While visiting Paris, a trip to the famous Père Lachaise cemetery is a must. Not only is it the final resting place for many famous people who once lived here, it is the world’s most visited cemetery dating back to 1804.
I’m normally not really a huge fan of cemeteries, but there is something about Père Lachaise that makes this a totally different experience. Here you’ll find an outstanding collection of 19th century sculptures scattered throughout the 70,000 ornate tombs along with 5000+ trees over 44 hectares.
There are over 800,000 people buried here including musicians, poets, writers, actors, painters and other illustrious citizens. Some of the most famous residents include Jim Morrison, Molière, Balzac, Gertrude Stein, Chopin, Pissarro, Delacroix and Oscar Wilde.
One of the graves that saw a removal of the fences is that of Monsieur Noir. According to the story, Monsieur Noir was a 22-year-old journalist named Yvan Saman that was shot by the great-nephew of Napoleon, Pierre Bonaparte, in 1870. It was believed that stoking the statue’s crotch let to fertility and better sex life, which judging from the current state of it, was taken quite seriously.
Walking through the cemetery is actually quite peaceful. We went on a sunny morning that wasn’t overly hot nor was it too cold. My previous visit was in December and it was a lot less enjoyable. The cemetery is definitely a lot less spooky on a sunny day.
According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, the cemetery was intended for Parisians (a residency in Paris was the only criteria for burial here) as a result of other graveyards becoming full. Apparently it was a novel idea for Parisians to be buried outside the quarters in which they resided.
The cemetery is like a giant park that can be explored for hours. It makes for an interesting stop while in Paris and one I highly recommend.
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