Andrey Tarkovsky, 1932-1986

Andrey Tarkovsky, 1932-1986
Andrey Tarkovsky, 1932-1986

Monday, 30 August 2010

Finding Tarkovsky's grave at the Russian cemetery in Sainte Genevieve Des Bois, Paris, France

This page has a very simple purpose - to enable you to find Andrey Tarkovsky's grave, if you wish to do so in person, or to leave a comment as a memorial if you cannot get to the municipal cemetery in Sainte Genevieve Des Bois, about 33km from the centre of Paris, where Tarkovsky is buried.

I visited this cemetery in August 2010 and, as it was a Sunday afternoon and there was nobody to ask, I spent a very long time wandering around trying to find one grave among many thousands! There was no locating detail on findagrave.com. The photos of the grave posted on Flickr barely had enough information to identify where in the cemetery the grave would be found. It also occurred to me that there might be admirers of Tarkovsky and his work who would like to find the grave but will find it all the more difficult if they cannot read Cyrillic. So I thought I would create a simple site to assist with the task.

To get to the cemetery, you can take RER line C to Sainte Genevieve des Bois, and from the station catch bus 104. This does not go down Rue Leo Legrange, on which the cemetery is situated, but turns off just before it. From the centre of Paris the combined RER, bus journey and walk will take 50-60 minutes before you are at the cemetery gates.




There is a large plan of the cemetery just inside the second gate. If your eyesight is very good (looking at the plan in real life, not at this tiny photo!), you will be able to see that in zone J1 there is a grave 7259. I am reasonably certain that this is the plot number for Tarkovsky's grave; if it is not, and you head for that plot number you will certainly find yourself close enough to find it from the photos posted here.

The plot is near one of the surrounding walls and if you walk along the path running beside that wall, you will get this view towards the row where it is situated. It is under the mass of greenery in the middle.















The grave itself looks like this.












On the left hand side is a small tablet commemorating Tarkovsky. The inscription on his grave stone, which was created by the Russian sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, reads: Andrey Tarkovsky - 4.IV.1932-29.12.1986 - To the man who saw the Angel.



To my mind, it is a rather measly memorial to a very considerable artistic figure, and I don't feel that the reference to an angel is an obvious tribute to the strengths of Tarkovsky's work. But this is where he is buried, so may he rest in peace under it ...

As when I arrived at the RER station the bus 104 was already waiting, so I had no time to buy some flowers in the centre of the suburb. By the side of the grave, seeing a very small number of tributes already there, I regretted this. I decided to create my own "found wreath" out of pebbles and natural objects readily available around the grave. I should like to think this was an acceptable tribute, given Tarkovsky's love of nature and natural forms.


So that is my account of how to find the grave. If you are an admirer of Tarkovsky's work, and you are unable to go to the grave yourself, why not leave a comment below about what his work means to you, as a tribute?

6 comments:

  1. Thank you very much , i will try to go there

    but could u please tell me clearly again

    about when i can get off from the Bus 104 ?

    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is a better map at the entrance of the cemetery today.
    Trakovsky's grave is nr.180, it's about 100m from Rudolf Nureev's grave.
    If you want to have a copy of it, let me know.
    Luc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Luc,

      Could you email me a copy of the better map? I am going to St Genevieve-des-Bois in June, and want to find Tarkovsky's grave.

      Thanks,

      Sean.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for this. I went there in 2007, but couldn't find the grave. I am going again in June, so hope to be able to find it this time, with your directions!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for posting this information. I visited the cemetery in November 1991 but back in those days there was no internet, Google Maps or posts such as this one, and the only information that I had was the name of the cemetery. I found myself lost in a maze of gravestones, and because I read cyrillic, I spent a long time going through the names of the deceased one by one.

    Meanwhile the weather was worsening, a cold wind began to blow and I started to look for someone to ask for directions. In the distance I saw an Orthodox priest but soon he disappeared and I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I began to contemplate giving up, but first of the thought of a rare opportunity to visit Paris, then coming all this way only to give up somehow didn't feel right. Then it suddenly occurred to me that at that instance I was living a perfect Tarkovskian moment - the journey was the distination and there was no need to go any further. The fact that I made the journey and found myself within 100 metres of the mortal remains of the man who I admired and still admire more than any other contemporary artist and thinker was exactly what I was looking for, so I turned around and slowly made my trip back to Paris feeling strangely fulfilled.

    Having said that, I will make another attempt at finding the grave the next time I'm in Paris. As for the monument itself, judging from the pictures, it is a perfect tribute to someone so humble and divorced from materialistic needs. And I also beleive that it is good that there are no directions to the grave because a cemetery should remain a peaceful resting place and not a tourist attraction.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the info, and I was able to visit Him yesterday.

    Now, Bus 3 goes directly from the Genevieve train station to and drops you off in front of the entrance of the cemetery.

    At the entrance is a map indicating where his grave 180 is, so no one should have problem finding it.

    As to the wreath, it was still there, although I had to rearrange it a little. :)

    ReplyDelete