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 th ...
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 ...
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

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 kilo ...
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

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

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

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

Madeleine Dolmen

Dolmen de la Madeleine is an isolated dolmen located in a private field on the outskirts of the town of Gennes. It was probably built between 5 000-2 000 BC. There are a number of these sites in the area - but this one is said to be the largest. Like many of the larger dolmens, it has subsequently been re-used, in this case to house a bread oven. Although the bread oven is no longer in use as the dolmen is now a classifie ...
Founded: 5000-2000 BC | Location: Gennes, France

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial

The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is a 52.8 ha World War I cemetery in France. The cemetery contains the largest number of American military dead in Europe (14,246), most of whom lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and were buried there. The cemetery consists of eight sections behind a large central reflection pool. Beyond the grave sections is a chapel which is decorated with stained glass ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France

Champigny-St. André War Cemetery

The German war cemetery Champigny-St. André contains 19,809 German graves from the World War II. There is also a mass grave with 816 casualties. Of these, 303 are identified. They were brought together to this cemetery from the regions Eure, Orne, Seine-Maritime, Eure-et-Loire and Seine-et-Oisne.
Founded: 1944 | Location: Champigny-la-Futelaye, France

Dolmen de Bagneux

The famous Dolmen in Bagneux is probably one of the most majestic French dolmens and the largest of the 4,500 dolmens spread out on about 60 French departments.The overall length of this dolmen is over 23 meters (75 feet) and its chamber is over 18 meters (60 feet) long. As all dolmens, the 'Great Covered stone" in Bagneux, was a large chamber tomb which must have contained a great number of prehistoric skeletons during t ...
Founded: 4000-2000 BC | Location: Saumur, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.