"Pere-Lachaise Cemetery" Pere Lachaise Cemetery - Cimetière du Père Lachaise Tip by Jefie

  Oscar Wilde's tomb at Pere-Lachaise Cemetery
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Without a doubt, Pere-Lachaise is Paris's most famous cemetery. Not only is it huge, but it probably houses more famous people than any other cemeteries in the world. It is actually a bit funny to watch people looking at their map, racing to the next famous grave as though they were on some sort of strange scavenger hunt!

You should probably allow 2-3 hours to visit the cemetery, depending on how many graves you wish to see. There are a lot of twists and turns and the maps aren't perfect so chances are that even the best navigators will get a bit lost from time to time. Among Pere-Lachaise's most famous residents are French singer Edith Piaf, French writers Moliere, Lafontaine, Arago, Balzac and Marcel Proust, French actors Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, and musical composers Chopin and Rossini.

But perhaps the two most visited tombs are those of American singer Jim Morrison (The Doors), who died in Paris in 1971, and Irish writer and playwright Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest), who died in Paris in 1900. While Morrison's grave is rather simple, Wilde's is ornated with a large modern-like angel that was sculpted by Sir Jacob Epstein. The sculpture originally came complete with male genitals, but these were broken off because they were deemed too obscene. The story goes that the broken piece was used as a doorstop and a paperweight by the cemetery keeper, but it has now been misplaced. Oscar Wilde's tomb is also covered with lipstick marks that countless admirers have left when kissing his tomb.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery is open daily and admission is free. You can pick up a map at the guarding post, next to the main entrance, where you will also find restrooms. The cemetery is only a little over 200 years old, but many parts have already fallen into disrepair. After a while, the subtle but distinct smell of the cemetery might get to you and it becomes easier to understand why they had to shut down the overcrowded "Cimetiere des Innocents" at the heart of Paris...

Address: 16 rue du Repos
Directions: Just outside of Le Marais, withing walking distance of La Bastille (metro Pere-Lachaise).
Phone: 01 55 25 82 10
Website: http://www.pere-lachaise.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 5, 2007
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