We don't know if Chopin, Molière, Colette, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and other famous denizens of Père Lachaise were disturbed by the keening sounds of Bruce Ackley's soprano saxophone on this cold January afternoon. But a security guard took issue with our lack of a permit, and he escorted us out of Paris's celebrated sprawling cemetery. Ackley was being filmed by the Ideas in Motion team for a documentary, "Cleaning the Mirror," about jazz saxophonist John Coltrane's historic collective improvisation piece "Ascension." Ackley's group, Rova Saxophone Quartet, was in Paris performing its contemporary "Electric Ascension" version. Coltrane was in Farmingdale, NY, where he was buried (in Pinelawn Memorial Park) in 1967.
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A Grave Walk
Visiting a foreign cemetery may seem strange, but Pere La Chaise cemetery was more like a park; gorgeous landscaping, rolling hills, interesting tombstones, and famous people were put to rest there. Look for Jim Morrison and many others.
You can easily spend 1 to 2 hours walking among the gravestones and imagining the lives these Parisians lived.
A truly unique travel experience that shouldn’t be missed in Paris.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the city of lights and who can blame the tourists; its like walking through a history book. Here you will find the final resting places of some very famous people such as composers Vincenzo Bellini and Georges Bizet, the painter Max Ernst, playwright Moliere and singers Jim Morrison and Edit Piaf, to name but a very few.
Outside the cemetery, which covers 110 acres, you can often find someone selling maps so that you will easily be able to find the graves that you are looking for.
Other than the famous people buried there, you will also find some outstanding art work. Don't forget to check out Oscar Wilde's grave.
One of the most touching stories of all time is that of star-crossed lovers Heloise and Abelard whose tragic and illicit relationship so scandalized 12th century Parisians that they entered religious orders as a nun and monk as a fitting penance.
Their love affair flourished for over 20 years through their passionate and now famous letters to each other.
What was denied them in life was given to them in death when Josephine Bonaparte ordered their remains moved to Pere Lachaise Cemetery and to be entombed together for infinity.
This touching memorial is only one of the reasons to visit this quiet yet spectacular cemetery. Also buried here are the remains of Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Modigliani, and Oscar Wilde to name just a few.
Maps are available to assist you wend your way through this enormous and often confusing cemetery. However, it is worth it to experience this beautiful and tranquil final resting place of so many famous frenchmen and expats.
Pere Lachaise has got to be the coolest cemetery in the world. Although that claim is subject to personal opinion it is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris and one of it's oldest (Note that I have also visited Lafayette in New Orleans and Recoleta in Buenos Aires, amazing cemeteries in their own right!).
It is reputed to be the world's most visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years.
It is a beautiful place to walk around and fairly awe inspiring to be able to pay your respects to individuals that undoubtedly impacted your life in some way through their prose, artwork, paintings, music, acting, and dance.
While there is a Pere Lachaise station on the #2 and #3 metro lines it is easiest to take the #3 metro to the Gambetta station to visit the cemetery.
Visiting Jim Morrison's grave was a highlight for me because I love the Doors, but you're certain to find someone that fancies your interests buried in Pere Lachaise
Père Lachaise is one of the most famous collections of graves in the world and is said to be one of the most visited. Tourists flock to it when they are in Paris to see famous graves like those belonging to Chopin, Jim Morrison and of course - Oscar Wilde. Estimates as to the number of interred are usually around the 300,000 mark. However, it's the art and architecture inside Père Lachaise that always fascinates me. Perhaps it is morbid but incredibly detailed statues and soaring vaults laid out in the most elaborate of styles, sometimes even simplistic, truly thrill me. It's strange that we leave such elaborate edifices to those who have passed on when they cannot be around to appreciate them. Then again, human kind does love a good show.
Whatever your motivation, the next time you are in Paris, visit Père Lachaise. It is, if nothing else, quite extravagant and in that it is so very French!
The front man of the 1960s band, The Doors, died while in Paris back in 1971 under mysterious circumstances (but most probably a drug overdose). The 27 year old was then buried in Pere Lachaise, which also happens to be one of the most visited Parisian tourist attractions.
The afternoon began with sunshine, lemon cake and coffee at the cafe directly across from the main entrance to the cemetery (the desserts there are so good!) It wasn't long after we begain walking the grounds that the sky quicky and drastically changed and the lighting in this photo is a completely natural reflection of the scene.
Most folks who visit the Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris's largest burial ground, make a beeline for the graves of two icons: Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. And while you can no longer kiss Wilde's headstone (long a tradition) and the commemorative bust of Morrison was stolen (never to be replaced), they're still worth the pilgrimage. Established in 1804, the cemetery is the resting place of many other greats, including Honore de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin and Camille Pissarro. As it is located on the high hills of Paris, you can catch a great view of the city— highly recommended, especially during dusk hours.
I felt like I was in a horror movie... There was a man dressed in all black that I saw when I first entered the cemetary, hiding behind a grave. I never saw him again. There were moments when I was literally alone, which is nearly impossible to accomplish in Paris. I enjoyed every moment though.
I am very happy I went to his grave site. Shortly after this visit (and my faithful kiss to his tombstone), it has since been cleaned and protected by glass. There was a party next to his grave while I was visiting. People were drinking and smoking. He's clearly still here in spirit.
This beautiful Parisian cemetery is on the Boulevard de Menilmontant and next to the Metro station Philippe August (on line 2), in the 20th arrondissement. Upon entrance to the main gate, be sure to grab a map in hope of not getting too lost.
The art work on the memorials and the stories behind the names on the head stones inspire great tragedy and romance; it is a photographer and wanderer's dream.
The locals call it the la cite des morts (the city of the dead) and it's the ideal place to explore if you've seen a lot of Paris before and are looking to dig a bit deeper.
Here are some of my favorite tombs. 1) Oscar Wilde, (all of those declarations and kisses left behind). 2) Georges Rodenbach, Belgian writer and poet of the 19th century and the tomb from the photo. 3) Victor Noir, who became more famous in death (by duel) than life. I'll let you hunt down the answers as to why his tomb is seen as good luck for fertility.4) Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas buried side by side in a testament to their love.
Gericault, Piaf, Chopin, Heloise and Abelard. Even Jim Morrison. An afternoon here is guaranteed to leave you anything but frustrated as you're sure be lost a time or two, but grateful for the treasures you weren't expecting, along the way.
Ah, to be buried in Père Lachaise!! What more could you want? Jim Morrisson nearly went apoplectic trying to get the Parisian authorities to allow him to be buried there, and eventually succeeded, and, if his grave isn't the most ideally situated, lost as it is behind a gigantic edifice to some French writer, it is still one of the most visited. The cemetery is beautifully laid out - pardon the pun - with great rustling trees providing suitable ambiance and rows of serious-looking crypts and mausoleums lining the walkways, clad in a respectable amount of climbing ivy. I made my way quickly to Oscar Wilde's crypt, and like many others, left the pursed red ring of my lipstick mark on its marble wall, a kiss for his work and his courage, and fondly recalled a line from his play, The Importance of Being Ernest: 'One must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life.'
During 4 days in Paris in October, for our 38th anniversary, we spent several hours at the infamous Pere Lachaise cemetery, where the likes of Jim Morrison of the Doors, and iconic contributors to the arts over the last several centuries are entombed, e.g., Chopin, Proust, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Balzac, Seurat, Edith Piaf, Moliere and Sara Bernhardt. We bought our map laying out the whole massive (110 acres) plot locations and targeted the ones we wanted to find, photograph and be awed by. The artistic and sculptural renderings in many were well worth our efforts through the maze of avenues within these grounds. At times, the ominous nature of this venue was made obvious with ravens atop the oldest and decaying crypts.
A very somber part of Pere Lachaise was a segment where many different sculptures were erected, depicting the many lives lost during the Nazi occupation of France. The haunting, torturous, mouths-wide-opened and skeletal portrayals of victims were a reminder of something that belies our humanity.
An interesting moment during our scavenger-like hunt was at Jim Morrison's grave where young Germans were honoring him, the irony being that they were born after he had died and we had actually seen him perform in person during the 1960's!
A refreshing experience on our walk back to the Latin Quarter was encountering a very cool bar on Blvd. Beaumarchais named "Cuba Compagnie Café", where we had mojitos and toasted those we visited at Pere Lachaise.