Guest Author - Nadine Shores
Pere Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris. Opened in 1804, the cemetery was named after Father Francois de la Chaise who was the confessor to Louis XIV. While it took a while for the new cemetery to catch on, it soon became "the" place for the famous, and those wanting to rest beside the famous, to be buried. Covering 110 acres there are over 1 million people currently interred there. So who do you want to see?
Oscar Wilde - Wilde, and Irish novelist and poet, is probably best known for his novel "The Picture of Dorian Grey" and play "The Importance of Being Earnest." His gravesite is one of the most visited and has had a glass enclosure erected around it to protect it from admirers who kiss his tomb while wearing red lipstick.
Gertrude Stein - Compared to the grandeur of the stylized angel of Oscar Wilde's grave, the site for Stein is modest and simple. Many stones are left there as "markers" as is the custom in the Jewish religion. Alice B Tolkas (her partner) is buried alongside her but her name is inscribed on the back of the stone.
Musicians and Singers:
Jim Morrison - despite being one of the smallest and arguably hardest to find sites,many people travel to the cemetery to pay their respects to the former singer of The Doors.
Chopin - while most of Chopin resides in Pere Lachaise, his heart is entombed in Warsaw.
Theodore Gericault - his tomb features a life sized statue of the artist reclining above a replication of his most famous painting, "The Raft of the Medusa" with a palate and paint brush in his hand.
Amedeo Modigliani - an Italian "modernist" who paintings featured people with elongated faces and figures. He was only 35 when he died. The mother of his daughter (and of his 2nd unborn child) was only buried next to him in 1930. Although she committed suicide a day after his death, it took10 years for her family to allow her body to be reunited with the one she loved.
Heloise and Abelard - known for their undying devotion to each other, Heloise and Abelard were the first notables to be re-interred at Pere Lachaise in 1817. Those looking for love leave letters of hope at their gravesite.
Victor Noir - a journalist, who died at the hands of Napoleons nephew, the bronze statute lying atop the tomb is a very realistic portrayal of Noir. The ladies of Paris have come to kiss and caress the statue in hopes of getting married, finding love or becoming pregnant.
Besides the beautiful statues, stained glass and other adornments to the graves, the cemetery itself is a beautiful location with park like grounds. Make sure to allow enough time to simply wander the paths and enjoy the beauty of the site.
Pere Lechaise is easily accessible by Metro (from the number 2 get off either at "Gambetta", "Pere Lachaise" or "Phillipe Aguste" or from the number 3 get off at "Pere Lechaise."
The cemetery is free to visit and maps are available for purchase at many of the florist stands outside the cemetery. The cemetery is open Monday - Friday 8 to 6, Saturday 8:30 - 6 and Sunday and Holidays 9:00 to 6:00 (these are Summer hours from March to November) During the Winter hours are Monday - Friday 8:00 to 5:30, Saturday 8:30 to 5:30 and Sunday and Holidays 9:00 - 5:30.