Monday, 3 January 2011

A cemetery full of art and dead celebrities: Père Lachaise (Paris)

One of the visitis I enjoyed the most in our second trip to Paris, was the visit to this beautiful and of course peaceful cemetery in Paris: Père Lachaise, also commonly known by "the city of dead". I'm going to give you some tips that helped me.

How to get there:

Père Lachaise is one of the biggest cemeteries in Europe so if you are in a rush (unless you live in Paris and can go back different days) what you need to do first is to decide what tombs you are interested in. The cemetery has many doors, I was for example very interested in seeing Oscar Wildes' tomb and Edit Piaf (they were on the same area) so in order to do this you need to :

Take line 3, stop: Gambetta, walk the street "rue de Rondeaux" and only in a couple of minutes you will get to "Porte Gambetta" - secondary entry of the cemetery. I personally liked more this part of the cemetery where you can find many tribute tombs/statues to jews who died in concentration camps like the one in Dachau or in Auschwitz ,even tribute to casualties who died on the Airfrance crash over Rio de Janeiro a couple of years ago.

If on the contrary you are more interested to see Jim's Morrison's tomb or other musicians or composers like Chopin, they are just on the opposite side of the cemetery so you will need to take a different metro line to go to the main entry:

Take Line 2, Metro Phillippe Auguste and take the Rue de Repos,only on 5 minute walk, you will find on your right the Porte du Rep'os. Once you get in, on your left oyu can find a house where free maps of the cemetery with all the division numbers are given (this is essential not to get lost, believe me!).

What we did as we only had 4 hours to visit the cemetery we took the metro twice not to lose time and I don't regret it,it was the best decision and we got to see it all! (you can buy, on the metro machine, a bunch of 10- metro ticket for 12 euros and you have for 12 trips!).

All the above may look simple but it took me a while to do a research to go to the right cemetery door to see the celebrities I wanted to see.

Further Tips:

Have a look at the cemetery web page before you go and you get a list of celebrities and in what division (it's divided in division numbers) and number of the tomb they are located.

Take into consideration that free maps for the cemetery are only given on the main entry , on the other entries you will find a sign with all the numbers only at the entrance ,what we did was to take a picture of it with the camera since we didn't have a map (because Oscar Wilde is at the other end,as I have explained) and this helped us a lot!

Preferably go in spring time where it has to be nice to walk along the cemetery and see all pieces of art that you find, can see some on the pics.We went in winter time and it was very cold.. so you don't enjoy it that much if the weather is not nice.

I found beautiful the garden of remembrance very interesting, it's very close to the Gambetta door inside the cemetery. To me it was the first time that i saw human dead ashes spread on a garden with roses..some ignorant tourists were stepping on to the garden...please don't do that.. and please respect the tombs, too.. I still can't believe the amount of red lip kisses I saw on Oscar Wilde's tomb..,which it was a pity .

The cemetery is a bit far away form the city, so I'd advise you to go very early in the morning to be there at the opening time and spend the morning there, we for example wen to the cemetery and in the afternoon as it was a Monday , we went to the flee market , which is only on at the weekends and on Mondays.

If somebody finds Maria's Callas tomb please let me know, we didn't have time to go and see her.

Web page for the cemetery can be found:

Have a look at it and see what does it look like, you can even do a virtual tour and look up the celebrities on a search engine! Surprisingly enough, this cemetery is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Paris.

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