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This article is about the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. First let’s see how to reach Père Lachaise via mass transportation. The Père Lachaise Métro station is served by Lines and . It is located near the southwestern corner of the cemetery. There’s a small entrance to the cemetery right across the street. A bus stop, Roquette-Père Lachaise, is right in front of the main entrance. Buses and serve the stop. This is the main (south) entrance itself, at the top of Roquette Street. Another Métro station, Gambetta, is near the north side of the cemetery. It’s about one block north of the cemetery’s north entrance, seen here. A number of places near the entrances sell maps, which can be very useful. Back to the main entrance. “… their hope is full of immortality,” a quote from the Bible (Wisdom ) “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John ) Now let’s stroll through the front gate. Looking north. A generic memorial to the dead is off in the distance. There are maps at each entrance, but it’s easier if you have your own. The sign lists only the best known of thousands of famous graves. More than a million people have been buried or cremated here. A sign reminds us that this is a cemetery as well as a place to walk. The cemetery is divided into divisions and sections, with signs. Some tombs are very elaborate. A very modest grave, with just a simple marker. Many graves seem to have been forgotten.
Graves seem to be magnets for moss, for some reason. Graves could once be leased in perpetuity. That’s not possible today. The earliest graves date from the founding of the cemetery in . A few people at Père Lachaise died far too young. This reminds me of the Haunted Mansion cemetery at Disneyland. Hmm … Père Lachaise is best known as a resting place of the famous. I only have time here to show a few of them out of thousands. Colette's grave is very popular and easy to find. Here’s Balzac’s grave, being refurbished at city expense. And here’s Jim Morrison, who’s been dead longer than he was alive. Groupies still vandalize the tombs next door. Many of his fans seem to be inveterate vandals. There used to be a statue of Jim’s head on his grave, but it was stolen. Another tomb in Division attracts its own groupies. Of course, that would be Oscar Wilde. A glass shield covered with graffiti protects the tomb now. A sign asks groupies not to deface the tomb. The graffiti is unusual in that sometimes it consists of lipstick kisses. The glass barrier was installed in . A certain celebrity tomb in Division is hard to locate. You can walk right past Sarah Bernhardt’s grave and not see it. Make a note of this gray tomb here, it can help you to find hers. And here it is, behind two other huge tombs and some dense bushes. There she is, with the bushes out of the way. She must have been petite.
A show-business love story Simone SIgnoret and Yves Montand. And here’s the elaborate and fenced-in tomb of lovers Héloïse and Abélard. This looks like Allan Kardec’s tomb, but it’s actually one of his disciples. Here’s Allan’s tomb, always surrounded by flowers. And this is Edith Piaf. Her fans are not vandals. This was a rare moment when no fans were around the grave. Her grave is always tidy.. There are many other celebrities, great and small. Yes, this is THE Rossini—but his remains have been moved to Florence. And this is a former French president. This is Gilbert Bécaud, a popular French singer. Next door is Marie Trintignant, a French actress who died young. Now let’s visit the crematorium and columbarium. Père Lachaise crematorium handles a third of all the cremations in Paris. The crematoria are at the back. The front is for funeral ceremonies. The columbarium is both below ground and above ground. I couldn’t help thinking of a silver sphere while I was down here. Many of the deceased are above ground in these galeries.
On the north side of the cemetery, there’s a lawn where ashes are spread. The sign asks people not to walk on the lawn, for obvious reasons. The white lines are freshly-spread ashes (from the same day I filmed). There are several generic memorials on the lawn where flowers can be left. Flower petals are sometimes left on the lawn after a ceremony. Otherwise flowers are just put in the area provided for them. Speaking of memorials … there are many of them at Père Lachaise. This is the generic memorial to all the dead, near the main entrance. This is a memorial to the First World War. Very lifelike sculptures. This is a monument to Paris city workers who have died. Another monument to Paris city workers who died in the war in Algeria. There are lots of war memorials at the northern end of the cemetery. This is a monument to Armenian solders fighting on behalf of France. Ditto for Italian soldiers. Ditto for Belgian soldiers. And Czech soldiers. And Russian soldiers. And Polish soldiers. Some of the monuments are unusual in shape. This is the monument to the Communards who were shot here in . And then there are several monuments to air disasters. They typically list the passengers and crew who were lost in the crash. And this is the most recent of the group … for Air France Flight . The cemetery hosts an assortment of Holocaust memorials. They follow a fairly standard pattern. There’s one that I find particularly touching, however. The inscription duplicates a message scrawled in a detention camp. “There are French people here,” roughly translated. These Ravensbrück roses were bred to honor deportees. Car rental Nice Airport is an excellent way to get about when in France.
Their official name is “Resurrection,” inspired by a poem, seen here. Not all residents of Père Lachaise are dead … Bugs abound on the tombs, and hungry spiders are ready for them. Not all of the insects are creepy crawlers. And there are eerie birds in residence, too (sorry about the focus). As well as some well-fed predators. I’m glad I’m not superstitious. Père Lachaise Cemetery is also a very nice place to go for a quiet walk. It may be a cemetery, but it’s a really photogenic cemetery. Narrow paths on the hilly terrain allow access to all tombs. There’s a busy street on the other side of that wall, that’s why you hear traffic noise. There are also wide “avenues” paved with (very uneven) cobblestones. There are many places to sit down and relax. The variety of tombs makes just about every corner fascinating. Unpaved “chemins” sometimes run for long distances among the graves. This very narrow path has a railing for safety.. This one is not on a slope so no railing is needed. The terrain of the cemetery is quite hilly, with many steps. It can be tiring.
The sheer profusion of tombs in every direction is impressive. Most of the cemetery is shaded by large trees. Signs help, although there are usually no ground markings. The divisions are further divided into sections. Strolling around is very enjoyable if you don’t mind the dead bodies. It’s better than just a park because there’s so much more to see. Left The cemetery chapel. Right A huge monument to Adolphe Thiers. All real flowers wilt,. Cemetery staff remove them after two weeks or so. The north side has more open grave areas with fewer large trees. They have more of a garden atmosphere to them. These graves are near the Communard’s Wall. The city allows plants to grow wild in a few spots. This is one of the broader paths among the tombs, and it’s quite long. The differences in elevation are pretty to look at, but exhausting. Each part of the cemetery has its unique charm. This path is much prettier in real life. It would take years to visit all the tombs in detail. This is one of the easternmost exits from the cemetery. This is the administration building on the south side of the cemetery. This is an alternate exit near the administration building.