Père Lachaise Cemetery

When we first headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery on New Year’s Eve day, it was closed for reasons of security. There was no mention of this on the website, naturally. And, naturally, the site that has the most logical name has no actual affiliation with the cemetery, so you have to hunt around and find it within the Jardins de Paris uber-site. Because, naturally, you’d look for information about a cemetery on a garden website.

Sigh.

We got our hotel guy to find phone numbers for us, and I called many times but no one answered, so we headed blind back out to the cemetery on January 3. It was open, and we swooned at the decaying beauty that enveloped us.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery

We couldn’t stop taking pictures. It was ridiculously beautiful, and so foreign to the American concept of one grave, one body.

Jim Morrison’s grave was there, of course, tucked away and cordoned off. I felt bad for the other graves next to his; no one paid any attention to them. I’m not big on the visiting of graves, as I prefer to see where famous people lived, not died.

We joked about how the cemetery must be a goth kid’s dream, but it really was an amazing place. I’m going to make a point of visiting cemeteries in cities and towns from now on.

13 thoughts on “Père Lachaise Cemetery

  1. I think Edith Piaf is buried there as well. I thought the scene around Morrison’s grave was so bizarre. It was years ago but there were people sitting on his grave smoking and chilling like they were at a rock concert.

    Usually cemeteries freak me out but this one is just gorgeous.

  2. Ms. Piaf is there; my cousin sought her out and took pics. The Morrison grave is now gated off; you can see it on my Flickr set. It’s quite depressing, actually, and sad given that so many other graves are ignored by the trekking masses to huddle around his grave.

  3. I’m also a great fan of cemetries next time you come I’ll take you to the non catholic cemetry in Rome where all the expats are buried! it is as beautiful as Perè Lachaise and lots a vips are buried Keats and Shelly for example.. since youre in the cemetry mood thing next time you go to Paris visit the mont martre one you can spot the most outrageous tomb I’ve ever seen .. Dalida! ciao!

  4. Reasons of security? Who are they kidding? Granted, it’s been years since I was there, but all the security I saw you could have put in a thimble and had room left over. Kids were sitting smoking and drinking on Morrison’s grave (not to mention all the graffiti around it, which I have to assume was done during opening hours). Someone had scaled the fence around Abelard and Heloise’s tombs to tuck roses into the folds of their hands.

    I think they just didn’t feel like paying anyone to open the gates that day.

  5. I think ol’ Jimbo’s getting the heave-ho, as people do from time to time in PL.

    I lucked out last time I went there: this strange gypsy-looking guy offered to give us a tour, and his English was pretty good, so I said yeah. We didn’t have much time — we were due for lunch at a friend’s up the hill — so he gave us the streamlined tour, with some stuff I”d never known about. The scion of I think the Lalique family has a crystal tombstone, and a lot of people have been cremated and set into a huge wall of drawers for the urns, so that was a here! here! here! here! experience with this guy. I was awestruck: not only did he show us a ton of stuff, but he managed to end the tour by the gate we needed to leave by to get to Gérard’s place on time. I tipped him 20 euros, justifying it by the free lunch we were going to get, which would have set the two of us back that much at least at a cafe.

  6. I love that place. I was amazed that when I went a Security Guard stood at Morrison’s grave. Kinda creepy. One lone guy, standing at one lone grave. That would creep me out if I were him! A group of French school children surrounded Piaf’s grave and with the help of their teacher, sang Piaf’s songs as I listened nearby. It was a wonderful day!

  7. I had a quick shag in père lachaise – I think it was in the Famille Fabi’s tomb or something like that.Near Abelard and Heloise’s tomb. It was July 1989 – 200th celebrations of the Bastille.You can imagine the ambience! I’ve got great photos too of that place then, with loads of pussycats basking in the sun amongst all these gothic tombs and flowers and stillness that a graveyard has… We had a grave map, so that you could find people! I remember Colette’s tomb is a double bed? Isadora Duncan was there as well, if i remember, and Merleau Ponty,sara Bernhardt, jean moulin, bla bla etc and there was an amazing sculpture, all twisted and skeletal to commemorate Holocaust victims. Memories….. of a grave visit. Sex and death!

  8. Oscar Wilde is also buried at Père Lachaise. His tomb is covered in lipstick kisses, which I am not sure what he would have thought of that.

    I love old European cemeteries. London has 7 nineteenth century cemeteries (called the The Magnificent Seven).

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