It is certainly one of the most strange cemeteries in France.
In the XVIth century, Anne of Brittany decided to extend St Peter’s Church and as a result, the small cemetery close to the church was reduced in size but was still big enough to welcome the deceased. Later, because of the plague epidemics and the population growth, the cemetery became really too small and was then moved outside the walls to a bigger place known as La Brosse. The Flamboyant Gothic style entrance door to the cemetery and an inscription for visitors are the only surviving relics of the past…
« Vous, qui ici passez,
Priez Dieu pour les trépassés
Ce que vous êtes ils ont été
Ce que sont un jour serez ».
This inscription invites the visitors to pray God for the dead, keeping in mind that they are exactly like the deceased: alive one day and dead the next one, thus highlighting the impermanence of life.
What is unique about this site is its architecture: indeed, it is a cemetery that looks like a cloister. Thus, the south arcade is composed of brick pillars with spandrels. A spandrel is a triangular space between the exterior curve of an arch and a rectangular frame enclosing it. In this cemetery, the spandrels you can find on the pillars of the south arcade are decorated with one ovolo and three skulls placed in cavities designed for that purpose. Similarly, in the gallery, some joists were used to support boards on which the bones of the deceased were placed after being deposited in the charnel house.
The south gallery and the north chapel were erected in the XVIth century. Where the east and north galleries meet, there is a curved opening which also dates back to the XVIth century and was blocked up after raising the level of St Nicolas Street. The beautiful cemetery Gothic door is similar to that of the tower of Anne of Brittany. Indeed, both the cemetery and the tower have probably been designed by the same architects.
Listed as a historic monument since 1875, this cemetery is used today as the village cemetery.
Famous personalities burried in the cemetery
The Duchess of Chârost, the Earl of la Boïssière-Chambors, the Earl of Dion, Céleste Albaret (Marcel Proust’s housekeeper), the journalist Germine Beaumont, the actor Jean Marchat, the actress Dany Robin, the actor Georges Marchal, the composer Georges Garvarentz, the sports journalist Thierry Gilardi, the singer Charles Aznavour…