Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a must stroll through when in Paris. For most of the people vacation is defied by a tranquil beach, famous museum or historical castle. Kat and I however like to include catacombs, cemeteries or a bone churches to that list. Every country we travel we find time to take a walk in the park or cemetery. In Europe especially a lot of cemeteries have dark past. In this case we went to see some famous graves of the greats. Poets, composers, political figures and entertainers are buried here. Having over 3 million visitors a year it should definitely be on your list when in Paris as it is the most visited cemetery in the world.
Established in 1804 outside of city it had only 13 graves the first year. It remained mostly empty for the first couple of years until the management of the cemetery made decisions to move in remains of famous people. French play writer Moliere and very popular French poet Jean de la Fontaine ended up being moved here. That made it for a very desirable neighbors to be buried next to at that time.
Kat and I took metro that morning to Pere Lachaise station which was about 500 yards from the main entrance. When you enter though the main gate there is a conservation office where you can pickup a free brochure with a map. There is also a big board with the cemetery layout. At nearly 110 acres it is easy to get little lost.
We were mostly there for two names in particular. Graves of Jim Morrison from The Doors and Frederic Chopin a world-renowned Polish pianist and a composer were on our agenda. A few more names caught our eyes like Edith Piaf, a singer from my grandparents generation and Joseph Guillotin whose name is associated with execution device.
After locating few names on the maps we headed out in general direction. The avenues feel more like a park than a cemetery. Lined with trees the cobblestone alleys take you up and down the hilly sides. Elaborate tombs with sculptures and mini chapels are everywhere. Felt very peaceful and settled just walking about.
Following the map we made it to Jim Morrison’s grave site. There were few people there taking selfies already. Because of previews vandalism acts like spray painting and such there is a barrier around the grave now. You are still able to get close enough to pay respects or take a selfie for your bragging rights. Grave was well taken care of. There was one faded photograph of Jim on the tombstone and a lots of fresh flowers and candles.
Next we visited Frederic Chopin’s grave. Romantic era piano virtuoso that is still regarded as one of the best in classical music. 170 years since his passing and his grave is still very well taken care of. Lots of small Polish flags and fresh flower arrangements.
I remember when visiting National Theater in San José, Costa Rica seeing a Frederic Chopin statue located in the courtyard. The local students of classical music were playing his compositions center stage. Sitting in that theater with no other distractions and just listening…. one of those moments that you had to be there to appreciate.
Moving away from Jim and Freddy we wondered about for couple more hours as it is an a captivating place. We will definitely be visiting this cemetery next time we are in Paris and we’d recommend it to others. For us it was time to go and find a restaurant for a lunch. See if French onion soup in France is different from back home. It also was about that time for me to rehydrate with 1664(french beer).
Now pack and get out there! For more of our pictures please check us out on Instagram.