If you’re looking for an unusual place to visit on a sunny afternoon in Paris, then you need look no further than Paris Pet cemetery (or cimetière des chiens in French- literally ‘dog cemetery’). Spending an afternoon visiting a cemetery doesn’t seem like the most thrilling thing to do. In fact, if I’m honest, it probably sounds pretty macabre. But the Paris Pet Cemetery is where treasured pets and work dogs have been laid to rest for over a century. And lying on the banks of the Seine, it’s in a very serene location…
Humans have always held a fascination with mourning their furry (and scaled) animal counterparts. As far back as Ancient Egyptian times, cats were regularly mummified and buried. However, pet cemeteries, as we know them today, didn’t become really popular until the Victorian era (i.e. around the late 1800s). The largest pet cemetery in the World, Hartsdale, New York was founded around this time and today contains the remains of more than 70,000 animals- woah!
Paris has long been known for its hauntingly beautiful cemeteries; with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrisson and Edith Piaf all finding their final resting places within the Paris peripherique. But what is little known, is that the world’s oldest public pet cemetery, lies a little outside Paris- less than half an hour by metro. Situated in Asnières-Sur-Seine, the Paris Pet Cemetery was founded in 1898.
Although many might believe that the cemetery was started for sentimental reasons, it was actually founded for health ones. In 1898, a law was passed that meant that Parisians were no longer allowed to bury their pets wherever they liked. People were even just throwing their bodies away in the garbage or discarding them in the Seine! The new law dictated that animals had to be buried at least 100m away from housing and under at least 1m of earth. And thus, the Paris Pet Cemetery was born.
Paris Pet Cemetery
Even though the narrow landscaped cemetery is called a ‘dog cemetery‘, it is filled with all sorts of other pets and domesticated animals. From cats to a monkey, to a horse to a chicken and even a fish, there’s over 40,000 animals interred in this peaceful location. Notable animals buried here include a dog that was a Hollywood movie star in his own right (Rin Tin Tin) and the pet lion of an early feminist. A well-known racehorse and a sheep also reside here.
What’s most surprising, is probably the fact that the cemetery looks very much like the ones intended for people (aside from the fact that everything is in miniature). There’s even a cat mausoleum at the very end of the graveyard. Since 1987, the Paris pet cemetery has been declared a national monument. Today, pets are still interred there. It’s also open for visitors to visit and is easily one of the most unusual activities to do in Paris.
Cimetière des Chiens in Pictures
If you’re looking for other unusual things to do in Paris, then check out my offbeat Paris archives.
Nearest metro: Gabriel Péri (metro line 13)
Price: Adult: €3.50/ Child (under 12): €1.50
All prices and times are listed on their Official website.