I love France #22: Père Lachaise Cemetery


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One of the things I have always wanted to visit in Paris is the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Père Lachaise Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, [simtjɛːʁ dy pɛːʁ laʃɛːz]; officially, cimetière de l’Est, “East Cemetery”) is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France (44 hectares (110 acres)),though there are larger cemeteries in the city’s suburbs.

Père Lachaise is in the 20th arrondissement, and is reputed to be the world’s most visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years. It is also the site of three World War I memorials.

The cemetery is on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. The Paris Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on both lines 2 and 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. Many tourists prefer the Gambetta station on line 3, as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.


The cemetery takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. The property, situated on the hillside from which the king during the Fronde, watched skirmishing between the Condé and Turenne, was bought by the city in 1804. Established by Napoleon in this year, the cemetery was laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, and later extended.

Père Lachaise Cemetery was opened on 21 May 1804. The first person buried there was a five-year-old girl named Adélaïde Pailliard de Villeneuve, the daughter of a bell-ringer of the Faubourg St. Antoine – I tried to understand what this bell-ringer was about, the closest thing I could come was some kind of position at a police station, maybe!
Napoleon Bonaparte as a consul declared that “Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion”.

Although some sources incorrectly estimate the number of interred as 300,000 in Père Lachaise, (I believe that’s the number of the major graves), according to official website of the city of Paris; to date, one million people have been buried there.Along with the stored remains in the Aux Morts ossuary, the number of human remains exceeds 2–3 million in Père Lachaise cemetery.

There are lots of very famous people buried there, not only French, though my photos focus on French people, for the most part

Edith Piaf                                          Henri Salvador

A very popular grave is Edith Piaf‘s  – by the way please say [éditt], like the French, do not pronounce the ‘th’. We had some difficulty finding her, but then we just followed a large group of tourist with their tour guide. Easy!

And we stumbled upon Henri Salvador, another famous French singer, though of course not as popular oversees.

And there are writers!

Marcel Proust                                                                          Colette

Marcel Proust’s link goes to one of my reviews of his great work.

Two other famous people, or rather 3!

Oscar Wilde’s has been visited by so many people who wanted to leave track of their coming, that it is now protected with plexiglass. It does not stop his admirers to leave their red lips kisses and many more graffitis. It is one of the most visited tombs, with some wild parties going on around it sometimes…

But I was much more attracted by this one:

This is the grave of Héloïse and Abélard, probably the most famous lovers of the Middle Ages.

I could go on and on, and you can find a gallery here, and see the list of the most famous people buried there (scroll down to the Burials section.)

I would like to show you now a few whimsical sights:

This is probably the best representation of the expression “time flies” I have ever seen!

Child represented with his dog                     Inventor with his machine!

Memorial to the victims of the Flossenburg concentration camp

I was really intrigued by this one:

It says that the people buried there died at 28,000 feet! I was intrigued and then read that they had been the victims of a balloon accident!

Some tombs are very artistic:

Tomb of an Orthodox prince

Some cool statues:

And some more general views:

If you want more and see by yourself, there’s a fantastic virtual tour, you can see absolutely everything, choose the tombs you want to visit, and wander from street to street.




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