History,  Sight-seeing

Suresnes American Cemetery

An American cemetery in Paris

In a town to the west of Paris lies an American cemetery on a hill. It is the final resting place for soldiers from World War 1 and World War 2. There are around 1,541 soldiers from WWI and 23 unknown soldiers from WWII. 

The necropolis and the land it sits on was dedicated in 1919 in the presence of President Woodrow Wilson and French Marshal Ferdinand Foch. The chapel at the top of the hill was added less than 20 years later, in 1932 and is a reminder to the memory of those known and unknown who were lost while fighting in the two world wars. This cemetery is the only cemetery in Europe that is dedicated to the two world wars. 

The grave stones are the iconic Italian marble in the shape of a cross (for protestant persons) and the Star of David (for jewish persons) and they form a “V” all leading to the chapel. 

From the esplanade of the chapel, you can see the grave stones of all the soldiers. When facing the chapel in front of you, off the the right, there is a small group of grave stones that are unmarked. These are the 23 unknown soldiers from WWII that have been laid to rest. They are indicated by a large marble plaque on the ground. 

This is a great place to pay your respects, particularly if you are unable to make it to the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Although not the same landscape, the atmosphere is the same.

Visiting this cemetery has become my 4th of July ritual. I like to go around opening time, when it’s quiet and I’m usually the only one. You can easily walk around and check out the different names marked on the grave stones. Access to the chapel is always open and there are two rooms on either side, the room on the left dedicated to WWI and the room on the right to WWII. 

Important Information:

Address: 123 boulevard Washington, Suresnes.

Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. 

Entry: free

Getting to Suresnes: From Paris you’ll either want to head to Saint-Lazare train station and take the L train (depending on the time) either take direction Versaille-Rive Droite or Saint-Nom-la Breteche/Forêt de Marley. Or you can hop on the RER A, direction La Défense and take the L train for either Versaille-Rive Droite or Saint-Nom-la Breteche/Forêt de Marley. The stop you are looking for is Suresnes Mont-Valérien. From there, it’s a 10 minute up-hill (and it’s a doozy) hike to the cemetery. 

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