The Northern Cemetery (Cimetiére du Nord), designed as an English-style garden, with sinuous drives and varied vegetation, is an incentive for walks and peace.
Built in the aftermath of the French revolution, this place enables to discover the History of Rennes to the end of the 18th century, with its public figures who are buried here. Indeed, many politicians, scientists, architects, painters, scholars, writers… lie in this emblematic place of Rennes.
The funeral symbolism, now forgotten in modern graves, is conserved here. So we can see truncated columns, stars, religious symbols, palm, winged hourglasses… that give some information about the decedent’s life.
The quality and the diversity of the graves and funeral chapels are a significant part of the Northern Cemetery of Rennes. One can find some neo-classical, neo-gothic and Art Deco styles, evolving during 19th and 20th centuries in France and across Europe.
The Northern Cemetery is also characterized by a space dedicated to Travelers’ community graves. They want impressive monuments for their deceased people. No doubt, these graves will soon integrate the funeral heritage of Rennes.
The Northern Cemetery is owned by the City of Rennes which displayed significant resources to enhance the city funeral heritage and to improve the services offered to the inhabitants. The cemetery is managed by the City Hall of Rennes and the Funeral Department. It extends on the surface of 85.526 m² and holds 13.600 graves and 200 cinerary niches. The deceased are mainly French of catholic religion.
Important graves and monuments
Some of the graves and monumenst on Northern Cemetery with historical and cultural meanings are:
- The Front Dome or The Funerary Chapel (built in 1829),
- Grave of sculptor Adolphe Léofanti (the sculpture created near 1880-1890),
- Grave of the Bessec family (created near 1920),
- Funerary chapel of printers Oberthür (created in first half of the 20th century),
- Grave of the mosaic worker Odorico (created in first half of the 20th century).
Programs of research, conservation and preservation
- Inventory service of Brittany has realized in the 1990’s a Funeral Heritage census at the Northern Cemetery.
- In 1993, a master’s thesis, written by the student of Rennes University Perrine Picard, deal with “The Northern Cemetery of Rennes, History and Funeral Art”.
- In 2007, Bernard Lebeau, Rennes University student, wrote his license report: “Story of the Northern Cemetery”.
- A Heritage census of the Northern Cemetery is being implemented since 2012 by the city of Rennes.
- The Funeral Department of Rennes is identifying a series of abandoned monuments in Rennes cemeteries, and is establishing a recuperation policy for these graves.
- The city of Rennes is working about the restoration of a funeral chapel, remarkable for its art. The city wants to create a columbarium inside. This would allow completing the places dedicated to cinerary urns.
For local residents and tourists
- For already 15 years, the tourist office of Rennes offers guided-tours inside the Northern Cemetery to allow visitors to discover this location.
- Rennes City has conceived an exhibition in the cemetery named “Balade Intemporelle du Cimetičre du Nord” (“Timeless Walk of the Northern Cemetery”). This is a memorial route where visitors can discover some emblematic personalities of the city, and also an introduction to the funeral symbolism in this location.
- A virtual visit of the Rennes cemeteries is available online: www.visitesvirtuelles.metropole.rennes.fr/cimetieresrennais. By going to the website, everyone can discover the two necropolises of Rennes (the Northern Cemetery and the Eastern Cemetery), the specific locations and the famous people buried there. The website give some details, guidance, visual documents and sometimes even videos, to discover the history of the cemeteries and those who died.
- Rennes City is also working with cultural institutions (museums, Conservatory of Music, Opera, associations…) in order to offer soon some cultural events in Rennes cemeteries (exhibitions, musicals walks…).
- A website dedicated to cemeteries of Rennes is being established. It will have a digital platform, online databases, preview of locations and detailed routes, information about funeral services, news… The first online databases version will become operational in the middle of 2015. In its second version, the website shall be provided for e-payment. By the end, there will be a virtual meditation of the dead.
Points of interest
ContactsNathalie Bidan (in charge of Funeral heritage)
Northern Cemetery, 36 avenue Gros Malhon, 35000 Rennes (France)
P: (+33)2 23 62 10 15
Eliane Ammi (Funeral Department co-manager, in charge of digital innovation)
East Cemetery, 1 place du Souvenir Français, 35000 Rennes (France)
P: (+33)2 23 62 16 00
Patrice Quénot (Funeral Department manager)
City Hall of Rennes, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, CS 63126, 35031 Rennes (France)
P: (+33)2 23 62 10 10
View Northern Cemetery in a larger map.