What do you know about the smallest cemetery in Paris, the Cimetière du Calvaire? Have you visited?
Hidden behind a massive bronze door, this cemetery is only open one day a year… so it’s surely the most secret Paris cemetery too.
This week on the Earful Tower podcast Eric Lejoindre, the mayor of the 18th arrondissement, takes us inside this beautiful and peaceful cemetery to find out more.
But first: What is the Cimetière du Calvaire?
This 85 grave cemetery, also known as the cimetière de Saint-Pierre-du-Calvaire, is right next to the Saint-Pierre de Montmartre church and only a few steps away from the famed Sacré-Cœur basilica. In other words, it’s right at the very top of the hill, the highest soil in Paris.
The cemetery is only open to the public on November 1st, when curious locals tend to trickle through for a quick look at this mysterious corner of Paris.
Some say it’s the oldest cemetery in Paris, as it was founded in 1133, but it has been destroyed and remade over the ages, so the jury is out on this one.
Inside are the tombs of prominent local families, the grass has been left untended, and many of the tombstones have been weathered by the years.
However, it’s also fascinating. It’s an oasis of peace next to one of the busiest tourist destinations in Europe. You can find graves of past mayors, powerful Parisian families, and even the family tomb of a certain monsieur Debray, who was behind some of the most famous windmills that still stand in Montmartre (his tomb has a small windmill on the top).
The Earful Tower podcast episode
Click play to listen to Monsieur Le Maire Eric Lejoindre leading us through the cemetery and the nearby Calvary. The priest of the church, Alexandre Denis, also features on the episode. (You can also find this podcast episode on Spotify, iTunes, Android… and everywhere else you find podcasts.
Behind the scenes at the cemetery
A closer look at the cemetery
In the coming days we’ll share even more of our pics from the cemetery, both here on the website and on social media.
Practical details: How to get to the cemetery
You can find this cemetery between Sacré-Cœur and the quaint artist square Place du Tertre. The Saint-Pierre de Montmartre church is open for visits from Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-12pm and 3pm-6pm. The cemetery is only open to the public on the 1st of November, for All Saints day. Note: It’s sometimes open for heritage days too. Address: 2 Rue du Mont-Cenis, 75018
Metro: Line 2 Anvers, Line 12 Abbesses or Lamarck – Caulaincourt
Bus: 30 Pigalle
That’s it for now!
A big thanks to Augusta Sagnelli for the wonderful photos.
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