Monday, 13 April 2009

The Paris Dog Cemetery - The Cimetière des Chiens

According to Wikipedia, The Cimetière des Chiens is believed to be the first zoological necropolis in the world. It opened in 1899 at 4 pont de Clichy on Île des Ravageurs in Asnières-sur-Seine, Île-de-France, France. Literally translated as the 'Cemetery of Dog', this elaborate pet cemetery is the burial site for many dogs but also for a wide variety of pets ranging from horses to monkeys to lions and even fish. Located in a northwest suburb of Paris, the pet cemetery caters to a very elite clientele. Filled with grand and ornate sculptures, at the entry is the monument to Barry, a Saint Bernard mountain rescue dog who died in 1814. The plaque says that during his lifetime, "Barry" was responsible for saving the lives of 40 people lost or trapped in the mountain snow.

Some of the cemetery's residents are famous in their own right such as Rin Tin Tin, the star of a number of Hollywood films, while others are the beloved pets of the wealthy who could afford this elaborate burial place such as film director Sacha Guitry. Buried here too, is the pet lion of stage actress, feminist, and co-founder of the cemetery, Marguerite Durand and the pet of Camille Saint-Saëns, composer of Carnival of the Animals.

The cemetery today is operated by the city of Asnières and in 1987, the government of France classified the cemetery as a historical monument. However, the cemetery has fallen on hard times and no longer draws very many tourists. Its owners have stated that they may have to close it.

Barbara Gordon produced a short film on this cemetery. It is very moving.

11 comments:

  1. Ah, now this is a place I have always wanted to visit. Guess I better up then Laurie? Such a shame when unique, quirky places have to close....There is a weird cemetery in Genova, but we didn't manage to visit it last year, as I got badly sunburnt (don't ask!0 have you heard of that one?

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  2. Thanks, Liz. If you get there, I'll be green with envy. Genova? Ah, you mean the monumental Cemetery of Staglieno which is set in one of the eastern districts of Genoa. Designed in the early XIX century by one of the most appreciated city's architects, Carlo Barabino, it features hundreds of striking marble sculptures and monuments to the personalities buried here. The layout of the cemetery recalls the topography of Genoa itself with a labyrinth of paths and stone steps weaving up the hillside amongst towering cypresses and cedars. Ornately carved chapels and family tombs dot the grounds, and special areas are dedicated to British soldiers, priests and nuns of various religious orders. In the Protestant area you can see, among the others, the tomb of Mary Constance Lloyd, the wife of Oscar Wilde.

    Do I sound knowledgable? Not really, I just looked it up on Google! I have to admit to feeling a bit depressed. While trying to find something about the Molesworth Dogs Cemetery in my earlier post, I came across a site giving the history of the Second World War US airfield at Molesworth. It contained a section on pets i.e. dogs that were taken on missions to bomb Germany. The poor animals must have been terrified and I shudder to think how many never made it back from bombing missions . . .
    Laurie

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  3. I have rescued many dogs during my time and some have passed on. I have all of them cremated and still have the ashes because I move around a lot and just can't bare to leave them behind. I have often entertained the notion of opening a pet cemetery. Until then, I will keep taking my beloved pet shes with me.

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  4. I too have the ashes of my beloved dog 'Ruby' they are inside a 'clay river rock' with her name on it, and until this spring, I kept the clay pot inside, but just this spring thought Ruby might enjoy the garden, so put her outside.

    Just thinking about it makes me tearful - I took her to the vet as an old, but breathing being, and a few days later she came back in a cardboard box. I found that very hard to come to terms with. I often fondly rub the clay river rock, and think of her!

    Very interesting post on the pet cemetry though!

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  5. Have you been to the Asnières pet cemetery ? It is a lovely place, I went there a few years back, and will have to dig up the photos I did on that last visit... (in the pile of thousands of negatives currently being inventoried) I hadn't heard it might be in danger of closing, will have to make a quick trip back there, just in case, it is probably about half an hour to 40 minutes from where I live. Thanks for the wake up call there. Wow, for the cemetery in Genoa, you had me worried there for a minute that you might be a walking graveyardological genius ! ;D Thank goodness for Google... Will be sure to let you know if I get back to Asnières, given that I'm on vacation as of tomorror night, just might have to make a detour there...

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  6. Thank you for finding and sharing the video with us and telling us about the place...very moving.

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  7. I was amazed at how much they were able to show what these pets were in life, vivant, empathetic, possessing souls. And Edith Piaf really pushes one over the edge. We're doing a lot of cremation here, and you can specify it's only your pet (rather than a mass grave. A rare find and tribute. Thanks, Laurie. Margaret

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  8. Very interesting video. Now I'm siting and thinking about the souls of animals. Both your sites are well done - I'm sure to return :)

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  9. Thanks everyone - welcome Bill - it is certainly a very popular post, it being among the top four. This one, the Palermo Catacombs, Minnie communing with the Gnome and the review of The Mystery of the Foll and the Vanisher. Bloggers from 22 countries are coming to the blog and it is not yet two months old. Aside from the joy of it being so popular, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to view so many other marvellous bloggers!
    Best wishes
    Laurie

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  10. Just wanted you to know that I did indeed spend several hours at the Cimetiere des Chiens yesterday afternoon. The people who work there assured me that there are no plans afoot to close the cemetery, and I was even able to witness a burial yesterday, which attests that the cemetery is still operating. Will be posting very shortly some photos out of the many that I took... for animal lovers it is a very photogenic cemetery. And often the inscriptions on the tombs are incredibly touching, like one that said "Deceived by humans, but never by my dog". Thanks for being the catalyst that stoked my return visit there. I was only frustrated by one thing, which is that in the video, near the end, there is a brief shot of a tomb marked "Jerry" with photo of a poodle. And I remember photographing that same Jerry on my first visit about 15 years ago. But that Jerry stone is gone now, I searched high and low for it yesterday, but could not find it. Will have to dig up my earlier photos.

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  11. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
    謝謝你的文章分享,請你有空到我

    參觀,Thanks

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