Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Top choice cemetery

in Le Marais, Ménilmontant & Belleville
Image by Anik Messier / Getty Images

Opened in 1804, Père Lachaise is the world's most visited cemetery. Its 70,000 ornate tombs of the rich and famous form a verdant, 44-hectare sculpture garden. Highlights include those of 1960s rock star Jim Morrison (division 6) and Oscarbato Wilde (division 89). Pick up a cemetery map (or download digitally using a QR code) at the conservation office near the bd de Ménilmontant and rue du Repos entrances.

Other notables include composer Chopin; playwright Molière; poet Apollinaire; writers Proust, Gertrude Stein and Colette; actors Simone Signoret, Sarah Bernhardt and Yves Montand; painters Pissarro, Modigliani and Delacroix; chanteuse Édith Piaf; and dancer Isadora Duncan.

Of interest, more for the tale than the tomb, is the Mur des Fédérés or Communards' Wall. On 27 May 1871, the last of the Communard insurgents, cornered by government forces, fought a hopeless, all-night battle among the tombstones. In the morning, the 147 survivors were lined up against this completely ordinary, plain brick wall, shot, and buried where they fell in a mass grave. Commemorative memorials to those who've died during almost every other war in modern history lie opposite to form an emotive alleyway – it is impossible not to be moved.

Approaching the cemetery along bd de Ménilmontant, it's difficult to miss – or not be moved by – the city's most recent Monument aux Morts Parisiens de la Première Guerre Mondiale, unveiled on the cemetery's outside western wall on 11 November 2018, the centenary of the armistice marking the end of WWI. The imposing, 280m-long, black metal panel – engraved with the names of the 94,415 known Parisians killed in combat and another 8000 missing – runs the entire length of the boulevard.