Jewish Heritage Europe

Heritage & Heritage Sites

GENERAL AND REGIONAL

France Guide for the Jewish Traveler

Comprehensive official French web site that benefits from having Toni L. Kamins as its editor and contributor. It includes addresses and links to museums, Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, Jewish quarters and other sites of Jewish heritage and history as well as information and resources on today’s Jewish communities and life, including schools, restaurants, kosher shops, bookstores and even kosher wineries….The guide is organized by region of France — click and see.

patrimoinejuif-france.com — an Interactive Map of Jewish Heritage Sites in France

A clickable map with information on more than 200 sites all over the country: synagogues, memorials, Jewish cemeteries, and more. The map was prepared by the B’nai B’rith Hirschler team (Strasbourg) for the “Journées Européennes de la Culture et du Patrimoine Juifs en France” (European Days of Jewish Culture).

Jewish Cemeteries in France

Article by Gérard Nahon on the history, styles, and current condition of Jewish cemeteries in France

He describes the approx. 300 or so Jewish cemeteries in France, most of which opened following the decrees or laws in 1791, 1804, and 1881, and which fall into four historic and legal categories:

1. old community cemetery,
2. independent cemetery belonging to the municipality,
3. l’enclos israélite in the communal cemetery opened in the 19th century
4. le carré israélite, a Jewish plot in communal and inter-communal cemeteries of the 20th century.
 

Web site for the European Day of Jewish Culture & Heritage in France

 

Dedicated to the events programmed on the annual European Day of Jewish Culture in September, this web site lists many Jewish heritage sites in France, by region (based on the EDJC events planned there).

Judaism and Jewish Heritage in Alsace-Lorraine (in French)

Alsace-Lorraine has very well developed documentation and tourist infrastructure regarding Jewish heritage sites; the region launched “open doors” days to Jewish heritage in 1996, which led to the overall launch of the European Day of Jewish Culture. The general web has numerous sub-pages with detailed information on scores of Jewish heritage sites, including synagogues, cemeteries, mikvehs, museums, homes and other places for the departments of Bas-Rhin; Haut-Rhin; and Lorraine.  It also has links to material on Jewish heritage in individual towns including Colmar;  Mulhouse; Strasbourg and Metz.

NORMANDY — Synagogues and Jewish Sites of Interest

Chabad tourism and information site with listings and addresses for a number of sites in northern France.

Old postcards of Jewish sites in France

Edward Victor’s web site has history and postcards for more than 20 towns:

BelfortBesancon Biarritz CarpentrasChablisChalons-Sur-Marne, DijonEpernayEpinalIngwillerJouarre (La Ferte), Lille, LunevilleReimsSaint EtienneSedanSelestat, Strasbourg, ThannThionvilleVerdun

Videos of an international conference on the Archaeology of Judaism in France and Europe, held in Paris January 14-15, 2010

All the presentations are available in video form, clicking the links. Most are in French; some are in English with French voice-over

INDIVIDUAL SITES

You can access information to many if not most main Jewish heritage sites in France via the general links above. We present here below places that have their own web sites or other online resources.

AVIGNON

Neo-classic synagogue, designed by the architect by architect J.A. Jeoffroy and built in 1846-48, features a domed rotunda and elegant sanctuary notable for the two-levels of Doric and Corinthian columns. It is located in the medieval ghetto area on the site of an earlier synagogue that was destroyed by fire in 1845. The first synagogue on the site was built in the 13th century.

Synagogue

2 place Jérusalem
84000 Avignon
Tel: +33 04 90 85 21 24

Jewish community web site

360 degree photo documentation of the synagogue, on Synagogues360

BAYONNE

Jewish cemetery established in the 17th century and one of the oldest in France, with about 3,000 mainly horizontal Sephardic-style grave markers. Restoration work, organized by the German group Aktion Sühnezeichen (Action Reconciliation) and the Jewish Museum of Belgium, has been going on since 2011, following on work carried out in 2010 by  Belgium Jewish Museum curator Dr. Philippe Pierret and the photographer Gina van Hoof.

See the JHE post about the restoration work.

Here’s a video about the 2014 volunteer restoration campaign.

BIDACHE

Small town in the Pyrenees with a 17th century Jewish cemetery.

JHE report on restoration of the Jewish cemetery.

BORDEAUX

Bordeaux has three historic Jewish cemeteries, all listed as historic cultural monuments since 1995.

Downloadable PDF brochure on Bordeaux’s Jewish cemeteries

Prepared and published by the city’s tourism department. In French with a map and summaries in English and Spanish.

Video of the Avignonnais Jewish cemetery at 47 rue Sauteyron in central Bordeaux, founded in 1728 and in use until 1805. It has 104 graves:

Article — with pictures — about the Avigonnais cemetery

BOUXWILLER

Synagogue from 1842 (now housing the Alsatian-Jewish Museum). Jewish cemetery dating from the late 16th century; oldest legible stone from 1608.

Alsatian-Jewish Museum

62a Grand-rue, 67330 Bouxwiller
Tel./Fax : +33 (0) 3 88 709 717 
Email : museejudeoalsacien@orange.fr

Page on Bouxwiller on the Jewish heritage in Alsace-Lorraine web site

CARPENTRAS

Synagogue

The oldest still-active Synagogue in France, built in 1367 and restored, expanded and rebuilt in rococo style in the 18th century by the architect Antoine D’Allemand, who also carried out other major works in the town, including the aquaduct. The synagogue has a simple facade. The complex includes, on the ground floor, two mikvehs (one from the 14th century and one from the 18th century) and two bakeries (one for bread, one for matzo). The sanctuary, in teal-colored wood, employs tromp l’oeill “marble” and baroque elements.

Ark, Carpentras synagogue

Jewish cemetery

Like the synagogue the cemetery dates back to the 14th century and was listed as a historic monument in 2007. Hidden behind a 10-foot wall, it lies just outside town, across from the aqueduct (designed by the same architect who designed the 18th century reconstruction of the synagogue) and includes about 760 legible gravestones, shaded by mature pine trees. (A catalogue of the stones was published in 1998 but it’s not clear if and where it is available.)

The oldest part of the cemetery has no gravestones, as a papal edict at the time forbade erecting stones or making inscriptions. The oldest stones date from the late 18th and early 19th century, after the French Revolution. There is also a ceremonial hall and a Geniza.

Click to access synagogue web site

Read our JHE article after a Spetember 2017 visit to the Carpentras sites

CAVAILLON

Medieval Synagogue, rebuilt in rebuilt in elaborate style in 1772-1774. No longer in use as a house of worship, it houses a Jewish Museum. It is located in the old Jewish quarter, and the complex includes a ritual bath. A plaque marks the site of the old Jewish cemetery — now a parking lot next tothe tourism office.

Synagogue and Jewish Museum

Rue Hébraïque
84300  Cavaillon

Web site of the Musée Judéo-Comtadin

DELME

Synagogue originally built in the late 19th century, now housing the Centre d’Art Contemporain (Center for Contemporary Art)

33, rue Poincare, 57590 Delme, France
tel.+33 (0)3 87 01 43 42
fax.+33 (0)3 87 01 43 14
cac.delme@wanadoo.fr

TSynagogue Delme Photo: By Aimelaime (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commonshe synagogue was originally built in 1881 in Moorish style, with a large, distinctive onion dome. It was almost completely demolished by German bombing in World War II and reconstructed in 1946 in a much simpler style that still incorporates a peristyle, raised platform, first-floor balcony, arched portal and windows, and dome. It has housed the contemporary arts center since 1993.

ELBEUF

Once a major wool manufacturing center, Elbeuf, in Normandy, had a sizeable Jewish population in the textile industry before World War II. Few survivors returned to Elbeuf, but the 1950s and 60s brought Sephardic Jews from N. Africa. With the move of textile manufacturing to the Far East over the past few decades, the last semblances of Elbeuvian Jewish life have vanished. The synagogue – whose outer walls bear yellow stars painted by Nazi sympathizers during World War II – still stands.

Here’s the trailer for Yellow Stars of Tolerance, a documentary chronicling how New Yorker Marie Lippman, born in Elbeuf,  works to see the restoration of the synagogue:

LYON

Synagogue

13, quai Tilsitt, on the Saône River
Tel : 04 78 37 13 43
Fax : 04 78 38 26 57
Email : aci@9online.fr

A neo-Byzantine building whose street facade resembles a stately mansion, the synagogue was designed by the architect Abraham Hirsch and built in 1863-64. It was placed on the list of historic monuments in 1984 and underwent renovations completed in 2014, in time for celebrations marking its 150th anniversary.

Jewish community web site

MARMOUTIER

There was a Jewish presence in this Alsace town since the 13th century. The community was largely destroyed in the Holocaust, but important traces of the heritage remain, and the local museum has a major section on rural Jewish life.

Jewish Cemetery

Outside town on rue Neuve

Established in 1798,  it has about 600 burials.

Synagogue

Rue de la Synagogue

Built in 1822, it was devastated in World War II. In 1961 it was acquired by the municipality, which uses it as a communal hall.

Musée du Patrimoine et du Judaïsme Alsacien

6 rue du Général Leclerc
67440 Marmoutier
Tél. +33 (0)3 88 02 36 30
Email : musee.marmoutier@orange.fr
Web site: www.museedemarmoutier.fr  Facebook page

Located in a half-timbered patrician house dating from 1590, where Jewish families lived until the 20th century, the museum focuses on rural life and on Judaism in Alsace from the middle ages to the 18th  and 19th centuries. The house includes a mikveh dating from 1710.

See Jewish history of town (in German)

See Jewish history of town (in French)

Timeline of local Jewish history (in English)

PARIS

As befits the capital of the country with the largest Jewish population in Europe, there are many synagogues, neighborhoods, institutions…Check the Paris page of the France for the Jewish Traveler web site for suggested itineraries, etc.

Synagogues

La Grande Synagogue (La Victoire Synagogue)

44, rue de la Victoire
Tel. 01.40.82.26.26
Email: infos@lavictoire.org / gilberte.behar@lavictoire.org
 

Seating 1,800 people, this is the largest synagogue in France, and one of the largest in Europe. It was designed by the Chief Architect of Paris Alfred-Philibert Aldrophe and built in 1874, with the support of the Rothschild family.

Website of the Synagogue

 Agoudas Hakehilos (Pavée) Synagogue

10 Rue Pavée
75004 Paris
Tel: +33 1 48 87 21 54

A synagogue designed in art nouveau style by the architect Hector Guimard and dating from 1914.

See panaoramic image and other photos on the Synagogues 360 web site

 Synagogue Buffault

28, rue Buffault
Tel. 01 49 70 70 00

An imposing synagogue built in 1877 and a major work of the architect Stanislas Ferrand, it has a facade featuring a large stained glass rose window framed by an arch. The grand sanctuary has a large raised Bimah in the center, in Sephardic fashion, and seats arranged along the sides.

Read a description on the synagogue web site and see photos

PFAFFENHOFFEN

Synagogue

The disused synagogue, built in 1791, opened in 2000 as a Museum of Alsatian-Jewish Life, following restoration aided by funding from the World Monuments Fund. The WMF describes the building as having:

a steep pitched tiled roof and simple interior—a modest architectural style common in Alsace. The ground floor includes a large meeting room, a small kitchen, and a room once used to accommodate travelers. It also features a stone fountain with a Hebrew inscription dating the fountain to 1744. On the second floor is the sanctuary, plus a school, and a small women’s gallery covered by latticework screens. A Torah ark carved with lions, and straight-backed benches with scroll-work armrests have survived,

For visits, contact the Musée de l’image populaire:

24, rue du Dr Schweitzer – Pfaffenhoffen
67350 VAL DE MODER
Tél. : +33 (0)3 88 07 80 05 

ROUEN

The Jewish presence dates back to the early middle ages and archaeological traces (mainly the so-caled Maison Sublime) remain. Today there is an active Jewish community; a synagogue was built in 1950 to replace the synagogue destroyed in WW2.

La Maison Sublime 

A building dating from around 1100 and discovered by chance in 1976 under the courtyard of the Rouen courthouse. It  is believed to be the oldest Jewish building in France, though scholars have been divided as to what its original function was — a private residence, synagogue, or yeshiva.

La Maison Sublime web site (in French)

Maison Sublime English language web site articles

Rouen Jewish history of Bet Hatfutsot web site

THANN (Alsace)

Though there is evidence of an earlier presence of Jews in Thann, communal life dates from the late 18th century. Today there is a synagogue and Jewish cemetery; and in 2014  a mikveh dating from 1860 was discovered.

Synagogue

Imposing synagogue, with Moorish-style elements, built in 1862 to replace an earlier structure. It was severely damaged in World War II, rebuilt, then devastated again in World War II. It was rebuilt after WW2, then restored in 1975. Efforts are under way for further restoration and repair work.

Friends of the Synagogue blog

Aimed at raising funds for the refurbishment

Information about the restoration of the building

See a video about the synagogue and restoration project:


DHM 2014 – SEM 40 – sauvegarde de la synagogue… by teledoller