Strolling the tranquil pathways of one of Paris’ most famous cemeteries might not seem like a likely tourist attraction, but the Montparnasse Cemetery, or Cimetière Montparnasse, owes its fame to an illustrious list of residents.
Opened in 1824, the 19-hectare space is the second-largest cemetery in Paris; a rambling park shaded by hundreds of maple, lime and conifer trees. The serene environs only add to its popularity, offering welcome respite from the urban bustle of the surrounding Montparnasse district, as well as the chance to pay your respects to some of France’s leading political, intellectual and artistic figures.
Easily located are the tombstones of French singer Serge Gainsbourg and French philosophers Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, but you’ll need to pick up a map (available at the entrance) to locate some of the harder-to-find graves. The expansive tombstones – totaling around 35,000 at present – include expressionist painter Chaim Soutine and Alfred Dreyfus, the notorious French artillery officer charged for treason back in 1894. French poet Charles Baudelaire is honored by a giant statue (although his burial site lies in the family grave of Baudelaire's step-father), as are the Four Sergeants of La Rochelle, accused of being part of the Carbonari in 1822, and a series of monuments pay homage to Parisian police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. French Romanian Sculptor Constantin Brancusi is also famously tributed, with his modernist sculpture ‘The Kiss’ standing proud near his burial site. Other notable graves include playwright Samual Beckett, Hollywood actress Jean Seberg and Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi – sculptor of the inimitable Statue of Liberty.