Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in France

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris city. The cemetery takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. The property, situated on the hillside from which the king watched skirmishing between the Condé and Turenne during the Fronde, was bought by the city in 1 ...
Founded: 1804 | Location: Paris, France

Catacombs of Paris

The origin of the Paris Catacombs, which it would be better to call “Municipal Ossuary”, goes back to the end of the 18th century. The Cemetery of the Innocents (near Saint-Eustache, in the area of Les Halles) had been in use for nearly ten centuries and had become a source of infection for the inhabitants of the locality. After numerous complaints, the Council of State decided, on November 9th 1785, to prohib ...
Founded: 1786 | Location: Paris, France

Montparnasse Cemetery

Montparnasse Cemetery was created from three farms in 1824. Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the closure, owing to health concerns, of the Cimetière des Innocents in 1786. Several new cemeteries outside the precincts of the capital replaced all the internal Parisian ones in the early 19th century: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise Cemetery in the east, and Montparnasse Cemetery in the south. At ...
Founded: 1824 | Location: Paris, France

Cimetière du Château

The graveyard at Cimetière du Château, which was founded in 1783, has 2,800 graves, where some of Nice's most famous people lie buried. The cemetery stands on the old citadel of Nice. Even today, some sections of the massive walls of the ancient fortress remain. The fortress, which was built in the 16th century, was once one of the most secure strongholds in France. The cemetery is as much popular for its function and ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Nice, France

American Cemetery and Memorial

On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site. Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France

La Cambe War Cemetery

La Cambe military war grave cemetery contains of 21,000 German military personnel of World War II. It is maintained and managed by the German War Graves Commission. La Cambe was originally the site of a battlefield cemetery, established by the United States Army Graves Registration Service during the war, where American and German soldiers, sailors and airmen were buried in two adjacent fields. After the war had ended on ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: La Cambe, France

Bayeux War Cemetery

The Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Second World War cemetery of Commonwealth soldiers in France. The cemetery contains 4,648 burials, mostly of the Invasion of Normandy. Opposite this cemetery stands the Bayeux Memorial which commemorates 1,808 casualties of the Commonwealth forces who died in Normandy and have no known grave. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by France in recogni ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Bayeux, France

Notre Dame de Lorette

Notre Dame de Lorette, also known as Ablain St.-Nazaire French Military Cemetery, is the world"s largest French military cemetery. It is the name of a ridge, basilica, and French national cemetery northwest of Arras at the village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire. The high point of the hump-backed ridge stands 165 metres high and - with Vimy Ridge - utterly dominates the otherwise flat Douai plain and the town of Arras. The ...
Founded: 1914 | Location: Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France

Pozières Memorial

The Pozières Memorial is a World War I memorial, located near the commune of Pozières, and unveiled in August 1930. It lists the names of 14,657 British and South African soldiers of the Fifth and Fourth Armies with no known grave who were killed between 21 March 1918 and 7 August 1918, during the German advance known as the Spring Offensive, and the period of Allied consolidation and recovery that followed. The final d ...
Founded: 1930 | Location: Pozières, France

Douaumont Ossuary

The Douaumont ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun in World War I. During the 300 days of the Battle of Verdun (1916) approximately 230,000 men died out here. The battle became known in German as Die Hölle von Verdun (The Hell of Verdun), or in French as L'Enfer de Verdun, and was conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometer ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Douaumont, France

Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery

The French handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 during the World War I and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917. The Commonwealth section of the Faubourg d"Amiens Cemetery was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulan ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Arras, France

Collegiate Church of Saint-Vulfran

The Collegiate Church of Saint-Vulfran in Abbeville is built in a Flamboyant Gothic style. The construction of the church was started on 7 June 1488. From 31 August it was clear that funding would be an issue and thus the construction was ceased for some time. On 4 April 1520 Jean Crétel of Tours-en-Vimeu was commissioned to lead the work. The nave would be under construction until 1539. Construction resumed 120 years la ...
Founded: 1488 | Location: Abbeville, France

Ranville War Cemetery

Ranville was the first village to be liberated in France when the bridge over the Caen Canal was captured intact in the early hours of 6 June, 1944 by troops of the 6th Airborne Division, who were landed nearby by parachute and glider. Many of the division"s casualties are buried in Ranville War Cemetery and the adjoining churchyard. The cemetery contains 2,235 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 97 of them ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Ranville, France

Australian National Memorial

The Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux is the main memorial to Australian military personnel killed on the Western Front during World War I. It is located on the Route Villiers-Bretonneux (D 23), between the towns of Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux. The memorial lists 10,773 names of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force with no known grave who were killed between 1916, when Australian forces arrived i ...
Founded: 1938 | Location: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Bény-sur-Mer War Cemetery

Bény-sur-Mer was created as a permanent resting place for Canadian soldiers who had been temporarily interred in smaller plots close to where they fell. As is usual for war cemeteries or monuments, France granted Canada a perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery. The graves contain soldiers from the Canadian 3rd Division and 15 Airmen killed in the Battle of Normandy. The cemetery also includes fou ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Reviers, France

Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial

The Brittany American Cemetery is one of fourteen permanent American World War II military cemetery memorials erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission on foreign soil. The site was liberated on 2 August 1944 by the 8th Infantry Division; a temporary military cemetery was established on it three days later. After the war, when the temporary cemeteries were being disestablished by the American Graves Registration ...
Founded: 1944 | Location: Montjoie-Saint-Martin, France

Somme American Cemetery and Memorial

The 14.3-acre (58,000 m2) Somme American Cemetery and Memorial is a war cemetery established in October 1918 on ground which saw heavy fighting just before and during the Battle of St Quentin Canal. It contains the graves of 1,844 of the United States" military dead from World War I. Most lost their lives in the assault on the Hindenburg Line while serving in American II Corps attached to the British Fourth Army. Oth ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Bony, France

Mont-de-Huisnes War Cemetery

The German war cemetery (Kriegsgräberstätte) of Mont-de-Huisnes is different from ther cemeteries because the casualties are brought together in chambers, 180 casualties in each chamber. The chambers form a circle which is about 47 metres wide.The cemetery contains 11,956 war graves.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Huisnes-sur-Mer, France

The Royal Chapel of Dreux

The Royal Chapel of Dreux (Chapelle royale de Dreux) is the traditional burial place of members of the House of Orléans. In the 1770s, the Duke of Penthièvre was one of the greatest land owner in France prior to the French Revolution. In 1775, the lands of the county of Dreux had been given to the Penthièvre by his cousin King Louis XVI. In 1783, the Duke sold his domain of Rambouillet to Louis XVI. ...
Founded: 1816 | Location: Dreux, France

St. Michel Tumulus

The Tumulus of St. Michel is a megalithic grave mound, located east of Carnac. The 125m long, 60m wide and 10m high mound is the largest grave mound in continental Europe. The age of the monument, and the chronology of the construction of the central burial-chambers and outlying dolmen have been the subject of much speculation. Ancient samples were radiocarbon dated, but the results were too disparate to be significant. R ...
Founded: 4500 BC | Location: Carnac, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.

Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.

Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.

The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.