Last Saturday, Mr. and I planned to visit a friend who lives in the Paris suburb. As our rendez-vous was planned in the afternoon, we took the chance to visit the Père Lachaise cemetery in the morning. This cemetery is probably one of the most famous cemeteries in the world and definitely the biggest one here in France.
Well, what makes it known all around the world is the people who are buried here. Famous writers, musicians, politicians and others, whether they are french or not. Situated in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, this cemetery extents till 44 hectares and until this day, more than 1 million of burials had took place here.
Established in 1804 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, it was not until 1817 that people chose to be buried here, mainly because the administrators of this cemetery had this genius idea of transferring two of French notable writers, Molière and La Fontaine to this area. The strategy seemed to be paid off as more and more people started to ask to be buried here among famous people.
As Mr. and I refused to claim ourselves as tourist, we snobbishly refused to buy the cemetery plan, where they note important or most interesting burial places to visit. Well, my dear friends, believe me, buy one of those maps if you want to fully enjoy your visit!
So how do we survived without the map? After an almost treasure-hunt-look-alike walk, we managed to find a few famous people tombs, mostly musicians and artists. Actually, we kinda followed another young couple, who had a map but of course we pretended to not following them (fearing that they might think that we are some crazy people stalking them haha) . We also took some cue and looked for places where there were most people gathering around and taking photos of tombs, of course.
First discovery is the Irish novelist and poet, Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde died in 1900 of cerebral meningtis and first burried in Cimetière de Bagneux. He was then transferred to Pere Lachaise in 1909.
Then we founded French popular singer Edith Piaf. Born as Edith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, she started to became famous around the 40’s but unfortunately had difficulties with morphine and alcohol. Piaf died at 47 years old and her funeral ceremony was attended by more than 100 000 fans.
The next famous person is insisted by Mr. Me, not really knowing who this person is, just tagged along and tried my best to put to use my orientation skill but of course, to no avail. We are talking about Jim Morrison here actually. For those who are like me, Jim Morission is one of the rock icon of the 60’s and lead singer of The Doors. Officially, he was founded dead in a bathtub but apparently there are rumours and many other conspiracy theories around his death.
Last but not least, let me present you to Frédéric Chopin’s tomb. A great composer and virtuoso pianist, Chopin is of French and Polish descendant and settled in Paris during the Poland’s Great Emigration. For most of his life, Chopin suffered from poor health and finally passed away at the age of 39.
Undoubtedly there are more famous people’s tomb that you can visit other than this, such as Honoré de Balzac, Maria Callas and Camille Pissaro. The entrance is free and it is opened form 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in weekdays (with slight differences during weekends). You can also have a virtual visit on their website but it is surely worth the visit once in your lifetime.
Have a nice day and till next post. Love.
15 Boulevard de Ménilmontant 75011
Website – http://www.pere-lachaise.com/