This is the last in our series on Francisque Poulbot. Today we will visit his final resting place and also visit a very unique and fun aspect of this space – the cats of the Montmartre cemetery.
Poulbot died in this house at 13 avenue Junot in Montmartre on September 16, 1946 and was buried in the Montmartre cemetery. A street on the hill now bears his name.
The Montmartre cemetery opened in 1825, on the site of an abandoned quarry that had been used as a makeshift mass grave in the Revolution. And for many of the renowned artists who worked and lived on Montmartre, it became their final home.
Very few are internationally famous, which is another reason this cemetery is often skipped. However, you can find: Dalida, Edgar Degas, Alexandre Dumas, Léon Foucault (foucoul) (who invented Foucault pendulum), and Adolphe Sax (inventor of saxophone).
Montmartre is a beautiful, peaceful little village within the bustling city of Paris, but it is also home to it’s own little community: a large group of cats. Dozens and dozens of cats live amongst the mausoleums.
L’École du Chat (or The Cat School in English) is an association that was founded in Montmartre in 1978 to save and protect cats that were abandoned in the capital, particularly in the Montmartre Cemetery.
The story goes that a photographer named Michel Cambazard was visiting the cemetery to take photos, and he began to notice all of these cats that were being fed by an older woman.
One day, when Cambazard was taking photos in the cemetery, he noticed that the Madame was being stopped by the security guards. The guards wanted to prevent her, and other neighbors, from feeding the stray cats. Basically, at this point, the cemetery was being overrun by the cats, and the city of Paris wasn’t having it.
The city wanted to start a project to remove the cats from the cemetery. Unfortunately, that included trapping them and either sending them to the pound, or putting them down. When Cambazard heard about this, he rounded up about 70 other cat lovers and they held a protest in the cemetery.
Eventually, the city agreed that if Cambazard took responsibility for the cats, then they could roam the cemetery freely. But this was a huge project because this meant that all the cats had to be captured, neutered, and tattooed. So, that was the start of L’École du Chat!
The Cat School is run completely by volunteers including the vets that assist in neutering and identifying the cats, the volunteers that visit the cemetery daily in order to feed them, and host families for cats that need to recover after receiving medical care.
One veterinarian in particular, Dr. Serge Belais, has been helping L’École du Chat since it’s beginnings in the late 1970s!
Some volunteers have also installed small boxes filled with hay throughout the cemetery so that the cats have a warm and dry place to sleep at night.
And now finally, we end our story of Francisque Poulbot at his final resting place.
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