Sitting just next to the famous Sacré-Cœur cathedral, in the garden of the Paris’ oldest church, Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, is the city’s oldest cemetery. The tiny Cimetière du Calvaire is also Paris’ smallest cemetery and sits upon the highest point of Parisian soil.
The cemetery dates back to the original Montmartre Abbey and was officially opened in 1688. The site for the cemetery was chosen on the belief that the it was once an ancient Merovingian necropolis. The cemetery was expanded in 1697 but fell victim to the Revolution a century later with all other clergy property. However, as it was the only cemetery in the ancient village it was once again opened in 1801. The city also opened another cemetery in the lower part of the village which became Montmartre Cemetery.
The newly opened then became a final resting place for the upper class citizens of lower Montmartre. It also houses the graves of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Paris in 1814.
In 1831, the city built the Saint-Vincent cemetery to cater to the village. Since then, the Cimetière du Calvaire only permits the burials of descendants of families with plots. There are many notable graves in the cemetery, not least the explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville and Paris’ oldest family, the Lecuyers. The cemetery was the final resting place for many politicians, counts, artists and admirals.
Although it is not open to the public, the cemetery’s famous bronze gate (the work of Italian sculptor Tommaso Gismondi) opens twice a year for visitors. Members of the public can visit on All Saints Day (November 1st) and city’s Heritage Days on the third weekend of September.
You can reach the cemetery from either the Anvers metro station on line 2 or Abbesses on line 12. Both take you close to the bottom of the Sacré-Cœur, where you can either walk up the cemetery or take the funicular. You can also reach the cemetery by bus, as the number 30 bus stops only metres away from the basilica.
For our guest, the Cimetière du Calvaire is a mere five minute walk from our hostel. Book with us now and discover Montmartre on your doorstep!