Saturday, April 18, 2015

P = Père Lachaise Cemetery, French Faves - A to Z Challenge 2015

Walk softly here, many are resting. . .

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, by DG Hudson

P = Père Lachaise Cemetery
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

In the city of Paris, Père Lachaise Cemetery occupies 44 hectares or 110 acres. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it was the first municipal cemetery in Paris. It also contains many well-known personalities, a venerable list of the famous.

Family Tomb at Père Lachaise, Paris, by DG Hudson

The cemetery was bought by the city in 1804 and established by Napoleon the same year. As the graveyards of Paris filled, several other large cemeteries were established outside the precincts of the capital. Montmartre Cemetery in the north joined Père Lachaise in the east, with Montparnasse Cemetery in the south, and Passy Cemetery in the west, at the heart of the city.

Père Lachaise Cemetery had few occupants at first, but by arranging to bury a few notable citizens there, the area became more desirable as a final resting place. Some of the noteworthy citizens now are: Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Stephane Grappelli, Isadora Duncan, Chopin, and Camille Pissarro. There are many more on this list of those interred or cremated.  Scroll down the Wikipedia page to locate the list.

The rules for being buried in a Paris cemetery are rather strict: to be buried here a person must die in the French capital, or they must have lived in Paris.

Edith Piaf, Pere Lachaise, Paris, by DG Hudson

In order to gain more visibility for the cemetery, in 1817, the remains of Pierre Abelard and Heloise d'Argenteuil were transferred to the cemetery with their monuments canopy made from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine. By tradition, so it is said, lovers or lovelorn singles, leave letters at the crypt in tribute to the couple or in hope of finding true love for themselves. Ah, romance. . in Paris, it touches everything.

Today over one million bodies are buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery and many more in the Columbarium, which holds the remains of those who requested cremation (see below). Family tombs contain multiple burials to make the best use of limited space.

Isadora Duncan, Pere Lachaise, in Paris, by DG Hudson

The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) is also located in the cemetery. This is where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville, were shot on May 28, 1871. The Paris commune was crushed on the last day of "Bloody Week".


American singer/songwriter Jim Morrison's (The Doors) gravesite has been subject to crowds and some vandalism (as has Oscar Wilde's). According to Wikipedia, the lease of the gravesite was upgraded to perpetual by Morrison's parents, and is guarded to protect the site itself and others tombs nearby from ardent fans.

 Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France - CC*

NOTE: As we made our way through the cemetery, looking for and locating those gravesites we wanted to pay respects to, we were approached by a man who offered to show us around the cemetery and claimed to be an expert in helping those who couldn't find the sites they sought. We declined. My imagination ran rampant afterwards though. What if he was a descendant of the communards who were finished off here?  Or a ghost of the cemetery? Or could he have been trying to lure unsuspecting tourists to another location?  We'll never know, but I can live with that. He gave us no trouble, and we went out the main entrance and down the hill.


Have you heard of Père Lachaise Cemetery? Or have you visited other famous cemeteries to pay homage to a particular person? Do you find cemeteries interesting or creepy? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.


The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!



DG's previous post on Père Lachaise Cemetery

Wiki on Père Lachaise Cemetery


IMAGE: Grave of Jim Morrison, Paris, France*CC = Creative Commons
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  By SuzanneGW


Pierre Abelard and Heloise d'Argenteuil - the story The story of love between a nun and her teacher, a noble lecturer.'Argenteuil Wiki