I really don’t care for cemeteries and have always been astounded to hear so many travelers love to visit Père Lachaise. With its 110 acres, this municipal cemetery is the first and the largest inside the city of Paris. A local friend was willing to go along with me, so I decided this would be the year for a visit. Let’s just see what everyone is talking about!
We entered from the Gambetta Metro side of the cemetery with the idea of walking downhill towards the main entrance. We totally defeated the purpose when, after later getting a map at the large office building located near the memorial to Héloïse and Abélard, we decided to go back up hill and see some of the graves on the southern side of the property. Even then, the meandering walk to the top of the hill wasn’t bad.
I can see how many would think Père Lachaise a beautiful place. Once I settled down and focused more on what was on the surface, rather than what was buried inside, I was able to enjoy the peaceful quietness and serenity. I imagine that autumn would be an even more gorgeous time to visit.
We saw lots of interesting graves and memorials. Some were actually quite beautiful and emotionally stirring. Our trip up the south side brought us to the “shabby” neighborhood of Jim Morrison’s tomb, and later to where Edith Piaf was buried. My vote for the creepiest tomb is that of the Famille Raspail, with a death spirit statue attempting to climb inside the window. Towards the end of our walk we circled around to see that of Oscar Wilde before exiting the gates, thankful to be alive and hungry for lunch.
My only regret was the brightness of the mid-morning sunlight. I may have to return someday soon to get better photos!