During your stay in Caen, visiting the dormant cemeteries is an opportunity to discover unusual and little-known places. Away from the business of the city, these small green spaces have become places where people like to have a stroll.

This kind of visit can seem odd, but the scenery invites to romanticism with century-old trees and an abandoned state of nature, still very well maintained. Set off to explore the six dormant cemeteries of the city.  

Saint Pierre and its strange writings

From the entrance, get immersed by the atmosphere with the strange pious scriptures engraved on the pillars. These death themed maxims are as old as 1785. Of the 117 recorded in 1882, around forty are still present. At the end of the XVIII century, the funerary facilities that surrounded the churches of the city center were transferred outside of the city. There is no burial there since that time.

Illustrious Figures in Saint Jean

In the heart of the Vaucelles district, the Saint-Jean dormant cemetery is located inside a former open-sky quarry where the renowned Caen stone was extracted. It is therefore half-buried and has an atmosphere very different from the others, protected behind huge stone walls. Historically, the Saint-Jean parish was for the aristocracy and the notable figures, which explains the richness of its funerary heritage. Before leaving, don’t forget to take a look at the tomb of the archaeologist and historian named Arcisse de Caumont or also Mr. Loyal, an emblematic figure of the world of the circus. 

A protestant cemetery in the heart of the university

What a singularity! The campus 1 of the university of Caen is next to this old protestant cemetery. That’s why this tiny green place is often busy with students who come here to have a quiet break. During the 17th and the 18th century, non-catholics had no place to bury their dead. That’s why a protestant parishioner made the acquisition of this former garden surrounded by walls to keep the deceased.

Saint-Nicolas, the eldest

Only dormant cemetery adjacent to an abandoned church, it contains numerous tombs of priests. In spring, purple flowers blooms to dot the lawns of the cemetery and cats lurk away from sight. Behold, near the square of priests’ tombs, the skull and the shins pictured in saltire.

The romantic atmosphere of the quatre-nations

Two steps away from the Jardin des Plantes, this dormant cemetery said “Quatre-nations” is given over to the nature under its abundant vegetation. It is famous for being one of the most romantic and peaceful of Caen. Don’t miss to look at the stele of Mme Rocher and her handshake, symbol of the faithfulness in death. Numerous engraved tombs, chapels and funerary arts come reinforce this picturesque atmosphere which was used as decor for the movie of Truffaut “The green room”.

Cimetière dormant des 4 nations, Caen
4 nations cemetery, Caen © Caen la mer Tourisme / Alix Jonet

Saint-Ouen the smallest

The Saint-Ouen cemetery is the smallest of the dormant cemeteries. It was designed during the construction of the church of the same name. It is the only cemetery that surrounds a still functioning church. Indeed, today, the Saint-Ouen church hosts services once per week.

We like

  • The calm and serenity that reign in these bucolic green spaces
  • The unusual discovery of Caen through its funerary heritage
  • The picturesque atmosphere