Four-Nations Cemetery

The Four-nations cemetery is an incredible place. A derelict, yet beautifully romantic, old cemetery on the hills above the town of Caen in Normandy.

Four-Nations Cemetery

Four-Nations Cemetery
Four-Nations Cemetery in Caen

Wikipedia has a story on the Four-Nations Cemetery:

On 1 March 1780, the Parliament of Rouen confirmed a ruling of the Bailiwick of Caen of 1779 ordering the transfer of urban cemeteries outside the town. In 1784, the parishes of Notre-Dame, Saint-Sauveur, Saint-Martin and Saint-Étienne bought a plot of land next to the Notre-Dame-des-Champs chapel. The so-called Four Nations Cemetery, in reference to the four parishes, was blessed on 4 April 1785.

Four-Nations Cemetery

Some are alive and kicking, others are not. In the four-nations cemetery in Caen in Normandy, many of the tombstones are showing signs of wear. This confers a feeling of sadness and beauty. One cannot but feel for the people who are interred in this place.

Four-Nations Cemetery

As we went there in May, brightly coloured flowers were growing all over the place, it was beautifully romantic. This place survived the June 1944 bombings. As you may or may not know, the whole town of Caen was rased to the ground. It’s even more remarkable that a place like this is still intact.

Caen in June 1944 – photo on eBay

Bertrand Beyern has more on his blog about the Four-Nations cemetery:

[The Four-nations cemetry was] Created at the end of the Ancien Régime, a survival of a bygone era (the patriarchal 19th century), it preserves between its high walls and under its hedges the bourgeois memory of the town (numerous epitaphs of legal advisors to the National Assembly, solicitors, lawyers approved by the Commercial Court, cavalry officers, doctors…). Its wooded setting charmed, after others, François Truffaut who shot La Chambre verte there (in addition to directing the film, he played the main role alongside the young Nathalie Baye).

Four-Nations Cemetery
Four-Nations Cemetery and its wooded surroundings

The wooded scenery around the tombs is magnificent.

Here’s the trailer for the 1978 film by Truffaut. The opening scene was shot here.

Yann Gourvennec
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