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Montparnasse cemetery

Montparnasse cemetery

With a surface area of 19 hectares, Montparnasse cemetery – which was opened in 1824 – is the second-largest in Paris proper. It is also one of the city’s main green spaces.


The cemetery in southern Paris commonly referred to as “Montparnasse cemetery ” opened on 25 July 1824. It lies in the shade of some 1,200 trees, mainly sophoras, thuyas, maples, ash, lime trees and conifers. Nowadays, Montparnasse cemetery is, in effect, a flat, peaceful park in the heart of one of the busiest quarters in Paris.

Map of Montparnasse cemetery (PDF format):

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A little history:

 

A haven of quiet

Unlike Montmartre and Belleville, Montparnasse was not one of the hills that ringed the smaller Paris of days gone by. In the 16th century, the place which is now the Vavin - Raspail junction was part of a rural landscape where all manner of rubbish, including rubble and stones from the nearby quarries, was dumped. A century later, the resultant mound was given the mythological name of “Mont Parnasse” (Mount Parnassus), and students from the Latin Quarter, in the present-day 5th arrondissement, would walk through the fields to drink and dance in the rural cafés. One of those students was the philosopher Voltaire, who studied at the Jesuit Collège de Clermont (now lycée Louis-le-Grand).
In the 17th century, the land now occupied by the cemetery formed part of two farms belonging to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital and a property owned by the religious order Les Frères de la Charité. It was around this time that the members of the order built a windmill, which may still be seen (without its blades) at the western end of the cemetery. Like all church property, the land was confiscated during the French Revolution, and the new owner – the Assistance Publique – used it as a burial ground for those who died in hospital and whose remains were not claimed.
The left-bank cemetery

At the beginning of the 19th century, the City of Paris acquired the land and the adjoining properties, with a view to creating a cemetery for left-bank residents that would replace the old Vaugirard village and Sainte Catherine cemeteries.
Montparnasse cemetery initially covered a surface area of some ten hectares between present-day Rue Edgar-Quinet and Rue Froidevaux, then part of the town of Montrouge. In 1847, the surface area was doubled, and the cemetery stretched eastward as far as Boulevard Raspail and Place Denfert-Rochereau. Since 1860 – when all of the land between the wall of the Fermiers Généraux and Thiers’s fortifications was integrated into the city – the cemetery has been wholly within Paris. Street development at the end of the 19th century reduced the cemetery’s surface area.
Since it opened, more than 300,000 people have been buried in Montparnasse cemetery. Today, there are more than 35,000 tombs, and some 1,000 burials are held in the cemetery annually.

Useful information

Cimetière du Montparnasse
 3, boulevard Edouard Quinet 75014 Paris
Tel.: +33(0)1 44 10 86 50
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Raspail
Buses: 28 or 68
Opening hours 



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