The Picpus Cemetery (Fr: Cimetière de Picpus) is the largest private cemetery in the city of Paris, France. It was created from land seized from the convent of the Chanoinesses de St-Augustin, during the Revolution. It contains the remains of French aristocrats who had been guillotined during the French Revolution ( 1789-1799 ). It is of particular interest to American visitors for Picpus cemetery also holds the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) over which an American flag is always present.
Located at 35 Rue Picpus ( 35 Picpus street) in 12th arrondissement, it can be visited in the afternoon every day except Monday, from 2PM to 6PM (Admission: € 3). The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace is located at the entrance of the cemetery. The nearest Paris metro stations are Nation and Picpus.
The cemetery is only five minutes from Place de la Nation, where the guillotine was set up under the Terror in 1794, on the Place du Trone, then called the Place du Trône Renversé. Between June 13 and July 28 as many as 55 people a day were executed. A pit was dug at the end of the garden where the decapitated bodies were thrown in together, noblemen and nuns, grocers and soldiers, laborers and innkeepers. A second pit was dug when the first filled up. The names of those buried in the two common pits, over 1300 men and women, are inscribed on the walls of the chapel.
Of the 1109 men, there were 108 nobles, 108 churchmen, 136 monastics (gens de robe) 178 military, and 579 commoners. 197 women were buried there, 51 from the nobility, 23 nuns and 123 commoners. The bloodshed stopped when Robespierre himself was beheaded, and the garden was closed off.Among the women, sixteen Carmelite nuns ranging in age from 29 to 78, were brought to the guillotine together, singing hymns as they were led to the scaffold, an incident commemorated in the opera Dialogues of the Carmelites. They were beatified in 1906.