As Sacred Destinations reports, the Cimetière du Père-Lachais (Father Lachaise Cemetery) is situated on the eastern edge of Paris, and is the most famous cemetery in the French capitol and arguably all of Europe. Many notable French and foreign personages are buried here, and the tree-lined paths weaving around 19th-century monuments make Père-Lachaise a favorate spot for a peaceful stroll.
Père-Lachaise cemetery is named after the Jesuit Father Lachaise, King Louis XIV’s confessor, who led the reconstruction of the Jesuit Rest House completed here in 1682. The Père-Lachaise land, covering more than 109 acres, was acquired by the city of Paris in 1804 for use as a cemetery.
The rising ground, cobbled avenues and rows of trees give the place a romantic atmosphere in spite of the more 70,000 nineteenth-century funeral monuments that occupy 118 acres in the 20th arrondissement. Some tombs are ostentatious, some are unsightly and dilapidated, some are lovely. Stray cats roam and snooze among the monuments.
More than 300,000 people are buried at “the grandest address in Paris,” including many famous artists and writers:
- Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) – French novelist and playwright
- Frederic Chopin (1810-49) – Polish Romantic composer
- Colette (1873-1954) – French novelist and provacateur (legend has it that cats replenish the roses on her grave)
- Delacroix (1798-1863) – French Romantic artist
- Molière (1622-73) – French playwright (remains transferred in 1817)
- Jim Morrison (1943-71) – American musician and poet (one of the most popular graves in Pere-Lachaise)
- Alfred de Musset (1810-57) – French poet, novelist, dramatist
- Edith Piaf (1915-63) – French popular singer
- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) – Irish playwright and writer (remains transferred in 1909; traditional to kiss his tomb while wearing lipstick)
Monuments also honor Frenchmen who died in the Resistance or in Nazi concentration camps. In the southeast corner stands the Mur des Fédérés where the last communards were shot in 1871.
The most famous religious figures buried in Père-Lachaise are the unlucky lovers Abelard and Heloise. Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was a brilliant and controversial philosopher and theologian who, at the age of 39, was hired as a private tutor to Héloïse, niece of Canon Fulbert of Paris.
The two fell in love, secretly had a son, and married. When Heloise’s uncle discovered this, he had the unfortunate Abelard castrated and sent Héloïse to a convent. The two rarely saw one another for the remainder of their lives, but exchanged soulful love letters that have become famous. Heloise became an abbess and Abelard continued to write and stir up theological controversy.
Abelard spent the last two years of his life as a monk at the Abbey of Cluny. Upon his death in 1142, he was buried at Heloise’s convent at her request, and she was buried next to him upon her death two years later. The two were later moved to Père-Lachaise, where they lie next to each other in elaborate tombs.
Tripfilms.com offers this useful travel video of what to see at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery Of Paris: