Cemetery: All The Practical Information In 7 Questions
Cemeteries as we know them today appeared in the Middle Ages. These burial places perpetuate the memory of the deceased by monuments, symbols or inscriptions. Every town in France has at least one cemetery, and the largest towns can have more than a dozen. We have gathered all the practical information you need to know about these funeral spaces in 7 questions.
1- What are the opening hours?
Cemeteries are burial spaces open to the public during the day.
You may freely enter a cemetery, even if you are not a resident of the community and no family member is buried there.
In cemeteries, including some famous ones such as the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris or the marine cemetery in Sète, visitors are asked to respect the tranquility of the place because a cemetery is above all a space dedicated to remembrance and meditation.
Cemeteries are open every day. On average, the opening hours are from 10 am to 6 pm in winter and from 8 am to 7 pm in summer.
However, it is not possible to enter a cemetery outside of the opening hours.
2- How to locate a grave?
If you want to go to the cemetery to pay your respects to a specific grave, you should know that more and more cemeteries in France are equipping themselves with interactive terminals that help you locate a precise grave thanks to a search by the name of the deceased.
To find a grave in a cemetery, you can also consult the online register, contact the town hall of the burial site or the cemetery janitor.
The administrative management of the cemeteries depends in fact on the social service of the municipality. The city hall is also responsible for the management of concessions in the municipality and it is the city council that sets the price of concessions in the municipality.
3- What are the different types of concessions?
A cemetery is a burial place housing different types of concessions. A distinction should be made between burial vaults and earthen concessions.
In addition, some cemeteries have a columbarium, a place where urns containing the ashes of the deceased who have chosen cremation can be placed in niches.
Finally, concessions that allow for the interment of urns are called cavurns.
4- How to buy a concession ?
To purchase a plot on a commune, you must apply to the mayor.
You must also provide supporting documents such as the family record book of the deceased, his or her identity card, the mailing address of the heirs and a check made out to the Public Treasury for the purchase of the plot
Note that you cannot purchase a concession in advance, but only at the time of a burial.
You will then have a right of enjoyment over a plot at the cemetery to bury:
- one deceased person in the case of an individual plot
- several persons listed in the plot deed in the case of a collective plot
- your family members in the case of a family plot.
5- What is the duration of a concession?
Land grants in a cemetery may be for 15 years, 30 years, or 50 years or may be perpetual grants.
In France, cemeteries have not been able to grant perpetual concessions since 1996.
The price, which varies from one municipality to another, is of course proportional to the duration of the burial plot.
When the concession expires, the family is generally informed by letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
Nevertheless, some communes do not inform the heirs of the end of a concession and assign the concession to another deceased person after 2 years.
When the time limit comes to an end, the family must decide whether or not to renew the plot at the cemetery.
6- To whom is the right to burial in a commune reserved?
To be able to be buried in the territory of a commune, you must :
- either be domiciled there
- or be registered on the electoral roll
- or have died there
- or have a family plot there.
In the other cases, your right to burial on the commune is left to the discretion of the town hall. The latter may or may not accept that you be buried there.
7- To whom do the graves belong?
Traditionally under the authority of the church, cemeteries today belong to the communal public domain.
But the graves there are privately owned by the families.
The burials fall into the municipal public domain :
- at the expiration of the concession for limited-term concessions
- in case of obvious abandonment by the owner for perpetual concessions.