Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Top choice cemetery in Le Marais, Ménilmontant & Belleville

Image by Anik Messier Getty Images

Opened in 1804, Père Lachaise is today the world's most visited cemetery. Its 70,000 ornate tombs of the rich and famous form a verdant, 44-hectare sculpture garden. The most visited are those of 1960s rock star Jim Morrison (division 6) and Oscar Wilde (division 89). Pick up cemetery maps at the conservation office near the main bd de Ménilmontant entrance. Other notables buried here include composer Chopin, playwright Molière, poet Apollinaire, and writers Balzac, Proust, Gertrude Stein and Colette.

You can also find actors Sarah Bernhardt and Yves Montand; painters Pissarro, Seurat, Modigliani and Delacroix; chanteuse Édith Piaf; and dancer Isadora Duncan.

Of interest, more for the tale than the tomb, is the Mur des Fédérés (Wall of the Federalists). 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.


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