With Paris' long history and long list of renowned residents, it's no surprise that cemeteries are among its top attractions. Here are four where you can take a quiet walk, see the tomb of your favorite writer, or even explore a maze of bones.
Paris Catacombs (Les Catacombes)
In a labyrinth of tunnels 135 feet (20 meters) underground, the Paris Catacombs are home to the remains of millions of Parisians, transferred here from cemeteries around the city starting in the late 1700s.
How to Visit: Set in the 14th arrondissement, the Catacombs aren’t far from Montparnasse Cemetery, making it easy to visit both. Visitors are limited to 200 at a time at the Catacombs and the line can get long, so book a skip-the-line tour to avoid the queue.
Père-Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Pere-Lachaise)
The largest cemetery in Paris, Père-Lachaise is a major destination due to its ornamental tombs and famous "inhabitants," such as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Marcel Proust. It's also known for its garden-style design, making it a popular place for a peaceful stroll.
How to Visit: Père-Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement, near the city's eastern edge. You can explore on your own, but at 110 acres (44 hectares) and with more than 70,000 plots, the cemetery can be hard to navigate. By booking a walking tour—either private or small-group—you'll gain insight from a guide about the history and tombs.
Montparnasse Cemetery (Cimetière Montparnasse)
Dating back to 1824, Montparnasse Cemetery is the second-largest grave site in Paris at 47 acres (19 hectares). It's known as the eternal home of musical and literary figures such as Serge Gainsbourg, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Charles Baudelaire.
How to Visit: In the 14th arrondissement, the cemetery is located just southeast of Montparnasse Tower, making it easy to visit when you're in this neighborhood. From the Metro, get off at the Raspail station. You may enter and wander at your leisure, or book a private Paris sightseeing tour with the option to customize your itinerary. This gives you the opportunity to explore the cemetery with a knowledgeable guide.
Montmartre Cemetery (Cimetière de Montmartre)
Paris' third-largest cemetery opened in 1825 in the hilly, bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre. Its notable burials include Edgar Degas, Emile Zola (his original burial), and Gustave Moreau.
How to Visit: Head to the 18th arrondissement to explore the cemetery's 27 acres (11 hectares) on your own, or book a Montmartre walking tour to combine a stop at the cemetery with the rest of the neighborhood's historical sights, seeing it all with a guide who can provide insight and tips.