Montparnasse cemetery,  the final resting place of many artists and illustrious personalities.


The grave featuring Mr and Mrs Pigeon lying on their bed

After WWI, just after the heyday of Montmartre (and before the Saint Germain des Prés one) and for a few decades, Montparnasse was the home and favorite haunt of many writers and artists : Picasso, Soutine,Man Ray,Sartre,Simone de Beauvoir, Hemingway, Foujita, Zadkine, Brancusi,Amadeo Modigliani, Samuel Beckett, Fitzgerald just to name a few27092017-IMG_9992


Artists came from all over the world and Montparnasse was the capital of the avant-garde, the heart of the artistic and intellectual Parisian life.

This neighborhood has changed but you can still go to the same iconic cafés, brasseries where all these artists and writers used to go, you’ll see beautiful building façades of the old time, the homes of some of these artists, the old art supplies shops and art academies, and you’ll feel the spirit of the Roaring 20s and of the following decades. Personally, this is my favorite Paris neighborhood (with Saint Germain des Prés)


Montparnasse cemetery is the final resting place of many of these artists. Man Ray, Soutine, Zatkine, Brancusi, Brassaï, Bourdelle … It’s also the cemetery where you’ll see the graves of Jean Seberg, Serge Gainsbourg, Marguerite Duras, Susan Sontag, César (the sculptor), Brassaï, Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, Bartholdi, Camille Saint Saens, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Constantin Brancusi Some of them were the illustrious residents of Montparnasse. Graves of writers, poets, artists, filmmakers, politicians, actors, publishers, patrons of industry…  Many graves of foreigners who have made France their home.

You’ll see unusual graves too, some with great funerary art (Niki de Saint Phalle, Tinguely, Cesar…)

Auguste Bartholdi's grave

Auguste Bartholdi’s grave

A huge but beautiful and peaceful : 

You can spend a few hours in Montparnasse cemetery, walking through the lanes. This place is worth a visit. It’s a huge cemetery (47 acres – 19 hectares, with about 40 000 graves, 750 trees and bushes), very peaceful with some fascinating graves. It’s divided into 2 cemeteries separated by a street  (rue Emile Richard) : on one side, the “grand cimetière” and on the other side,  the “Petit cimetière” . Btw : The main difference with Père Lachaise is that Montparnasse cemetery is flat. No slopes. Thus, you may find Montparnasse cemetery is less charming than the Père Lachaise, but It still a beautiful place with great funerary art work and great personalities’ graves

But the graves are tightly packed. Even though you’ll find a plan of the cemetery at the entrance to help you find the graves it’s quite difficult to get around and find some graves you want to see, .


Don’t hesitate to contact me. I can accompany you and help you find the graves you’re interested in (This walk can be added or included in the Montparnasse of the Roaring 20’s’ walking tour). More details about Ann Jeanne Paris tours and  Some details about the booking and pricing 

My personal link with Montparnasse cemetery : This is the final resting place of my father. Also where my piano teacher, who taught me (private lessons) the piano since I was 8 to the age of 22, rest. So to me, this cemetery is not like the others… And … it’s nearby my home and in neighborhood I particularly love. 

Some History :  The cemetery opened in 1824. after the cemeteries closer to the center of Paris, Moulin de la Charitéwere banned owing to sanitary problems. In the early 19th century Montmartre, the Père Lachaise and the Montparnasse cemetery replaced some small ones.

Before being a cemetery, the land of Montparnasse cemetery belonged to a religious community. There was a monastery on the place and an old flour mill. It became national property at the French Revolution (from 1789). The Monastery was pulled down, but the windmill, “Le Moulin de la Charité” was kept.

Practical details : Montparnasse cemetery : 3 boulevard Edgard Quinet – Paris 14  Metro stop : Edgard Quinet or Raspail. Main entrance : Boulevard Edgar Quinet – Opening Hours : March to November : 8.30 to 6pm (Sunday : 9am) November to March : 8 to 5.30pm (Sunday : 9am)

Unusual Gravestones : 

Le Chat : A polychrome cat by Niki de Saint Phalle. A 1,50 m tall masaic representing a cat for the tomb of her friend RicardoLe Chat by Nikki de Saint Phalle

L’Oiseau : a birdman by Niki de Saint PhalleL'oiseau

The statue of the “Génie du Sommeil Eternel” (Eternal Sleep) by the sculptor Horace Daillion in the center of the cemetary14092017-IMG_9758

Le Baiser : by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi


Sculpture by Brancusi (“The Kiss”)

Pigeon Charles’s grave (1838 – 1915) : French inventor of a non-exploding gas lamp. Born in France in Normandy. A life size figures of Mr and Mrs Pigeon (fully clothed) lying in a bed. The bed forms the grave . 


The grave features Mr and Mrs Pigeon long on their bed

Some of the illustrious personalities (buried in Montparnasse cemetery)

Baudelaire (1821 – 1867): French poet born in Paris where he lived most of his life.  buried with his mother and step-father. Also a cenothaph dedicated to the poet.


Baudelaire’s grave

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre :  leading figures of the Existentialist literary movement are buried together. Simone de Beauvoir (1907 – 1986) was a French writer, philosopher, and feminist. Best known for her work “The second Sex” (1949) which contained detailed analysis of women’s oppression. Jean Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980) was French writer, philosopher and critic. Best known for his writing : “Being and Nothingness”. He believed in the fundamental freedom of human beings and reflected ont the unbearable nature of that freedom. Major works : Nausea, Being and Nothingness (1943), the Words (1964)


Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’s grave

Susan Sontag (1933 – 2004) : American author born in Manhattan. One of her more famous books was “Illness as Metaphor” (1978)08092017-IMG_9722


Chaïm Soutine (1893 – 1943) : Painter, born in Lithuania. He moved to Paris in 1911 and settled in Montparnasse district; He became famous after years of poverty in 1823 when Paul Barnes, a wealthy American cnollector bought 60 of his paintings at once. . He became known for his portraits of working-class people, still lifes and landscapes. As a Jew, at the start of WWII, he fled the Nazi occupation of France


Chaïm Soutine

Zadkine Ossip (1890 – 1967): Russian-born sculptor. There is a Museum dedicated to Zadkine’s work of art located in Montparnasse. This was the house and workshop where Ossip Zadkine major figure in the School of Paris, lived and worked from 1928 to 1967.  Zadkine Museum: 100 bis rue d’Assas – Paris 6


Man Ray (1890 – 1976) : Artist born in USA especially known as a photographer. He is acknowledged as one of the masters of the 20th century. He moved to Paris in 1921. He immortalized in many famous photographs the model Kiki de Montparnasse with who. In 1940 Ray fled the Nazi invasion and went to California. He returned to Paris in 1951


Man Ray

Marguerite Duras (1914 – 1996) :  French writer and film director, best known for her novel “The lover” (Prix Goncourt – 1984), which was made into a movie.


Marguerite Duras

Guy de Maupassant (1850 – 1893) :  French writer. He is considered one of the world’s great short-story writers. He wrote novels too. One of the best known : “Bel Ami”21092017-IMG_9922

Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989): Irish Author, Playwright. novelist who spent most of his life in Paris (Paris 14), from 1937 and wrote in French after 1945 His best known work is the play “Waiting for Godot”08092017-IMG_9724

Ionesco Eugène (1912 – 1994) : French playwright. Known for his contribution to the theater of the absiurd. Two of his plays are  shown at the Theatre de la Huchette in Paris since 1957 without any interruption !. (“The Bald Soprano” and “The lesson”)

Antoine Bourdelle : (1861 – 1929) : French sculptor. One of the Pioneers of 20th century monumental sculpture. His home and studio where Antoine Bourdelle has been working from 1885 to 1929 is located 19 rue Antoine Bourdelle – Paris 15, and can be visited. 27092017-IMG_0017

Constantin Brancusi : (1876 – 1957) : Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer who made his career in France. He is considered as a pioneer of modernism and one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, 14092017-IMG_9780

Brassaï (1899 – 1984) : Hungarian photojournalist, portraitist. He moved to Paris in 1918 and fell in love with the city. Hi is renowned for his photographic chronicles of the night.08092017-IMG_9720

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834 – 1904) : French sculptor most renowned for the Statue of Liberty. He designed his own grave.27092017-IMG_9994

César Baldaccini (1921 – 1998) : French sculptor, better known simply as César. He was at the forefront of the  Nouveau Réalisme movement with his radical compressions (compacted automobiles, discarded metal, or rubbish), expansions (polyurethane foam sculptures), and fantastic representations of animals and insects.14092017-IMG_9762

Camille Saint Saëns, (1835 – 1921) : composer, leading representative of French Romantic music. His most popular piece is “The Carnival of the Animals” (1886)

Jacques demy, Eric Rohmer, Claude Sautet, filmmakers

Serge gainsbourg (1928 – 1991) : Songwriter, singer and film maker : one of the most visited graves in Montparnasse. His grave is often covered with different objects which are references to some of his songs : a cabbage (for his LP called “L’homme à la tête de chou”, a metro ticket for his song called “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas”, or cigarettes’ buts because he was smoking a lot and also wrote a song called “Dieu est un fumeur de Havane”.14092017-IMG_9756

Jean Seberg, (1938 – 1979) :  American actress who played in “Breathless” (1959) (director Jean-Luc Godard). 27092017-IMG_0005




Even with the help of a map, it’s quite difficult to find the graves you’re looking for. Don’t hesitate to contact me : A visit of Montparnasse cemetery can be included (or added) in the Montparnasse walking tour (= “The Roaring 20’s ) Share my Paris, the Paris I love. I welcome you, I accompany you and we walk at your pace. Half a day or a whole day with a native including a break in a very Parisian cafe. It’s a cross cultural experience in Paris and a way to see Paris in a Parisian perspective.

Ann Jeanne in Paris’ private tours are designed for one or two persons. A friendly and personal experience of Paris. I was born and raised in Paris. Paris is city where I live.


More details about Ann Jeanne Paris tours Don’t hesitate to contact me

And  : Some details about the booking and pricing 


More photos of Montparnasse Cemetery



Practical details : Montparnasse cemetery : 3 boulevard Edgard Quinet – Paris 14  Metro stop : Edgard Quinet or Raspail. Main entrance : Boulevard Edgar Quinet – Opening Hours : March to November : 8.30 to 6pm (Sunday : 9am) November to March : 8 to 5.30pm (Sunday : 9am) profil-paris-avec-oiseaux