A Cemetery Under the Street: Montmartre Cemetery, Paris

Paris, CemeteriesCreepy GirlComment

Jet lagged and trying to not vomit, or fall asleep from the amount of bad wine and pills I ingested on the airplane into CDG (a story for another time). I decided to immediately take the Metro North of Sacre-Coeur to Montmartre Cemetery. Backstory: this cemetery was built in the 18th century for the same reasons as Pere Lachaise: too many corpses leading to unhealthy dwelling conditions for residents,  thus forcing bodies to the outer city and into an abandoned gypsum quarry . 

Montmartre Stone Wall.JPG

You can see the beautiful layers of old and new along the Montmartre Cemetery wall, and on the other side lies the underdog resting place for Parisians.


This was the best day for a cemetery stroll, cool sunny and full of weirdos (I am assuming I was one of them). I saw cat lady, mr. grave cleaner and I was stalked by a black cat.


The bridge continues...amongst graffiti and steel,  the cemetery monuments create the natural horizon. I would love this commute.

montmartre cemetery

Looking closer through the bridge...cobblestone cemetery streets and moss ridden graves.

cemetery under the bridge

Crammed monuments and a map vibrate from the automobiles above. I decided to NOT read the map this time. Instead I was in search for the weirdest graves and the cat lady...

montmartre stone grave

First up for the weird grave contest: Pierre and Nicole resting below stones.

Iron cage grave

Another contender: the iron cage? Crib? Do these dead people even know they are in this contest? They really should tidy up.

cactus grave

Or does it go to the cactus that appears to be flipping me off?

glass tobmstone

Glass grave...meh.

cemetery montmartre

This is when my half-drugged childish game ended. Possibly the most beautiful monument I have experienced in a cemetery: turquoise, amazing, intricately carved owls at each Doric column, intense scenes of flying skeletons and sinking ships at sea.

montmartre cemetery grave

Beautiful rust, repeated moulding and wreaths.

montmartre grave detail owl

sea and skulls

This was the happy side...the other was grim, the ship was sinking and the flying skeletons were pushing it into the sea.

Hungry and ready to  find some street food, I decided to take one more glance at the cemetery from atop a tombstone...there are a few more weird things to highlight.

montmartre cemetery

The creepy jester aka the puppet Petrouchka... Look it up, its creepster. It gives David Lynch a run for his money...

Here is the creep factor on this grave. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know) this man was a "Orientalism" painter (not very p.c.), and this is how he died!

"The bullet lodged in his intestines, and he lingered from that moment in the agonies of a painful illness, terminated by death. His last words after the bullet had entered his body were for his wife and son, who, on being informed of the tragical occurrence, came and nursed him until his death. The painter died in his studio, whither he was carried at his own request. He wanted to see his Oriental sketches for the last time."

—unattributed, The New York Times, April 6, 1887

He has a painting called, Dogs of the Douar Devouring a Dead Horse in the Gorges of El Kantar, 1883. Ish.


And the winner goes to.......

The cactus. Its a cactus, thats why.