Montmartre Cemetery, Paris

The Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris

Degas, Offenbach, Truffaut, Dumas, Stendhal, Emile Zola, Gustav Moreau, Heinrich Heine, Delibes, Foucault, and Berlioz all rest in peace at the Montmartre cemetery, spreading over 11 hectares.

The cemetery opened officially in 1825, but it occupies the site of an existing potter's field—essentially an old gypsum mine pit (limestone dust produced in Montmartre gave us the term "plaster of Paris") into which were tossed the bodies from both sides of the assault on the Louvre at the Tuileries Gardens on August 10, 1792.

On that day, an army of more than 20,000 Revolutionary commoners (and many National Guard who decided to switch sides) marched on the palace. They were briefly held at bay by the king's private army of Swiss Guards while Louis XVI fled, but soon thereafter the rioters took the palace—whereupon they massacred more than 600 of the defending Swiss Guards.

The bodies of those Swiss mercenaries, and of the commoners who died in the attack, were all buried together in this pit. Three days after the fighting, Louis XVI was arrested. Within six weeks, the Legislative Assembly was dissolved, the French monarchy was abolished, and the revolution had won. Four months later, Louis XVI had his date with the guillotine.

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The grave of Emile Zola in Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.
The grave of French writer Emile Zola (1840-1902) in Montmartre Cemetery.

Emile Zola

 

 

The family tomb of the de Gas family—including the mortal remains of artist Edgar Degas—in Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.
The family tomb of the de Gas family—including the mortal remains of artist Edgar Degas (1834–1917)—in Montmartre Cemetery. (Photo by Albachiara)

Edgar Degas - Self Portrait