square Père-Lachaise

Vintage postcard series ~ Between the cemetery’s northern wall and Avenue Gambetta Square Père-Lachaise has been renamed in honor of the French explorer Square Samuel du Champlain, who also has a lake named him in North America. Rarely visited by tourists, the park is a peaceful place to sit and plan how you’re going to spend the rest of your life in Paris.

Note that one of the views you can see the old northern entrance to the cemetery, which has been closed for many years.

inside Porte des Osieux

inside Porte des Osieux

A tour of artists buried in D24 and 23 of Père-Lachaise

There's so much French culture to discover in the incredible 107 acres of Père-Lachaise Cemetery: sculpture, history, and of course the graves of some of the greatest cultural and artistic icons of the 19th and 20th centuries. So, if you're interested in 19th century French art and literary history two small divisions in particular should be at the top of your list.

Located near the top of the hill overlooking the city of Paris and just to the south and east of the chapel, bounded by the Avenue Saint-Morys, Avenue Transversale No. 1,  Chemin Adanson, Chemin Laplace and Chemin de la Citerne, divisions 23 and 24 are the final resting places of no less than six of the greatest 19th century French artists: Jean Camille Corot, Charles Daubigny, Honoré Daumier, James Pradier, Dominique Ingres, Jean Raffaëlli, and one pioneer of French education: Stéphanie Genlis

We begin with two French painters buried side-by-side, Camille Corot (left) and Charles Daubigny:


Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875). Chemin Laplace, line 6, next to Charles Daubigny.

Bust of Corot by Michel Béguine

Bust of Corot by Michel Béguine

Ville d'Avray,  1865, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Ville d'Avray, 1865, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Woman with a pearl , 1868-70, Louvre, Paris

Woman with a pearl, 1868-70, Louvre, Paris

Charles-François Daubigny (1817–1878). French painter. Chemin Laplace, line 5, next to Jean Corot.

Bust (1879) of Charles by Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume

Bust (1879) of Charles by Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume

The Ponds of Gylieu , 1853, Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA

The Ponds of Gylieu, 1853, Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio, USA

Boats on the seacoast at Étaples , 1871, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Boats on the seacoast at Étaples, 1871, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Nearby is French sculptor Jacques “James” Pradier (1794–1852) located at Chemin Molière et La Fontaine, junctions of Chemin de la Citerne, and Chemin du Dragon.

Note that on the monument itself are a bust of Pradier by former student Eugene-Louis Lequesne and reliefs of several of Pradier’s most notable works, also by former students: Phryne, by Antoine Étex; Psyche, by Claude-Eugène Guillaume; Niobide, by Jacques-Léonard Maillet; Sappho, by Pierre-Charles Simart.

Other reliefs of Pradier’s works located on the monument are: Cyparisse and his stag, by Hippolyte Ferrat; Nyssia, by Augustin Courtet; La Poésie légère, by François-Félix Roubaud; Pelion or Phydias, by François-Clément Moreau.

photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin for the wikimedia project

photo by Pierre-Yves Beaudouin for the wikimedia project

Odalisque , 1841, Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, France

Odalisque, 1841, Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon, France

Louise Colet , 1837, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Louise Colet, 1837, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). French caricaturist, painter, sculptor, and one of the most gifted and prolific draftsmen of his time. Chemin Laplace, line 2, a few steps from Corot and Daubigny.

Second class carriage , Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, USA

Second class carriage, Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, USA

Legislative belly,  1834, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Legislative belly, 1834, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY, USA

Just a few meters away across Chemin Adanson in D23 is French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867). Second row in from Avenue Saint-Morys and close to Chemin Adanson.

Bust (1868) by Jean Bonnassieux; architect: Victor Baltard.

Bust (1868) by Jean Bonnassieux; architect: Victor Baltard.

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière,  1806, Louvre, Paris

Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière, 1806, Louvre, Paris

La baigneuse Valpinçon , 1808, Louvre, Paris

La baigneuse Valpinçon, 1808, Louvre, Paris

Close to Ingres is painter Jean François Raffaëlli (1850–1924). Chemin Adanson.

Bust (1910) of Jean by Teresa Feoderovna Ries.

Bust (1910) of Jean by Teresa Feoderovna Ries.

Boulevard Saint-Michel , 1890, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Boulevard Saint-Michel, 1890, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

The Boulevard , Corcoran Galley, Washington, DC

The Boulevard, Corcoran Galley, Washington, DC

Raffaëlli in his studio

Raffaëlli in his studio

Finally, there is Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de Saint-Aubin comtesse de Genlis (1746-1831), French writer and pioneer in education. Chemin Laplace, line 8. Originally buried in Mont-Valerien Cemetery, her remains were transferred to Père-Lachaise in 1842.

portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

portrait by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

Portrait medallion (1843) of Stéphanie by Edme-Jean-Louis Sornet.

Portrait medallion (1843) of Stéphanie by Edme-Jean-Louis Sornet.

Identifying Early Burials in Père-Lachaise, or M. Roger et fils Try to do the Impossible in 1816

[This is a revised version of an article I wrote for the Association of Gravestone Studies Quarterly]

On May 21, 1804, when Le Cimetière Mont-Louis (officially known as Le Cimetiere de l'Est but eventually more popularly as Père-Lachaise) opened on the site of a former Jesuit retreat set amidst 42 acres of sweeping garden lanes that were both part of the original estate and sculpted according to a plan laid down by renowned architect Alexandre-Theodore Brongniart (buried in division 11), it was unlike any burial site that anyone in Paris could remember.

Brongniart map, 1813

Besides the temporary grave markers for the common man, woman and child set on a westward-facing slope amidst cypresses, willows, and shrubs and flowers of all shapes, colors and sizes, if one had enough money they could actually purchase a permanent burial site, a concession perpetuite.

This new burial scheme was remarkable for its novelty. Parisian burial grounds were usually laid out in small parish cemeteries, on flat ground, making for easy interment and, presumably maintenance. Nor were most graves permanent and rarely, if ever, memorialized. After a predetermined time allowed for decomposition, most bodies were removed and the bones placed in a nearby charnel house. But the city’s ancient central cemetery, Les Innocents, which had been recycling human remains for centuries eventually became too much for the community to bear – literally bodies were falling into basements and the stench became unbearable for nearby residents.

Although the process of closing the city’s unhygienic and overcrowded church cemeteries had begun during the reign of Louis XVI and accelerated in the early years of the Revolution, church cemeteries, particularly anathema to the new revolutionary ideals after 1789, could no longer be tolerated.

Of the "new" Paris cemeteries available to city residents in the first years of the 19th century, Montmartre was on the site of two older burial grounds in a former quarry, while the cemeteries of Vaugirard, Sainte Catherine, and Clamart were laid out on flat ground in previously-used burial spaces, both easily accessible for the residents in the southwestern and southern portions of the city respectively.

With the exception of Père-Lachaise, none of these cemeteries were by any means “new.” Although formally established in 1825, Montmartre, also known as Le Cimetière du Nord, the Northern Cemetery, was in fact on the site of two older burial grounds in a gypsum quarry and throughout the first twenty or so years of the 19th century all authors refer to it’s existence. Earlier iterations of Vaugirard dated to the late 18th century (and is not the same as the present Vaugirard Cemetery).

Clamart and Sainte-Catherine were next-door neighbors near present-day Boulevard Saint-Marcel, so to speak, burial grounds that also pre-dated the opening of new cemeteries. Clamart was located just about where Square Scipion is located today, at the corner of what is now rue du Fer a Moulin and rue Scipion; Sainte-Catherine was located under what is now Boulevard Saint-Marcel, roughly between rue Fosses de Saint-Marcel and rue Scipion.

But Père-Lachaise would be different.

It was the farthest from the city proper, it lay uphill, and was certainly not readily or easily accessible to city residents. (By contrast, the parish cemetery in the nearby small village of Charonne, which exists today, was still in operation serving the local residents.) The fact that the government even considered such a unique site as the old Jesuit retreat, with its overgrown, sloping paths and vistas of the city to the west and Vincennes to the east showed a refreshing imagination in designing a place for the city’s future dead. Yet what seemed so different about Père-Lachaise apparently made it more, not less attractive.

1815, attributed to Courvoisier

The man responsible for all this was Nicholas Frochot (division 37), then Prefect of the Seine, an administrative post that was part city mayor of Paris and governor of much of what is now the Isle de France. Frochot arranged for the purchase of the former Jesuit property then owned by Louis Baron-Desfontaines (division 22), quite probably at the suggestion of the man who appointed him, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Whether it was Frochot or Napoleon who had the original idea to locate the city’s newest cemetery on the old Jesuit home, the Prefect set to work to make this one of the most unique burial grounds in the world. Relying on Brongniart's architectural expertise and building on the existing gardens, orchards, and walking paths of the old Jesuit retreat, graves large and small were laid out more or less at random, scattered beneath cypresses and willows.

Aside from establishing a totally new burial space of flowing gardens, winding paths and rambling trees, arbors and shrubs, Frochot also established the concession perpetuite, or permanent burial site. For a fee, a family could purchase space that was to be held in perpetuity – as long as they agreed to maintain the grave. Any abandoned or derelict gravesite would revert to the cemetery to be reused. An area was also set aside for "temporary" burials (fosses commune). For a smaller fee than the concession perpetuite, a family could “lease” a plot of ground for a given period after which the remains would be removed, placed in the ossuary and the ground reused.

The truly amazing thing was that for the first time in the city's history, men, women, children, families large and small, nearly all classes of people now had a space for memorialization. And those memorials could, with a little extra money, be rendered permanent. Novel indeed!

Parisians were on the cusp of a fundamental reevaluation about death and the dead, about how they wanted to remember and be remembered après la mort. Indeed, there soon developed a broadly keen interest in finding and memorializing burial sites. Equally remarkable was how quickly these new ideas about burial and memorialization resulted in the demand for printed guides to the monuments of the famous and near-famous.

1809, Antoine Caillot creates the first guide to Paris Cemeteries

In 1809 Antoine Caillot produced what is probably the first guidebook to the cemeteries of Paris. His Voyage Religieux et Sentimental aux Quatre Cimetières de Paris focused on four of the prominent cemeteries then in use just outside the city proper: Montmartre, Mont-Louis (Père-Lachaise), Vaugirard and Clamart-Sainte Catherine. Aside from providing background information for each burial ground and discussing the religious significance of many of the burials, Caillot’s emphasis was to identify and describe notable interments and their markers. In regards to Père-Lachaise he listed 38 burials along with details and epitaphs.

When Caillot published his guide to Paris cemeteries in 1809 there were probably less than 200 burials in Pere-Lachaise, the largest of the "new" city cemeteries. Indeed, it has often been argued that the popularity of the cemetery would not actually take off until 1817 when the remains -- or what passed for remains -- of writers La Fontaine and Moliere and the star-crossed 12th century lovers the abbess Heloise Argenteuil and noted scholar and theologian Pierre Abelard, along with pieces of Heloise’s Paraclet Abbey used to build the two lovers' tomb, were removed to "Mont-Louis," to Pere-Lachaise.

tomb of Heloise and Abelard with the old Jesuit mansion on the hilltop in the background

It is my belief there was already a growing interest in memorialization in Paris underway well before 1817.

After his death in 1813 the imposing memorial of acclaimed French poet Jacques Delille became a place of pilgrimage for many Parisians. In fact, Delille’s tomb was located at the end of a small glen (bosquet) that itself would quickly fill up with numerous other luminaries: architect Alexandre Theodore Brongniart (1813), statesman Pierre Louis Ginguene (1816), and the opera singer Andre Ernest Gretry (1813).

The writer Stansilas Boufflers (1815) was even buried in the same enclosure with Delille and the body of Saint-Lambert was removed from Vaugirard and reinterred next to Delille as well. Delille’s “bosquet” remains largely intact today.

tomb of Jacques Delille, division 11, 1821

These first years saw numerous other notables interred on "Mont-Louis," individuals who in their own day attracted wide notoriety and attention: Antoine Parmentier (1813), who brought the potato to prominence in France, Marshal Michel Ney and comte Charles de La Bedoyere, both executed in 1815 for their support of Napoleon’s return (paying the ultimate price for his eventual failure).

1815-1816, C. P. Arnaud and Pietresson de Saint-Aubin

The interest in memorialization of the common man as well as the growing curiosity to see the burial sites of the notables of Parisian society soon produced the first two really serious attempts to graphically locate the graves of the latter.

In October of 1815, C. P. Arnaud produced a map of Père-Lachaise, which would eventually accompany his Recueil de Tombeaux des Quatre Cimetières de Paris (1817). While similar to Brongniart’s 1813 map, Arnaud’s included existing structures such as the abandoned mansion and the concierge’s house. He then proceeded to identify the locations of 89 monuments in (some including multiple burials), noting them on his map as he walked the cemetery.

Arnaud, 1815

Arnaud then discussed 21 monuments in the text, even providing 10 of his entries with prints. (The idea of producing prints of the monuments of the famous and near-famous would indeed become quite popular over the succeeding decades. In fact, in 1823 Arnaud would produce a small volume of drawings of the doors of 18 mausoleums, with prints of each one, and in 1825 a second volume of his cemetery transcriptions. The latter would cover 33 monuments (5 repeated from his 1817 study), also with prints of 30 monuments.

In his 1816 guide to “day trips” from Paris, Dictionnaire Historique Topographique et Militaire de Tous les Environs de Paris, Pietresson de Saint-Aubin may have been the first writer of a general tour of Paris to focus on the four cemeteries of Vaugirard, Montmartre, Sainte-Catherine and of course, Père-Lachaise, as destinations worth exploring. (He included 37 entries for Père-Lachaise, “Mont-Louis.”) Building on his 1816 study, a decade later Saint-Aubin, too, would produce his own guide to Paris cemeteries: Promenade aux Cimetieres de Paris, aux Sepultures Royales de Saint-Denis et aux Catacombes.

These early efforts by Caillot and Saint-Aubin to identify the more well-known tombs at Père-Lachaise, hinted at the stories that lay beneath and around those handful of burials. Arnaud took their work to the next level and sought to locate those more well-known burials on a map as well as provide prints of some of them (making it easier to find them perhaps), all of which helped advance this new attention to who was buried where in Paris. And of course it also helped raised the exposure of Père-Lachaise as a place to consider spending eternity.

This interest in who was buried in Père-Lachaise, this new phenomenon of looking at death in a wholly different way through memorialization and pilgrimage, quickly culminated in a truly remarkable study of burials in the city's largest and most well-known cemetery.

1815-1816, Roger et fils raise the bar

A year before the transfer of the remains of Moliere, La Fontaine and Heloise and Abelard to Père-Lachaise in 1817, a father and son team published what must rank as one of the most unique study of any western cemetery. Published in Paris in 1816, Le Champ du Repos, ou Le Cimetiere de Mont-Louis, dit du Pere Lachaise by Roger et Fils is an exhaustive two-volume series listing every one of the more than 2,100 burials in the cemetery comprising what was then known about everyone buried in Père-Lachaise.

This work must certainly rank as the seminal study of the earliest burials in the cemetery: What the authors attempted to do, and very nearly succeeded, was to identify every known grave at the time, including even the temporary ones.

How did they do it?

First, they provided a handy map of the cemetery using major landmarks as a means of breaking the cemetery into manageable areas.

The various sections of the two volumes are broken down by series, which correspond to particular areas on the map, using letters A-F as identifiers that correspond to an outstanding landmark in that section:

  • Lachapelle (Greffulhe chapel) - corresponds roughly to divisions present-day 40, 43, 45-46; plates 1-7, numbers 1-406

  • Clary - divisions 20-30, 37-39, 48-53, 55; plates 8-16, nos. 407-783

  • Delille - divisions 8-13; plates 17-24 , nos. 784-1179

  • Lenoir-Dufresne - divisions 4, 57-58 (fosses communes); plates 25-36 , nos. 1180-1881

  • Entree Projetee - divisions 1-3, 59 (fosses communes); plate 37, nos. 1182-2005

  • Demauclere (mausoleum of madame, abbesse de l’abbaye royale de la Ferre) - divisions 7, 14, 16, 31, 35-36; plate 38, nos. 2006-2092

The two volumes record 2,174 burials in 2,091 entries; of that number 168 list no death year and 33 list a year but no date. Two hundred sixty-six locations are presently known. Almost all are individual entries (although there are occasions when multiple individuals are buried in the same location).

figure 7

 The Rogers began by listing every grave with all the details inscribed on each stone or marker, including epitaphs and then assigning a number to each grave. They then sketched out each grave memorial or marker, and fairly accurate illustrations they are, right down to writing the deceased's name on every drawing (figure 7).

The finished sketched illustration (planche or “plate”) was given a number that corresponded to the grave listing and each drawing was then grouped together into a series of 37 illustration “maps” (figure 8). They even sketched out the markers for the seventeen burials that had no inscription at all and four where they couldn’t read the inscriptions.

figure 8

Rogers' illustrations demonstrate an amazing attention to detail. For example, several of the graves in figure 9 look pretty much today the way the Rogers sketched them, in particular poet Jacques Delille (the large building in the center) and Alexandre Brongniart, the architect of the cemetery's original layout (located just to the right of Delille); both men buried in present-day division 11.

figure 9

Did the Rogers sketch the graves and list them in the order they found them? In other words, did they walk and sketch the graves as they walked along? This seems less clear today.

By breaking the cemetery down into clearly defined “sections” they clearly attempted to narrowly locate each grave to be sure. For example, the most temporary of burials, the fosses commune, are nearly all found on plates 34-36 in what is today divisions 57-59. Of the 266 known locations we find some pattern to be sure: in the illustration figure 9, most of those graves are in fairly close proximity to each other (today).

On the other hand, to list two examples, of the 14 known burial locations found in division 4, the listings in Roger are scattered among plates 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 37, while the 15 known burials in division 8 are found on plates 17, 18, 19 and 21.

It's therefore possible that there was some order in in where Rogers found the grave but it's not clear what that order was, at least not precisely. It's therefore likely that whatever systematic plan they used is not obvious today in how the graves are listed or sketched out.

And, while it’s probably safe to say that many of the graves were near one another in some fashion. beyond that we can’t be sure of exactly how the Rogers’ approached organizing their layouts.

Nor does it appear that they listed the gravesites by date of death. Here again there is occasionally a pattern, but that might be just coincidental to the actual burials themselves. Someone who died on one day, for example, might be buried near someone who died a week earlier simply by virtue of that space being more “available.”

For example, there appears a clear chronological order on plates 1-5: all but 12 of the 63 entries in plate 1 are listed in chronological order and the next four plates also demonstrate a chronology approach to listing them. The remaining plates, however, list burials with random death dates, with the occasional return to a chronological listing (see for example, plates 28-30). Indeed, nearly all the burials noted on plate 19 occurred February through March of 1815, yet the burials on plate 21 occurred between 1810 and 1814.

What complicates matters was the distinctive nature of Père-Lachaise itself (see for example figure 2). We know from early prints and observations by visitors during the early years of the cemetery that burials were scattered here-and-there, markers often set off by themselves, rather like many burial stones in Mt. Auburn Cemetery (Cambridge, MA) today. Thus, it’s probably safe to say that the earliest burials, aside from those “temporary” ones, were randomly located around the “grounds.”

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA, USA

As one English traveler observed in 1822, the cemetery was “a wilderness of little enclosures . . . 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.” That would certainly make laying out any systematic plan challenging.

Finally, the Rogers’ attempt to locate and sketch each and every grave in the cemetery leaves us with the curious puzzle of why they left some burials out of their collection. A quick analysis of our sources shows that they did not record at least 9 listed by Caillot in 1809 and at least 41 listed on Arnaud’s map of 1815 are not found in Roger. For example, one of those notable graves listed on Arnaud’s map but not in Roger was wealthy negociant Pierre Gareau, who died on August 30, 1815. Gareau’s monument was then and still is topped by a life-size statue of a sitting woman with her hands brought up to her face.

It would seem that the Rogers did not refer to any older source when compiling their listings. But we’ll probably never know for certain.

What is certain is that the Rogers comprehensive and exhaustive efforts to find, identify, transcribe and then illustrate each and every monument and marker in the cemetery is nothing short of amazing. Their work should serve as inspiration for all of us who toil in the champs du repos, who seek to capture and preserve the memories of those who came before us, of “those who sleep the sleep that knows no waking.”

Just the beginning

Following the publication of Le champ du repos, the interest in identifying burials in Père-Lachaise intensified throughout the first half of the century. In 1821 F. G. T. de Jolimont published Les Mausolees de Paris, a detailed study of 51 notable burials in the cemetery with 42 accompanying prints. Beginning as early as 1822, Galignani, the Paris-based English-language publisher of guides to the city, began including itineraries to the major cemeteries, a trend they would continue in each annual edition for years to come. Baedeker guides would also pick up the same theme, including the major cemeteries, especially Père-Lachaise in its suggested itineraries.

In the 1820s Marchant de Beaumont published at least three separate guides to Père-Lachaise, and in 1832 Louis M. Normand produced a detailed architectural study of the larger monuments in the city’s cemeteries, including nearly many in Père-Lachaise. What may have been an attempt to emulate the work of the Rogers, in 1855 F. T. Salomon, published Le Père-Lachaise: Recueil General, an incredible effort to list more than 16,000 permanent concessions and then locate them all on the accompanying map.

Père-Lachaise  long ago passed from its origins as a garden or pastoral cemetery and is today a true necropolis, a city of the dead with little houses lining paved streets just as you might find in any French village.

division 19 and the left and 27 on the right 

Download both volumes (free):

Volume 1 from the website (78.7Mb)

Volume 2 website (19.7Mb)

For more information about the cemetery today visit:ère_du_Père-Lachaise

News from Père-Lachaise

Méliès tomb renovation.

t appears that the family of cinema pioneer Georges Méliès has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for renovating his tomb in D64. You can find out more online:

Georgian hero

Georgia Today reports that one of the early heroes of Georgian independence, Nikoloz Cheidze, is buried in PL, although that has yet to be confirmed.

Update on Marie Beleyme’s research

I’ve posted here recently that Marie has provided online access to the first 3400 earliest burials to PL on her blog. Well, she’s now posted a wonderful timeline of important historical moments in the early historical development of the cemeteries of Paris:

Need grave locations in Père-Lachaise

The following prints are from Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé.

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 14

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 14

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 14

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 14

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand Paris: A. Morel Publisher plate 66

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand Paris: A. Morel Publisher plate 66

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 17

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 17

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 34

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 34

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 49

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 49

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 16

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 16

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Elizabeth Tooke (1771-1834)  Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Elizabeth Tooke (1771-1834) Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

“Unknown”  Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France,  2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

“Unknown” Monuments funéraires choisis dans les cimetières de Paris et des principales villes de France, 2nd part, 1863, by L. Normand ainé plate 19

Porte Principale of Père-Lachaise

Lest you think the main entrance to Père-Lachaise is just a simple gate to a cemetery, think again. Because this is no ordinary cemetery this is no ordinary gate but a portal to a completely different world, a place to be experienced, to be felt, where you'll find stories to be told and retold. Oh, and the people you'll meet. . . 

1817 Arnaud

1817 Arnaud

1832 Normand

1832 Normand

1832 Quaglia

1832 Quaglia

1837 by Courvoisier

1837 by Courvoisier

1839-40 by Rousseau, Lassalle & Marty

1839-40 by Rousseau, Lassalle & Marty

1845 print by Gavard from an earlier print by Courvoisier (see above)

1845 print by Gavard from an earlier print by Courvoisier (see above)

1850-60 fanciful rendition by Ferat

1850-60 fanciful rendition by Ferat

1855 Bernard

1855 Bernard

1855 photo in Salomon, reprinted in Astrié 1865

1855 photo in Salomon, reprinted in Astrié 1865



1896 photo by Fraigneau, Le Monde Moderne

1896 photo by Fraigneau, Le Monde Moderne

photo postcard c. 1900

photo postcard c. 1900

2006 photo Steve Soper

2006 photo Steve Soper

2012 photo Coyau@WikimediaCommons

2012 photo Coyau@WikimediaCommons

2016 photo Wikimedia

2016 photo Wikimedia

Graves identified

Thanks to Pierre-Yves Beaudouin and Marie Beleyme we have identifications for at least two of the three images. 

In division 4 (D4), Marie believes this to be an architectural counterpoint to the recumbent statue of the sculptor Bartholomé, which you can see in the right background, although she's going to confirm this shortly:


In D59 Pierre informs me that this is the Delfosse family:


This one we're still awaiting identification, in D62:


1822 Galginani's Guide to the Cemeteries of Paris

["The Cemeteries" From the 10th edition of Galignani’s New Guide to Paris, Paris, 1822, pp. 558-66. Present division location is noted in brackets]

Here pass in melancholy state
By all the solemn heaps of fate,
And think, as softly sad you tread
Above the venerable dead;
Time was, like thee, they life possest,
And time shall be, that thou shalt rest.

* * *

Cemetery of Montmartre.

The Cemetery of Montmartre is situated to the north of Paris, near the hill of that name. The road to it is by the barriers of Clichy and Rochechouart. The spot which it occupies was formerly a plaster-quarry; and the irregularity of the ground, arising from this circumstance, gives it rather a picturesque and romantic appearance. When the door of the cemetery is opened, you behold a deep valley, with tombs scattered here and there, surrounded by trees and verdure. It was the first cemetery that was used, and it was in this valley that the first interment was made.

At the bottom of the valley, a little to the left, is the great common grave in which are buried in rows all those who do not receive the honour of a particular grave.

Three eminences or elevations are remarked within this cemetery. The first and most considerable is to the right, on entering; it forms almost a third of the cemetery, and is a continuation of the hill of Montmartre. The second is to the left, and is the smallest. The third is at the bottom of the valley opposite the entrance, where is a small building for the grave-diggers and workmen to deposit their tools.

On the eminence, to the right, against the wall of enclosure, is the tomb of Legouvé, member of the national institute and of the legion of honour, and author of the charming poem, Le mérite des Femmes. This tomb, of a square form, is placed in the middle of a little garden, surrounded by an iron railing. On the south side is a stone bench, on which the poet used to go and sit to lament his wife, whom he had the misfortune to survive, and near whom he now lies. Legouvé died in 1812.

At the entrance of the valley, on a modest stone, is this inscription: Mademoisselle Volnais, du Theâtre Français, aux mânes de dame veuve Crozet.  Below are the following beautiful and affecting lines.

Celle qut dort ici, des ma premiere aurore,
Me cembla de sea soins, de sea tendres secours;
Quand je serai, comme elle, au terme de mes jours,
Mes yeux, en se fermant, la pleureront encore

In the middle of the valley is the tomb of the Vicomte de la Tour-Dupin, with an epitaph by Delille. Next to him lies the famous dancer, Vestris.

On a· black marble slab, under the shade of a poplar and a cypress, is an excellent epitaph to the memory of the poet, Saint Lambert, author of the beautiful poem of the Seasons. He died in 1803. [Lambert was transferred to D11 Père-Lachaise.]

There is also a monument in this cemetery of the celebrated sculptor, Pigalle; and there are many other tombs and epitaphs, well calculated to interest the visiter, but none erected to any other person of note.

Cemetery of Père la Chaise.

This vast burial-ground is situated at the extremity of the new boulevards, to the east of Paris, and near the barriere d'Aulnay.

The approach is inconvenient, through a sort of narrow street, formed on one hand, by the walls of the enclosure, on the other, by the houses situated beyond the barrier. On entering, the great court is first traversed, to the left of which is the porter's lodge. From this we pass into the cemetery, the sight of which strikes and surprises every person the first time he sees it. On the left is seen a long building which was formerly a hothouse, but is now the workshop of a statuary, who erects monuments for the cemetery.

The enclosure, which forms the cemetery, was formerly the property of the famous confessor of Lewis [sic] XIV, Père la Chaise. The house which that king built for him; still exists, but in a ruinous state, having been abandoned long before there was any idea of turning the enclosure into a cemetery. It stands majestically on the steep slope of the hill which forms the greatest part of the enclosure and commands it entirely. The traces of the ditches and moat, which surrounded it and supplied it with water, are still visible near the house. The water, which still flows by a little subterraneous canal, is now used by the gardener of the cemetery for watering the little gardens which surround the tombs; and he carries it from one to another in a cart drawn by an ass. It is limpid and good to drink.

This burial-ground is the largest of the four cemeteries of Paris. It is said to contain from 60 to 8o acres, entirely enclosed by a stone wall. It is principally composed of a hill; only at the entrance the ground offers some appearance of a plain, and to the right, on the side of Charonne, is a sort of valley. To the left, and behind the buildings of the court, is another plain, where the porter has formed a garden, and where the common graves are daily opened. The hill and the valley to the right are destined to receive the monumental tombs.

There are few places in the environs of Paris from which the view is so extensive and varied. To the west is the whole of Paris; to the north, BeIleville and Montmartre; to the south, Bicetre and Meudon; to the east, the fine plain of Sainte-Mande, Montreuil, Vincennes, and the fertile banks of the Marne.

The tombs in the cemetery of Père la Chaise are generally constructed with more luxury and magnificence than in that of Montmartre. Most of them are gaudy monuments. This cemetery, though it has only been in use for about 30 years, is become the fashionable burial-ground; as, in this country, all is subject to the laws of fashion. Here the great and the wealthy choose their sepulture.

How many rest who kept the world awake
With lustre and with noise!

This burial-ground has a peculiarity which does not exist in the other cemeteries of Paris. Destined formerly for a pleasure-ground and orchard, it is still full of flowering shrubs and fruit-trees; which, mixed with the cypresses, poplar. and weeping willows, that hang over the tombs, give It an appearance quite novel and extraordinary.

To the right, on ascending towards the house of Pere la Chaise, the first interesting monument, a good way up, and on the left band, is a column of greyish white marble, ornamented by an urn, remarkable for the affecting simplicity of the epitaph it bears: le repose Marianne Diedericke, Comtesse de la Marcke, de Dessau, en Prusse, decede le 11 Juin 1814, agée de 34 ans. --Qui l' a connue la pleure. [D8?]

Almost close to this tomb, on a base of black marble, is a pedestal of white marble, on which is inscribed: Marie Joseph Chenier, ne a Constantinople en 1764, mort a Paris en 1811. [D8]

To the left of the tomb of Chenier, under a walk of trees, is that of Delille [D11], the French Virgil. This monument is of large dimensions, and constructed of solid stone. The interior is large, and has a bronze door, over which is engraved Jacques Delille. It is surrounded by a garden, very neatly kept up, enclosed by an elegant iron railing.

We are now on the classical ground of the cemetery.

To the left of Delille’s tomb, in the same alley, and in a manner under the shade of the same trees, in the centre of a little grove, is a column, surmounted by a funeral urn. On the column is engraved a sphere, the symbol of the talent of the deceased. Below is inscribed: Edmond Mentelle, membre de l'Institut, decide le 20 decembre 1815, a l’age de 86 ans. [D11]

Near the tomb of Delille, on the same line, and the right, a square tomb of white marble. On the front is a lyre sculptured, and this inscription: Andre Ernest Modeste Gretry, ne a Liege Ile 11 fervor 1741, decide le 24 septembre 1813. [D11]

A little above is the monument of Fourcroy [D11].

Leaving hill, and going towards the south-west into the valley, we find, close against the wall of the enclosure, the tomb of Labedoyere [D16], the unfortunate officer, who, forgetting his duty to his king, was the first to join Bonaparte when he advanced to Grenoble, after having landed in France from the isle of Elba, in 1815.

Further on, in the valley, to the left, on a height, is a little grove, but without a tomb, from the midst of which a large wooden cross, painted black, on which we read: ici repose Claude dit Pierre, inventeur de l'ingenieux spectacle mecanique pittorsque, decede 26 septembre 1814, age de 75 ans.

On the most elevated point of the cemetery, from which the view extends over eastern part Paris, and over all valley between it and Vincennes, is a small plot formerly called the Belvedere. There, under the shade of eight lime trees, planted in a square, is well executed tomb, in the form of a small house. Here lies Frédéric Mestrezart, [D39] a protestant pastor of the church of Geneva. On the occasion of this tomb of a protestant minister, raised in the midst of the graves of catholics, and in the former property of one of the most cruel persecutors of protestantism, a French writer exclaims: “O the power of time, and of the revolutions which it brings in its train! a minister of Calvin reposes not far from that Charenton, where the reformed religion saw its temple demolished, and its preacher proscribed. He reposes in that ground where a bigotted jesuit loved to meditate on his plans of intolerance and persecution!"

Near this monument to the memory of the minister Mestrezart is the simple tomb of the celebrated authoress Madame Cottin [D39].

Not far off, on the height, is the monument of the renowned general and marshal, Massena [D28]. It is a lofty pyramid, on one side of which is a low relief, representing his portrait, with his name, and the date of his death.

Following the same road from south to north, at some distance on the left, is an elegant tomb to the memory of Parmentier [D39], one of those men who consecrate their whole lives to the good of their country. Among other benefits, France is indebted to him in a great measure for the general cultivation of the potato.

At the oriental extremity of' the cemetery, almost opposite the house of Pere la Chaise, marshal Ney was interred under a simple monument, on which was inscribed: Ci git le marechal Ney, duc d' Elchingen, prince de la Moscowa, decede Is 7 decembre 1815. [D29] This tomb has been removed. [Reportedly the tomb was originally located in what is now either D44 or D45.]

Immediately on entering this cemetery we observe, at little distance to the monument in the Gothic style, which contains the tomb in which are the ashes of Abelard and Eloisa [D7]. This elegant monument, constructed by the care and taste of M. Lenoir, was formerly in the Museum of French Monuments, founded by him during the revolution, but no longer existing.

Monuments have also been erected lately to Lafontaine and Moliere [D25] and there are many other tombs, of which forms or the inscriptions will prove interesting to the traveller; but the limits of our Guide will not allow us to indulge any further particulars.

In 1814, when the enemy was approaching the capital, the cemetery of Père la Chaise was considered as important position, and worthy of being fortified, and the walls were pierced with loopholes for the musquetry. These holes are still visible. On the 30th of March this position was vigorously attacked by two entire Russian divisions, and Paris having capitulated the same evening, the Russians formed their bivouac in cemetery.

Cemetery of Vaugirard

It is situated beyond the western boulevards, at the entrance of the village of Vaugirard. This cemetery has few remarkable monuments. The poor chiefly are buried here; it is the burial place of those who die in the great hospital called l’Hôtel-Dieu, and also of the numerous and indigent population of the faubourgs Saint Jacques.

On a simple stone, let into the east wall, is an inscription to the memory of the famous actress Hypolyte Clairon [transferred to D20 Père-Lachaise]; and about 30 yards from her is buried the celebrated La Harpe, author of Cours de Littérature and other works.

Cemetery of Sainte-Catherine.

Though this last cemetery is in the interior of Paris, we mention it here in order to complete the description of all the cemeteries of Paris, in one article. The cemetery of Saint Catherine is situated in the least populous part of the faubourg Saint-Marceau, in the street of the Gobelins. On this account there are fewer remarkable monument here than even in that of Vaugirard. We shall only mention one. To the right, almost in the middle of the first group of tomb-stones, is a monument of common stone, raised on three steps. Above is a sort of military trophy, formed of a helmet met, a cannon ball, and two swords laid acrosS

I' each other. On the principal front is this inscription: Ici reposent des cendres de Charles Pichegru, general-en-chef des armees françaises, ne á Arbois, departement du Jura, le14 fevrier 1761; mort a Paris, le 5 avril 1814. Eleve par la pieté filiale .

Thus, in an obscure corner, under a tomb hardly known, reposes the conquerer of Holland. He who first accustomed the French to those splendid victories which afterwards raised to so high a pitch their military glory. The circumstances of the death of Pichegru, in the Temple, are too well known to be repeated here.

Such are the four great Cemeteries of Paris. Formed scarcely 30 years ago, they figure already among the most curious and remarkable establishments of the capital, from the diversity of funeral monuments they contain. A walk through them is certainly one of the most interesting objects which we can recommend to the attention of the observing traveler.

1820 Recollections of John Adolphus

["Chapter V," From Emily Henderson, Recollections of the Public Career and Private Life of the Late John Adolphus, London: Cautley Newby, Publisher, 1871, pp. 118-120.]

"We all went this morning to the Cimetiere of Pere la Chaise, the celebrated burial ground, where everything ancient and modern that can be laid hands on is brought together for a show. The ground is said to contain 80 acres, and is on the ascent of a hill, so that tombs above tombs rise in ranks, and as they are mostly planted with firs, shrubs, and flowers, the effect of these mixed with mausoleums, columns, and -other memorials of death, is exceedingly pretty; and if the sole business of those who inter the dead is to make their burial place look pretty, and to allure people to it as a gazing place, the French have indeed succeeded to a miracle.

"When I walk through the aisles of Westminster Abbey, of St. Paul's, of Canterbury, and other cathedrals and ancient churches, and see the structures raised in honour of the illustrious dead; when I read their histories, recorded in an imperishable language, and see their effigies sculptured in an attitude of devotion, or surrounded by some of the host of heaven, my heart warms with the recollection of their famous acts, and melts in sympathy with those pious friends who, in commemorating their worth, have not forgotten to express the hope of their everlasting welfare in a better world. Even when in a more humble churchyard I perceive the frail memorials raised by unlettered humanity, the rhyme uncouth, the 'shapeless sculpture,' and the 'many a holy text,' are so apposite to the situation that I feel as a son towards the aged 'forefathers of the hamlet,' and as a brother or parent toward the young. They are buried as a family; the almost universal description is 'of this parish,' and they all profess the hope of meeting again in a joyful resurrection. But in this strange rare show of death the tomb of Abelard [D07] greets you here, those of Boileau, Moliere [D25], and Racine there. Here a warrior who fought at Fontenoy, and continued fighting till 1793; there an insignificant tomb, guarded with heavy chains, denotes the resting place of a shopkeeper who died worth a great deal of money. All these concur in a general contempt of religion, for not one in a hundred condescends to say 'resurgam,' but as many as have any wit or fancy try to surprise you into a stare, or tickle you into a laugh. A lady inscribes on a tomb, 'To my best friend, my husband.' Another,' Alexander to his mother.' Alexander! What Alexander-the Great? the Coppersmith? or who? Find it out, says the tombstone. Another commemorates, 'Zenobia and Zoe.' 'Pray, sir,' said I to a French artisan, who had asked me a question about the inscription, 'were these young ladies your daughters or mine?' The man stared as if struck with a new idea. 'Why to be sure,' he said, ' they ought to have put their nom de famille.' 

"Many of the tombs are very pretty, and some yet unfinished seemed well suited to their purpose, and to promise long duration, but the general air of the place was to me heathenish or worse. I could not help thinking that if Gobet could again be Bishop of Paris, and Hebert, Chaumette, and the rest of the Cordeliers again succeed in abolishing the belief in God, the proprietors of this cemetery would have little to do beside inscribing on the portal, 'Death is an eternal sleep,' to bring it quite to the level of the day.

"Paris is seen to great advantage from Père la Chaise, but no distant view of it affords much pleasure. From this spot its white walls, standing in an arid plain, form a continuation of the burying-place, and so require little aid of fancy to blend the mansions of the living with the receptacles of the dead.