Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
I like two types of cemeteries quite different from each other: the British war cemeteries (ref. my tips on Ypres (Belgium) and Etaples (North of France) with their beautiful layout of all the same tombs of young men who should have lived three times as long as they did and the Père Lachaise cemetery with all the different tombs of people who lived a normal life that ended by illness, sometimes an accident or just age.
What surprised me at the Père Lachaise is the complete absence of geometrical layout as found in most cemeteries of our regions. This cemetery of 44 hectares surprised me by its aspect of an "English garden" with uneven alleys, ways and paths intermingling in an inextricable labyrinth.
The vegetation, more than 5.000 tall trees of all species, dominates everything, even the highest monuments. The hilliness of the cemetery, the roots of the trees destabilized many monuments which lean towards their neighbours. The Père Lachaise is known as the largest garden of Paris, but it is an almost wild garden. The cobblestones of the alleys do not facilitate walking.
There are approximately 70.000 monuments of all styles: antique, gothic, haussmannien or simple tomb stones.
The shape of funeral monuments mostly met is that of a “little house” serving for all the family what explains why there are approximately 300.000 bodies buried here.
From these more than 200 belong to celebrities and here starts the recreational aspect of visiting the cemetery in search of the famous tombs. Here I can say "Tell me what tomb you visited and I will tell you who you are": Jim Morrison or Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde or Molière, La Fontaine, Balzac, Proust?
My favored tomb is that of the sculptor and painter Arman who wrote as an epitaph on his tomb:
ENFIN SEUL! ALONE AT LAST!
Camille Marceau daughter of Mime artist and revivalist, Marcel Marceau died in Paris Last night.
It was in the 60.s in Johannesburg, either the HIs Majesty or Colluseum Theatre that i was privileged to see him perform.
His character Bip, the white-faced clown in striped pullover and hat, made his first appearance in 1947.
At 78 in 2001, Marcel Marceau has been chosen to be a United Nations goodwill ambassador for the older generation, where the aged population over 60 years is predicted to be almost two billion by the year 2050, compared to 606 million today.
Cemetaries are part of Paris, many famed personalities are buried there, and on my next visit, at Pere Lachaise cemetery i will pay tribute to Marcel Marceau as an mddlle aged global ciitizen
Fondest memory: ir's personality, it aloofness probably beacause i do not speak the language, its sophistication
Many French musicians and singers are buried on the hill of this cemetery. The most famous (and one of the most beautiful) tomb is that of Frédéric Chopin, who had Polish origins but lived in France for a long time.
You will see the tombs of several French singers of the 20th century: Edith Piaf with her last husband Théo Sarapo (second photo), Yves Montand and his wife Simone Signoret (an actress; third picture), Serge Gainsbourg and so on.
Let us not forget the painters who rest here: have a look at Théodore Géricault's monumental tomb where he is sculptured with his masterpiece The raft of the Medusa below; and, by contrast, the simple black tomb of Eugène Delacroix.
Many famous writers are buried in this cemetery.
Most of them are giants of the French literature: Molière and La Fontaine rest close to each other (second photo), since both of them were great at depicting people's defaults in an ironic way. Here you also see the tombs of French novelist Honoré de Balzac and poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
However, one of the most famous and visited tombs of the cemetery belongs to an Irish: Oscar Wilde. His tomb is covered with many kisses that have made the name almost unreadable.
There is another tomb connected to the world of literature: that of Heloise and Abelard, the two legendary lovers. Their actual burial place is uncertain, but this tomb celebrates them anyway.
Visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery in the East of Paris (Métro : Père Lachaise or Gambetta).
The Pere Lachaise was the Louis Xiv 's confessor and the graveyard is settled on the gardens of his mansion.
Fondest memory: Set up at the beginning of the XIX° Century on the former gardens of the Father Lachaise, Louis the 14th 's confessor.
A lot of famous people : Jim Morisson (each time I go there someone asks me where is his grave), Allan Kardec the spirit (often, there is somebody, the hand put on the grave, linked with him by the mind), Molière, La Fontaine, Héloïse and Abélard the lovers (the oldest tenants of the cemetary), Chappe (there is a telegraph on his grave), Victor Noir (his bronze statue is lying on the grave), Oscar Wilde (a crazy grave), Berlioz, Chopin, Edith Piaf, ...
And a lot of beautiful statues, odd graves, moving epitaths (look at the pic).
You can buy for 1,50€ a map with the names of the most famous occupiers at a gate of the cemetary.
Not a tourist place, eventhough I met here, 10 years ago, an American teacher of French.
A good place for a photographer.
See the travelogue about the Cemetary.
" En vous promenant dans cet élégant cimetière (du Père-Lachaise), vous verrez un terrain acheté à perpétuité, où s'élève une tombe de gazon surmontée d'une croix en bois noir (...) "
BALZAC, Illusions perdues, Pl., t. IV.
" While walking you in this elegant cemetery (of the Père-Lachaise), you will see a bought in perpetuity land, where rises a tomb of lawn surmounted of a cross in woods black (...) "
BALZAC, lost Illusions, Pl., t. IV.
Voir aussi - see also Paris-Cimetière du Père Lachaise
Les accès - The accesses
Par les transports en commun.
Métro : Père-Lachaise, Gambetta (ligne 3). Philippe Auguste (ligne 2).
Bus : lignes 61 et 69.
En voiture : il suffit de retrouver le 20 ème arrondissement et l'Avenue du Père-Lachaise si vous vous garez à Gambetta (assez jolies ruelles autour du mur) ou le boulevard de Ménilmontant si vous préférez le bas pour l'entrée monumentale.
Pour se garer, c'est coton, il y a foule autour du cimetière.
Néanmoins, vous avez le choix pour les entrées, puisqu'il y a aussi l'entrée de la Poterne (boulevard de Ménilmontant), la rue de la Réunion, et la rue du Repos.
By public transportation.
Subway : Father - Lachaise, Gambetta (line 3). Philippe Auguste (line 2).
Bus : lines 61 and 69.
By car : to recover the 20th precinct and the Avenue du Père Lachaise is sufficient if you park to Gambetta (pretty enough alleys around the wall) or the Boulevard de Ménilmontant if you prefer the low for the monumental entry.
To park, it is not easy, there is crowd around the cemetery.
Nevertheless, you have the choice for the entries, since there is also the entry of the Poterne (boulevard of Ménilmontant), the Rue de la Réunion, and the Rue du Repos.
Les horaires - The timetables
Rapport au manque d'éclairage, les horaires fluctuent sur l'année.
Du 16 mars au 5 novembre, de 7h30 à 18h00.
Du 6 novembre au 15 janvier, de 8h30 à 17h00.
Du 16 janvier au 15 mars, de 8h00 à 17h30.
Pas de panique si vous n'avez pas de montre, les gardiens sifflent pendant dix minutes un quart d'heure avant la fermeture.
Report to the lack of lighting, the timetables fluctuate on the year.
Of March 16 to November 5, of 7h30 to 18h00.
Of November 6 to January 15, of 8h30 to 17h00.
Of January 16 to March 15, of 8h00 to 17h30.
No panic if you don't have a watch, the guards hiss during ten minutes a quarter of hour before closing.
The single most wonderful thing we did in Paris (besides eat) was visit Pere-LeChaise Cemetery. It is absolutely beautiful. People back home, who scoffed at the idea, are dropping their jaws at my photos. If you like B&W photography it's a great place to get really moody shots.
The statuary is excellent. We had more fun when we weren't searching for certain graves, but just wandering around and coming upon beautiful monuments.
One thing: we'd been told to look for cats but only saw one. Montmartre Cemetery, however, had DOZENS of cats and they let you walk right up to them. We took loads of pictures--cats in a cemetery make for lovely shots!
Montmartre was also much less crowded--we didn't see another soul most of the time we were there.
Fondest memory: I miss the food! I miss prix-fixe menus!
Go to anyone of the old cemeteries of Paris. Pere Lachaise is great. I love wandering the old tombs and looking at not only the art work but seeing how the famous and infamous are buried. Pere Lachaise is famous for Jim Morrison (just follow any group of teens) but also has Chopin, George Sand, Helosie & Abelarde, Yves Montand and Simone Sinoret as well as many other greats of French history.
Fondest memory: Oddly enough this was in Pere Lachaise. While trying to find the grave of someone, I saw a well dressed woman on her knees cleaning one of the more modern tombs(they are sleek,low to the ground models). She had her bucket and was sudsing and scrubbing away. When she saw me she proceeded a discourse on why she was cleaning the grave and her frustration at its location in the cemetary. I got this from gestures and intuition as I did not speak French at the time. On the tomb were several war medallions engraved on the side. It was evident that she felt her husband deserved better care and a better location. From the conditon of the tomb I also gathered the death was in the last year or so. I wanted to take a picture of this proud woman of France, but that would have been intrusive so I leaned down and gave her a hug and left her in her task. I've never forgotten that time. It was such a quiet and personal moment in someone's life to witness. As a tourist it is not common to come across those little quiet events in the lives of the people we visit. We usually just observe them at work or from a distance and never witness them as people, just ornaments of our trip.