Poll wants names of Panthéon women

Historic Paris mausoleum contains just two women and online questionnaire bids to rally support for more to be honoured

AN ONLINE poll starts today to gather support for proposals for more women to be buried in the Panthéon in Paris, the last resting place of the greats of French history.

There are only two women among the 75 people interred in the Panthéon – Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and Sophie Berthelot, the wife of chemist Marcellin Berthelot who was buried with her husband. He had died an hour after she did. The men include philosophers Rousseau and Voltaire, writer Victor Hugo and Socialist leader Jean Jaures.

President Hollande had called for more women to be buried in the mausoleum in the Quartier Latin, whose entrance bears the motto: "To its great men, a grateful fatherland."

Feminist group "Osez le féminisme" (Dare to be feminist) has put forward its own list of candidates including revolutionary writer and politician Olympe de Gouges (died 1882), anarchist Louise Michel (died 1905), philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (died 1986) and sculptor Camille Claudel (died 1943). The group says women have been "left out of the history books".

The poll, at the Panthéon website asks for suggestions for the next woman to be interred there, among six questions regarding the qualities needed for such a person.

Philippe Bélaval, president of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, said the online poll was a “way of involving a large part of the population in a choice that concerns everyone". Suggestions are open until September 22.
Photo: © Patrick Cadet / Centre des monuments nationaux