Pere Lachaise cemetery

The famous Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris

Père Lachaise cemetery covers 108 rolling acres of woodlands and tombstones in Paris' 20eme.

Paris's greatest cemetery is more like rolling, wooded, 109-acre park in which there just happen to be thousands of stone monuments—oh, and lots and lots of famous dead people.

With so many illustrious corpses and magnificent tombs, you'd be wise to grab a map from the gatehouse.

A litany of cultural giants, both French and Francophone, rest in peace here. The short list includes Chopin, Bizet, and Edith Piaf; Proust, Molière, Balzac, and Oscar Wilde (he's got a great Art Deco tombstone—sadly, now cordoned off behind an ugly fence thanks to a tradition that arose some time after the mid-1990s of visitors leaving ruby-red lipstick kisses all over it; authorities claimed the lipids in the lipstick were doing more damage than even regular graffiti).

Also resting in peace at Père-Lachaise: Ingres, Modigliani, Isadora Duncan, Colette, and Sarah Berhardt.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are, sweetly, buried back-to-back and share a single headstone upon which fresh red rose-is-a-roses are laid daily.

Jim Morrison's grave

The most famous grave (not person; grave) is that of Jim Morrison, the Doors late, great poet-songwriter.

Note that, in recent years, the spoilsports of the cemetery have scoured off all the graffiti—which, at its height in the 1990s, seemed to be enough scrawl to cover all the cars in the entire Métro system—on the surrounding monuments and erected a barrier fence and guards to keep acolytes from littering the grave with offerings (flowers, cigarettes, booze, and a few, er, "special" stamps and sugar cubes for the hard partying) from an international roster neo-hippie pilgrims.

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The tomb of Oscar Wilde in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
The tomb of Irish writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. (Photo by Reid Bramblett)

Oscar Wilde

 

 

The grave of French singer Édith Piaf, née Édith Giovanna Gassion (1915–1963) in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
The grave of French singer Édith Piaf, née Édith Giovanna Gassion (1915–1963) in Père Lachaise Cemetery. (Photo by PRA)

Édith Piaf