Paris is a fashionable city that is known for its art, culture and fashion. It’s a city people have on their list of places to visit and somewhere that many people go to feel alive.
Conversely, it is also a city that a lot of people want to be laid to rest in and such is the wont of many celebrities. Because of this, the cemeteries in Paris are full of famous names and famous gravestones that they themselves have become tourist attractions. Montparnasse Cemetery is the final resting place of some famous French writers and thinkers such as Jean Paul Sartre and Charles Baudelaire while Pere Lachaise Cemetery houses some more internationally renowned men such as Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Frederic Chopin.
Of course, in a city that is reported to have more dogs than people, it would be strange to only have cemeteries for humans. The Cimetiere des Chiens – Paris’ Pet Cemetery – sees to this.
Opened in 1899, the cemetery is thought to be the first of its kind although there are now several pet cemeteries worldwide. It was built as a reaction to a new law brought in stating that owners were no longer allowed to throw away their pets with their household rubbish or dump them in the River Seine. Since its opening there have been more than 40,000 animals buried in this cemetery and although it is called the cemetery of dogs, all sorts of pets – including monkeys, lions and fish – have been buried there.
Like many cemeteries in Paris, this one, too, has a celebrity resident. Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd dog who was a film star in the 1920s – the 1923 film ‘Where The North Begins’ that he co-starred in alongside Claire Adams is often credited as saving Warner Bros from bankruptcy – is the star attraction of the Cimitiere des Chiens. Following the success of Rin Tin Tin, he was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and there were several other German Shepherds starring in films in the following years.
As well as the dead, the living animals roam the cemetery as well. Stray cats – with their own cat house at the back of the grounds – wander the area and visitors are permitted to bring their live dogs, so long as they are kept on a leash.
The cemetery lies just outside Paris in the suburb of Asnieres-sur-Seine. So while it is a small trip away from the bulk of the Paris hotels, the Metro line goes near the suburb and is just a short walk along the river from the Metro stop at Marie de Clichy.