Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris: Where the In Crowd is Buried
After the big-ticket items like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre one of the things I most wanted to see was Pre Lachaise cemetery. Little did I know how many famous tombs Id see there.
Pre Lachaise is not only the largest cemetery in Paris, its one of the worlds best known cemeteries. Certainly this is partly due to Edith Piaf's grave, but the cemetery is almost literally packed with so many famous names that even someone who had no idea who Edith Piaf was would find someone to be impressed by. Whats amusing about that is the fact that when the cemetery was originally built in 1804, it was deemed too far from the city, so few people chose to be laid to rest there. It wasnt until nearly 1820 that cemetery administrators had the bright idea of moving some famous remains to Pre Lachaise - and it wasnt long until ordinary folks wanted to be buried in the same cemetery as the notables. Even in death, they wanted to be in with the in crowd.
The list of famous names who are buried at Pre Lachaise is almost overwhelmingly long, and the cemetery itself is so maze-like that I suppose I shouldnt have been surprised to find a vendor selling Pre Lachaise cemetery maps at the entrance. But I bought one, and Im so glad I did - it was excellently laid out and well marked, and I had no trouble finding every single tomb and grave marker that I wanted to.
Some of the people buried at Pre Lachaise are:Honore de Balzac - 19th century French novelistSarah Bernhardt - French actressGeorges Bizet - French composer & conductorFrederic Chopin - Polish composer (his heart is entombed in Poland)Jacques-Louis David - French painter (his heart is entombed here, but the rest of his body is not - he was exiled as a revolutionary & his body wasnt permitted back into the country)Eugene Delacroix - French painterIsadora Duncan - American dancerTheodore Gericault - French painterMarcel Marceau - French MimeAmadeo Modigliani - Italian painter & sculptorMoliere - 17th century French playwrightJim Morrison - American singer for The DoorsEdith Piaf - French singerMarcel Proust - French writerGeorges-Pierre Seurat - French painterGertrude Stein - American writerAlice B. Toklas - American writer & Steins partnerOscar Wilde - Irish novelist & poetRichard Wright - American writerLocation: 16 Rue du Repos in the 20th arrondissement, on a hill overlooking the city
How to Get There: Luckily, even though its a bit outside the city center, there are three Paris Metro stops you can use to get to the cemetery. The one called Pre Lachaise is on Metro lines 2 and 3 and puts you close to a side entrance of the cemetery. The one called Philippe Auguste is on line 2 and is closest to the main cemetery entrance. The one called Gambetta is on line 3 and is closest to Oscar Wildes tomb and the highest points of the cemetery grounds. Hours: November 6 through March 15: Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 5:30pm; Saturday, 8:30am to 5:30 pm; Sunday & public holidays, 9:00am to 5:30pm
March 16 through November 5: Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm; Saturday, 8:30am to 6:00pm; Sunday & public holidays, 9:00am to 6:00pm
The gates close to new visitors 15 minutes before closing time each day. Admission: Free Good to Know: Before you go in, find someone selling a walking map of Pre Lachaise and buy it. Theyre not for sale at the guard huts at the entrances to the cemetery, but most of the florists and news stands in the area will have them. Once you get inside the cemetery, youll be glad you hunted a map down; and besides, the cemeterys free, so you can afford a few euro for the map!
Also before you go in, empty your bladder. Yes, there are toilets in a few places inside the cemetery, but in my experience theyre not places that ladies are going to want to go into, and they never seem to have toilet paper, either. Just go before you go in, thats all. More Information: There is an awesome interactive virtual tour of Pre Lachaise which is well worth playing around with. The plus-signs mark the locations of famous grave sites, and you can also search by name or even just the first letter of the last name.
TravelFan, Thanks for the tip on the Paris cemetary. It sounds very interesting. My hubby and I are taking our first trip to Paris this August and would never have known this was there. Great pics too!