A Stroll through Montparnasse Cemetery

The famous cemetery in Paris is Père Lachaise, the largest in the city limits and the final resting place for Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, among others. I didn’t make it out there on my recent trip to Paris, but I did visit Montparnasse Cemetery, which is about a 20-minute walk from Luxembourg Gardens, in the 14th arrondisement. It’s split into neat sections by broad avenues, and the whole thing is surrounded by a tall wall, so it’s a nice little respite from the bustle of the city outside.

My friends and I tried to reconcile the two maps provided, which used different labeling systems, and in the end we managed to visit each of the graves we’d hoped to see. We went through and paid homage to some great artists.

montparnasse cemetery paris

Man Ray (it reads ‘unconcerned, but not indifferent’ — quite a way to look at your own death)

montparnasse cemetery paris

Charles Baudelaire (yes, people left flowers, notes, and poems)

montparnasse cemetery paris

Samuel Beckett (so plain a tombstone that it took us several passes to find it)

montparnasse cemetery paris

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (I was surprised to find them sharing a grave, although I don’t know why that would be)

And then I witnessed possibly the most French thing ever: two men drank beers and played Serge Gainsbourg songs next to his grave, the quiet guitar and plaintive accordion echoing through the quiet cemetery on a Friday afternoon.

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