The second largest cemetery in Paris (after Père Lachaise), the Cimitère du Montparnasse covers nearly 50 acres and contains roughly 40 000 graves. Lined with trees, the cemetery’s large alleys provide quiet grounds for a Sunday stroll that’s perfect for history lovers. Indeed, many French and foreign intellectuals and artists are buried here, including Charles Baudelaire, Jean Seberg, Serge Gainsbourg, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, and Eugene Ionesco to name but a few.
While walking among the artfully decorated tombstones and funeral monuments, search for ‘the Cat’, a five-foot-tall colorful mosaic statue that Nicki de Saint Phalle crafted for her late assistant and friend Ricardo Menon. And look for the big fish sculpture which sits atop an anonymous grave with a mysterious epitaph. Or simply find the right perspective to admire the flowery landscape with the Montparnasse Tower in the background, darkly overlooking the whole area.
Take some time to wander around and visit both parts of the cemetery – it’s actually split in two by the Rue Émile-Richard – and if you feel like livening things up afterward, you’re only a five-minute walk from the bustling Boulevard Montparnasse or the lively Rue de la Gaité (Gaiety Street!) and its many theaters. If you’re in a more macabre mood, you can always head over to the Catacombs of Paris instead, also just five minutes away!