Pere Lachaise, with 3.5 million visitors a year, is the most visited cemetery on earth. It is hauntingly beautiful and serene with hills and tree lined walking paths (which look gorgeous in the fall!).
The most famous person buried here is Jim Morrison, but Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf and others rest inside it’s walls.
Napoleon opened the cemetery in 1804 and the first person buried here was a 5-year-old girl named Adelaide. At the time, the cemetery was so far out from the city no one wanted to be buried at Pere Lachaise.
Whatever marketing tactics they used were successful because by 1830 there were 33,000 people buried here. And now? Approximately ONE MILLION.
As you can imagine, they’re not handing those plots over so willy-nilly anymore. Unless you die in Paris or you live here, you’re not getting buried at Pere Lachaise.
My dear husband was so patient as I obsessively took pictures and walked around. I could’ve spent all day there.
I’m lying. I could’ve spent two days there.
Anyway, here are some of those photos:
The juxtaposition of the older tombs alongside the sleek, modern ones was interesting. I love the little lamb on the top of this one.
This was the first grave that grabbed my attention (really, no pun intended). Those arms holding onto each other? So simple, but moving. Handshakes used in funerary art are also used to symbolize a farewell from earthly existence and a welcome into heaven.
Check out that crow. There were a lot of crows which just added to the poignancy of the cemetery.
This blue door caught my eye every time I walked by.
A grave for a child.
This was a sculpture of a person crawling into the tomb. It was a large and imposing figure, for sure.
Skulls and other sculptures are used to remind the living to remember death (“memento mori”).
This was one of my favorites.
A view from the garden.
Jim Morrison’s grave. I was surprised how crowded he was back there. There is a chain link fence up to deter people from getting near it because it has been vandalized several times, but it’s clearly not stopping anyone.
The chain link fence and the tree where people leave love notes and chewing gum for him. In case you’re wondering, I did not leave my Hubba Bubba behind.
I saw this beautiful tree lined path on the way out.
Have any of you been to Pere Lachaise? What were your favorite parts?
Check out my recent trip to Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans here.