For Tombstone Tourists

The three principal cemeteries in Paris – Père Lachaise, Montmartre and Montparnasse – see large numbers of tombstone tourists, but few people venture out to the other smaller burial grounds in the city. A look in photos at one of these, the cimetière de la Villette.

Like the majority of cemeteries in Paris, the La Villette graveyard was originally created to serve the needs of a small village community on the outskirts of Paris. The cemetery we see today is actually the fourth one in this particular village, the growing suburb having quickly filled the other three (which were all abandoned then built over).

The La Villette cemetery is not picturesque but it is atmospheric. There are few visitors and fewer mourners, the majority of plots having been ceded in perpetuity a century or so ago. Today  the tombs are monuments to forgotten families, people who were born in a village and died in a city – without ever having moved home.

If there are few visitors it is perhaps due to a lack of celebrity residents. In cemeteries – like everywhere else – people want stars, but here everyone is anonymous. Look carefully though and you’ll find plenty of stories, as the Pieton de Paris points out.

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