Wanting to see a different side of Paris?

Père-Lachaise-Cemetery

A lot of people every year travel to London and want to see Paris as well but the question they need to ask themselves is do they want to get stuck doing the same old places as every other tourist?

Visiting a cemetery is probably the last thing on your mind – you have the intention (and are pushed towards) visiting all the great things that the beautiful city of Paris has to offer like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, disregarding other sites slightly off the beaten tourist path.  Well recently, more tourists are taking tours from London to Paris and wanting to see the Père LaChaise Cemetery, located in the old 20th arrondissement of Paris is one of the most mysterious and peaceful cemeteries of Europe.  Being the largest of its kind in Paris spreading over 110 acres of beautiful grassland this is the final resting place for many great and influential people.

Père-Lachaise-Cemetery

Père LaChaise Cemetery

Walking or touring through a cemetery may seem macabre and depressing but Père LaChaise Cemetery is somewhat different with its pretty English style gardens, narrow winding cobbled paths and park benches throughout the grounds.  The atmosphere is compelling and the scenery so charming you often forget you’re walking through the graves of over 400,000 people.  Surrounded by grand imposing walls with a small columned entrance, this is a place to go if you’re interested in history, want to take a peaceful yet different walk or want to visit one of your esteemed heroes to pay your respects.

The History of Père LaChaise

Like everything else in Paris, Père LaChaise Cemetery has a long history dating back to 1804 and it was named after King Louis XIV’s trusted confessor, an esteemed French priest Father François d’Aix de La Chaise, who remained loyal to the king for 34 years.  It was under Napoleon that this famous cemetery was built and the first person ever be buried there was a 5 year-old girl, the daughter of a lowly bellboy who worked under the notorious conqueror.  The always rebellious Napoleon rose above the masses who fought against those who believed people without class should not be buried, he was famously quoted in saying, “Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion,” and with this came the birth of the most visited cemetery in the world – the Père LaChaise.  After a lot of controversy and only 13 graves in the first year, Napoleon organised for the transfer of some nobles’ remains like the esteemed French poet, Jean de La Fontaine, French playwright, Molière and the scandalous scholar Peter Abelard who had an affair with Héloïse d’Argenteuil whom are buried together in a crypt.  Every year thousands of hopeless romantics visit the crypt and leave confessional love letters in hope that they too will find the same love as Abelard.

grave-chopin

Famous Graves

Today many well known talents from different backgrounds can be found buried here under the hanging weeping willows.  Buy a cemetery map and visit the graves of Frédéric Chopin, Collette, Yves Montand, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and even legendary Doors frontman Jim Morrison, whose grave is surprisingly modest and bare.

To add an interesting twist to your trip to Paris, move away from the hordes in the centre and head to this magical cemetery where you can sit and contemplate under the beautiful shaded trees and wonder about the lives of the wonderful men and women who surround you.

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