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Picpus Cemetery :: Paris 2013

Picpus Cemetery

Photo Credit: Hyacinth McKinley

Welcome to the Picpus Cemetery Site. Picpus is the only private cemetery in the city of Paris, and home to a great deal of history. Although most famous for the cemetery’s involvement in the French Revolution, remnants of World War II also feature prominently in Picpus today. Below, you will find a map of the layout of Picpus, as well as videos that give a virtual tour of the grounds today. Please enjoy exploring the other pages for a more in depth look at the history of Picpus, its function as a place of memory, and as the final resting place of the Marquis de Lafayette.

The History of Picpus

 Picpus and the French Revolution

The Marquis and the Marquise de Lafayette

Contested Memories of the German Occupation at Picpus

The Modern Picpus Cemetery


Photo Credits (moving clockwise and down) : Wikipedia, www.americanisfrance.net, Google Images, www.pariscemeteries.com, Hyacinth McKinley, Hyacinth McKinley

                        Map Photo Credit: Luke Terna

A Virtual Tour of the Picpus Cemetery

Click on the links listed below to find videos corresponding to specific places and events in the history of Picpus Cemetery.

Saint Michael

Picpus Cemetery


The Chapel

The Gate


Mass Grave

Picpus Cemetery Trivia

Did you know that…

An iconic cover image of Victor Hugo’s landmark Les Miserables. A powerhouse in high schools and stages alike, this book was most recently adapted into film last year.                                                                 Photo Credit: Wikipeda


… As a city with an indescribable magnetic pull, Paris has captivated the minds of writers for centuries. Did you know that the most famous character to come out of Paris actually crossed paths with Picpus Cemetery?  Jean Valjean  is  very briefly mentioned to have served a stint at Maison Coignard, the prison located on the grounds during the Revolution, in Victor Hugo’s Les Misarables.

A key player in the tide-turning battle at Yorktown, General Lafayette and his wife have been laid to rest at Picpus.                                                       Photo Credit: Wikipedia

One of the writers of this site has a very personal connection to one of the most famous people resting in Picpus Cemetery. General Lafayette played a key role in America’s victory in the Revolutionary War and chose to be buried at Picpus. Samantha Sisler is a Daughter of the American Revolution, meaning that she is directly related to someone involved in the American Revolution. Visit her page ( The Marquis and Marquise Lafayette) to learn more about their shared  ties to this site.

Famous for his explicit writings and political views, Marquis de Sade spent a short stint at Maison Coignard.                                                                                                        Photo Credit: Wikipedia

… The grounds of the cemetery have served a number of purposes over the years. During the French Revolution, it actually housed a small prison that became famous for whips and chains, but not for the reason that you would think. Donatien-Alphonse-François, also known as the Marquis de Sade, was imprisoned here for his infamous writings and controversial political views.

The Terror was one of the bloodiest periods in the history of France. 1306 victims of this regime are found at Picpus. The chapel located on the grounds today has two plaques, listing the names, ages, and occupations of the executed.                                            Photo Credit: www.bonjourparis.com

… Of the over 1300 victims of the Terror who found their final resting place in the mass graves at Picpus, a subset of 16 nuns might be the reason behind the eerie silence that hangs there. Legend has it that these nuns, the oldest of whom was 78 years old, sang hymns while awaiting their execution. Their songs of heavenly praise were regularly punctuated by the fall of the guillotine, but they kept singing down to the very last one.  

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