Visiting Pere Lachaise In Paris – The World’s Most Star-Studded Cemetery!

Welcome To Paris’ Most Famous Cemetery…

I’ve been to Paris at least a dozen times – yet this was the first time I’d ever set foot inside the iconic Père Lachaise Cemetery, which is the largest cemetery in Paris. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is also the most visited necropolis in the world.

In 2019, before the world shut down, I got the chance to explore – and yes, get lost – inside the most star-studded cemetery in the world.

I was surprised with how packed it was, yet how well laid out as well – and any smart person would buy a map to find all of the famous graves there….of course, I didn’t…

Still, the Cemetery is beautifully laid out, with nice cobblestone roads and well-maintained paths along the grave sites:

Here’s a bit of history before we go exploring:

The cemetery of Père Lachaise opened in 1804, and takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt during 1682 on the site of the chapel.

Callas, Colette and Chopin Too…

As I said, this cemetery is filled with famous people….Singer Marias Callas is buried here, as is the iconic French Author Colette as well as Polish Composer/Pianist Chopin:

I found the grave for French Novelist Marcel Proust – as well as fellow Author Honore de Balzac:

I also shot a short video of the cemetary as I walked among the tombstones and shrines, with one specific grave site in mind:

Edith Piaf was a French national treasure, and I wanted to pay my respects before heading for perhaps the most famous gravesite here – that of The Doors Lead Singer and Songwriter, Jim Morrison…here is what it’s like to approach it…

As you saw from my video, the location is very nondescript – no special signs of any kind, and the site itself is modest, with the exception of the material left by fans:

People were quiet and respectful here – just as they were in all parts of the cemetery.

Père Lachaise is still an operating cemetery and accepting new burials – as you can see, Composer Michel Legrand was just buried here a few years ago:

The grave sites at Père Lachaise range from simple headstones to oversized monuments. Wikipedia notes that many of the tombs are the size and shape of a telephone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers.

The cemetery combines the remains of multiple family members in the same grave site. At Père Lachaise, they often reopen a grave after a body has decomposed and inter another coffin – of course, when it’s the same family.

According to wikipedia, one million people have been buried at the cemetery. Along with the stored remains in the Aux Morts ossuary aded in, the number of human remains exceeds 2–3 million!

I had a fascinating visit to this incredible cemetery – and I recently shared another great Paris site I had never visited before:

Vincennes Castle was awe-inspiring – if you want to see more pictures and some videos as well, click here:

If you have any plans to visit Paris, here’s the best tip I can offer:

Eat At The Eiffel Tower!

That’s us with the iconic Eiffel Tower behind us – and you see that glassed in area on the lower right? It’s a restaurant!

Not only is the food delicious, but there’s a secret way to get to it that saves you a ton of time in line!

Click here for the details:

Let me know if you’ve visited Pere Lachaise…

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Categories: Art, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, Paris, Pop Culture, Real Estate, Talent/Celebrities, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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12 replies

  1. I love the beauty of the different monuments. imagine the mix of talent when they all come out to play at night )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love cemeteries. I hope you get to see the old ones in New England one day. I’m flabbergasted at how huge this one is and how close together the graves are. Also, the many different types of graves are fascinating, like the phone booth. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful. It is beautiful, and I would be totally lost without a map.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed the cemetery walk. Oscar Wilde was my favorite stop. The tall trees and ancient head stones felt more like a park. Not somber at all.

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  4. We try and visit cemeteries in new cities, but this one probably tops them all! thanks for sharing this treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This place is amazing. I included it in my next book, Amanda in Paris: Fire in the Cathedral. I hope I described it well enough. Amanda visits Jim Morrison’s grave. Unfortunately, I have not been there, yet. Your pictures and videos are great and give a very good idea of what it is like. Some very famous folks are there including Oscar Wilde.

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  6. That cemetery has really established itself on the Paris Tourist Trail now. Thanks for the tour, John.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi John,
    Great to catch up, and I loved seeing your photos and footage of Père Lachaise Cemetery. I went there twice when I was in Paris in 1992 and the attraction then was also Jimmy Morrison’s grave. When I was there, people had written Jimmy on the backs of other graves with arrows pointing to where he was. In a sense it was quite disrespectful, but it also showed how huge he was. Here’s a flash back to my time in Paris: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/p-a-different-perspective-of-paris-a-z-challenge/
    I had very mixed views about it at the time. One thing I noticed when really struck me in hindsight was how many people we met there were rather lost and weren’t really sure what they were doing or where they were going. Most of us had just finished university, and we were finding and losing ourselves and falling in love. I got dumped in Paris which was really awful and I sat beside the River Seine writing really angsty poetry at 3.00am without any thought to my safety at all. That all climaxed in a solo reading at the Shakespeare Bookshop. Did you make it there? It was a extraordinary place, especially back then when George Whitman still owned the place. He actually grilled me before I could do a reading. So that was quite an honour. That’s where the likes of Hemingway used to hang out when they were in Paris but I don’t think I knew that then.
    Anyway, I chat about Paris all night.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this, great to hear from you – I will read your post and follow as well…yes, the Shakespeare Bookshop is an iconic location as well in a magical city! Isn’t it nice that you were able to sit out at 3a and NOT be worried?

      Like

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