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Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

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Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Père-Lachaise Cemetery, with its winding alleyways.

©2005 John Cohen.

A Place of Repose, and Poetry:

One doesn't usually associate a cemetery with a romantic stroll-- but a visit to Pere-Lachaise begs exactly that. Tucked away in a corner of northeastern Paris known to locals as Menilmontant, the cemetery is affectionately called la cite des morts-- the city of the dead-- by Parisians. With its rolling, gentle hills, thousands of trees in dozens of varieties, winding paths with carefully plotted "street" names, and elaborate sepulchers and tombs, it's easy to see why Pere-Lachaise is considered Paris' most hauntingly beautiful place of rest. If that weren't a convincing enough reason to go for a stroll there, great figures have their resting place here, including Chopin, Proust, Colette, or Jim Morrison. No wonder, then, that a cemetery makes our list of the top ten Paris attractions.

Location:

  • Principal entry: Rue de Repos, "Porte du Répos". Metro Philippe Auguste
    (Line 2)
  • Secondary entry: "Porte des Amandiers". Metro Père-Lachaise
    (Line 2,3)
  • Secondary entry: Rue des Rondeaux, "Porte Gambetta". Metro Gambetta
    (Line 3).
  • By bus: Lines 26 or 76.

  • Located in the 20th arrondissement, nearby Belleville and Oberkampf.

Contact Information and Opening Hours:

Info by telephone: +33(0)140 717 560
Visit the website (Free virtual visit and interactive map)

Opening hours
  • Mid-March through early November: 7:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Mon.-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Saturday; 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Sunday and bank holidays.
  • Mid-November through early March: 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mon.-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday; 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday and bank holidays.

Guided Tours and Maps:

  • Guided tours are available by advance telephone reservations.
    Price: 3 Euros (children), 6 Euros (adult) (approx. $4-$8).
  • Free maps are available at the principal entries (Porte des Amandiers and Porte Gambetta.) You can also take a fascinating virtual tour of the cemetery ahead of your visit.

  • A partial index of famous graves with direct links to locations on the map.

Key Facts about Pere Lachaise Cemetery:

  • The cemetery was named after Père de la Chaise, who was King Louis IV's confessor. The priest resided in a Jesuit residence that stood at the site of the present-day chapel.

  • The Emperor Napoleon I inaugurated the cemetery in 1804. In order to mark the new cemetery as a place of prestige, the remains of French playwright Molière and famous lovers Abelard and Heloise were transferred to Pere Lachaise in the early 19th century.

  • Housing some 300,000 graves, Pere-Lachaise is Paris' largest cemetery and one of the globe's most-visited cemeteries, with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Visitor Tips:

  • Try to go on a sunny day. Pere-Lachaise can be a remarkably wonderful place to amble in the sun. In the spring and summer, the greenery and blooms make for a picturesque visit. Enjoy the play of light and shadow on the tombs.

  • Familiarize yourself with the cemetery ahead of time and choose a few sites you'd like to visit. You'll get more out of your stroll that way.

  • Make sure to walk up the hill to the cemetery's summit. Beautiful views of Père-Lachaise and parts of Paris can be had from the hilltop.

Pictures of the Cemetery:

Check out our Pere Lachaise photo gallery for inspiration ahead of your visit.

Visit Highlights:

Ahead of your visit, get a sense of how the cemetery is laid out-- it can be confusing for even regular strollers there. Make sure to consult the maps at the entrances to the cemetery, and use the following as a general way to stay oriented (you can print this page).

War Monuments: Southeast Corner

  • One of Pere-Lachaise's more moving features is its memorial to World War II Deportees and Resistants. The five monuments are located in the cemetery's southeast corner, near the "Porte de la Reunion" entrance.

  • Another historic war site is the Communard's Wall (Mur des Fédérés, where nearly 150 people were massacred during the last week of the Paris Commune in 1871.

A Few Famous Graves

  • Mideastern Section/Principal Entry:
    • Colette (writer)
    • Alfred de Musset (poet)
    • Baron Haussmann (19th-century architect who designed modern Paris
    • Frédéric Chopin (classical musician)
  • South-Central Section:
    • Molière, La Fontaine (playwrights)
    • Victor Hugo (writer)
    • Jim Morrison (American rock musician)
    • Sarah Bernhardt (actress)
  • Northern Section:
    • Richard Wright (American writer)
    • Isadora Duncan (American dancer)
    • Marcel Proust (writer)
    • Delacroix (painter)
    • Guillaume Apollinaire (poet)
    • Balzac (writer)
  • Far-east and Southeast Corner:
    • Oscar Wilde (Irish writer)
    • Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (American writers)
    • Edith Piaf (musician)
    • Modigliani (Italian painter)
    • Paul Eluard (poet)
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