Well-hidden in Paris 12th arrondissement, Picpus cemetery is a peculiar place in many ways. First of all, it’s one of the two private cemeteries in the capital along with the Portuguese Jews cemetery. Then, not just anyone is allowed in: this very particular cemetery only houses the bodies of people who have been guillotined during the Reign of Terror as well as their descendants’.
As you might suspect it, this cemetery represents a very dark era of Paris history. At the origin, it was the garden of the convent of the Chanoinesses de St-Augustin and its inhabitants have been chased down during the Reign of Terror. Later, mass graves have been dug to bury the bodies of the victims who succumbed to guillotine. The latter used to be set on the Place de la Concorde we used to call the Place de la Révolution, then on the Place de la Bastille before working on the Place de l’Île de la Réunion, that used to be called Place du Trône Renversé. In over a month, no fewer than 1,3000 people have been beheaded.
Today, gravel areas show the spot of the mass graves while, near the heart of the Chapel, we find the names of the 1,300 victims resting in there, graved on two marble slabs. Since then, descendants have joined them, and we find the last house of some illustrious characters such as General Lafayette. You can visit Picpus cemetery on the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday. The access is charged: €2 per person.
Cimetière de Picpus
35 Rue de Picpus
75012 Paris 12
Métro Picpus (ligne 6)