A pyramid in the cemetery of Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer

Photo credit: Guillaume Pichard

Set atop a small hill overlooking Toulon harbour, this is a most unusual cemetery.


At the very tip of the Saint-Mandrier peninsula, surrounded by umbrella pines, in the heart of one of the finest military cemeteries in France, stands an eight-metre high, pyramid-shaped mausoleum adorned with two sphinxes, built in September 1810. It is the tomb of Admiral Louis-René Levassor, Count of Latouche-Tréville, the prestigious commander-in-chief of Napoleon Bonaparte’s naval forces in the Mediterranean, who died in Toulon harbour on 17 August 1804.


On either side of the pyramid are French and Italian graves. In the French section are soldiers and seamen killed during, or in the aftermath of, the First World War, on the Eastern Front: 1 024 Frenchmen, 22 Serbs, 18 Greeks, 16 Russians and 1 Bulgarian are buried in individual graves. The remains of 777 French combatants killed in the Great War are assembled in an ossuary. There is also the tomb holding the remains of Marie-Nicolas Ravier, a captain in the Army of the Orient, who lost his life on 8 October 1917.

In 1961, the southeastern section was handed over to the Italian government. Here, in a columbarium, lie the remains of 975 soldiers whose bodies were not returned to their families, who died in the south of France during the Second World War.