One of the oldest pet cemeteries in the world is in Paris, and I knew that I had to visit it on this trip. Le Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques is located just outside of Paris along the banks of the Seine – it really is an idyllic location for all of the loved animals remembered by their humans.
Getting there was a bit problematic for me as my phone was useless so I had to rely on good old fashioned maps and common sense. As it turned out, it was about a 15-20 minute walk from the metro station, but once I knew where I was going it was easy to find. There is big beautiful gate at the cemetery, but you have to go to the right and enter by the doorway there.
This is one cemetery that you have to pay to enter (3.50 euros), but as it goes towards the upkeep I didn’t mind paying for it. At the very front of the cemetery, right behind the gate, is a memorial to a St. Bernard who saved 41 people (he died saving the 41st). The cemetery isn’t very wide, but it’s long and narrow, and behind this monument are much smaller and more intimate memorials to many a dog, cat, bird, hamster, monkey, horse, and other animals.
Most of the monuments are smaller versions of simple headstones that one would find in a human cemetery, some have both date of birth and death for the pets, and often there is a small inscription about the animal and/or the human’s feelings towards it. I found it really moving to walk past these simple gravestones in honour of pets who so deeply touched people’s lives. Most of the animals were simple pets, but others served in wars or with the police, and there is one movie star: Rin Tin Tin. After he died he was brought back here to Paris to be buried in this cemetery.
The sad thing when I was here was that it was very much a working cemetery. One grave was being dug when I was there, and two burials were happening as well. One was just outside the main cemetery in a new section, and the other was done by a middle-aged couple who were burying their family pet (very near to Rin Tin Tin’s grave). I felt just as awkward as when I came across burials in regular cemeteries, but at the same time, it was nice to see that this cemetery is still very much in use today.
Quality of Monuments: Mixed. Most are quite simple, although there are some statues, some professionally done, some not, of the deceased. Many feature photos of the pet and some of the sites are covered in flowers and other knickknacks, very similar to what you find in any other cemetery.
Cemetery Grounds: The cemetery is long and narrow, and mostly flat. It lies on the bank of the Seine, so the location is quite idyllic. This is an easy cemetery to visit. Some of the rows veer off into the bushes, but generally speaking you can walk up and down the rows to look at all the monuments. You get a really good map of the cemetery and it’s residents when you enter.
Visitors: I was the only visitor, and other than one mourner, the few other people there were burying a pet.
Photographer notes: While the boundaries of the cemetery are lined with trees, it’s mostly open in the middle, the light is pretty consistent all around.
Cemetery: Le Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques