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Discover one of the world’s oldest dog cemeteries, the Cimetière des Chiens

Where every step you take opens up a new story...


12:30 - 05 November 2023


Author: S.Zs.


Category: Lifestyle




Wondering in the suburbs of Paris, there is one peculiar place to see for dog lovers: one of the oldest pet cemeteries of the world can be found here. Though it has lost some of its size and splendour over time, paying a visit to this special place will soon leave you perplexed.



Paris, the city of love and romance, gives home to some of the greatest historical monuments, reminding us of such famous names, as Chopin, Balzac, Modigliani, Proust, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf. Walking on the streets of the downtown is like taking a huge leap back in time, combined with the modern, luxury style – just think of the fashion boutiques – is an enchanting experience you will never forget. And if you love dogs as much as we do, a trip to the outskirts must be added to your journey: a visit a place where man’s best and most loyal friends are remembered forever.

 

The Cimetière des Chiens on a contemporary postcard
The Cimetière des Chiens on a contemporary postcard 
Photo Credit: bonjourparis.com

 

The Cimetière des Chiens pet cemetery was established in 1899 by lawyer Georges Harmois and journalist Marguerite Durand. The cemetery was registered as a national monument in 1987. Unfortunately, the number of visitors is continuously decreasing.

 

The foundation story of the Cimetière des Chiens is less romantic as we would imagine at first hearing. At the end of the 19th century a new law was adopted in Paris: animal corps could no longer be thrown out on the streets or in the Seine.  Earlier it was a common thing for owners to place the animals’ dead bodies in the trash or scatter the ashes near the Medici Fountain. The lawyer-journalist couple has grabbed the exceptional opportunity to establish a cemetery for pets.  

 

In memory of a beloved pet
In memory of a beloved pet
Photo Credit: Theadora Brack

 

The idea received dry reception in the beginning. A journalist wrote an article on it after paying a visit to the pet cemetery: ’The Parisian Dog Cemetery is far from success.’ Following the rough start, the place had slowly gained wide recognition: more than 4000 pets were buried here in the first eight years. By 1934 this number reached an incredible 20.000.  

 

The Cimetière des Chiens has become so popular among pet owners and curious visitors, that the proprietors decided to print and sell postcards depicting certain parts of the cemetery. Co-founder, Marguerite Durand had also published advertisements in her own feminist paper. More and more animal lovers, travellers, pilgrims and even princesses paid their duties to the place from all over the world.

 

Cimetière des Chiens - Main entrance
Cimetière des Chiens - Main entrance
Photo Credit: bonjourparis.com

 

Visitors are fascinated with a new story at every turn. Today, approximately 40.000 pets lie in the graves here. Entering the beautiful Sesessionist-style gate designed by Eugene Petit, we are immediately welcomed by a monumental sculpture of a St. Bernard. According to the inscription, it commemorates Barry, the hero dog, who saved the lives of 40 people in 1812 in a devastating snowstorm raging in the Alps from Switzerland to Italy. Barry died saving the 41st victim.

 

Canine hero - Barry, the Saint-Bernard saved the lives of 40 people during a heavy snowstorm
Canine hero - Barry, the Saint-Bernard saved the lives of 40 people during a heavy snowstorm
Photo Credit: Theadora Brack

 

Progressing further in, we can find the graves of thousands of beloved pets, not only dogs and cats, but also rabbits, hamsters, parrots, horses and even monkeys, turtles, foxes and sheep. Nevertheless, the most astonishing grave could be that of a shark. Famous and heroic dogs are also buried here like Rin Tin Tin, who gave inspiration to the popular movies, lying not far from Dolly, who served the army during the the Second World War.

 

Cimetière des Chiens – Statue of a dog
Cimetière des Chiens – Statue of a dog
Photo Credit: Theadora Brack

 

The Parisian Dog Cemetery is probably one of the most extraordinary places in the world. It’s interesting, impressive and heartwarming at the same time, as the late owners commemorated their beloved pet companions. Heroes, smaller and larger two- and four-legged friends hiding secrets of pet owners will always be remembered here. Forever.

 

If you are a dog lover planning to visit Paris, do not miss this place.

 

Little Bibi’s grave
Little Bibi’s grave
Photo Credit: Theadora Brack

 

Not only dogs and cats are buried here
Not only dogs and cats are buried here
Photo Credit: Theadora Brack

 

Source: bonjourparis.com
Index image source: Theadora Brack - bonjourparis.com

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