Strolling Among the many Useless at Père Lachaise Cemetery

eerie photo of the light streaming on a crow at a cemetery
Up to date: 07/07/18 | July seventh, 2018

Dying is just not the top for the residents of Père Lachaise in Paris. Their tombs and graves are gawked at every single day by a whole lot of camera-touting vacationers looking for the cemetery’s well-known and not-so-famous inhabitants.

The cemetery was in-built 1804 as the town ran out of room for brand spanking new graves inside its limits and was named after Louis XIV’s confessor, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in a home close to the cemetery land.

On the time, the locals thought of the cemetery too removed from the town. Père Lachaise solely had 13 graves its first 12 months. Nonetheless, directors devised a plan and, with nice fanfare, transferred the stays of Jean de La Fontaine (fabulist) and Molière (playwright), two of Paris’s most well-known artists, to Père Lachaise, hoping that folks would need to be buried close to France’s well-known heroes!

The technique labored and folks clamored to be interred with the cemetery’s well-known new residents. Right this moment, there are over one million individuals buried right here, and it’s nonetheless an lively cemetery, although to be buried right here, it’s important to have lived or died in Paris.

Waking up on a vibrant stunning day, I headed to the cemetery to marvel on the graves, mausoleums, and sepulchers of the lifeless. Whereas a wet day might have been extra à propos, I welcomed the solar (I lacked an umbrella).

grand tombstones at French cemetery

People have all the time had a fascination with loss of life — we’ve been writing, singing, and pondering about it for ages. We dedicate a lot of our lives to enthusiastic about that everlasting query “What comes subsequent?” so it doesn’t shock me that cemeteries turn out to be vacationer points of interest.

To me, strolling among the many lifeless is each uncomfortable and attention-grabbing.

I are inclined to really feel uncomfortable as a result of I feel, “Right here we’re, gawking on the graves of the lifeless like they’re some museum exhibit to be ogled.” The lifeless turn out to be a sideshow as individuals exclaim, “Hey look, I’ve an image of Jim Morrison’s grave! Yay!” Perhaps it’s as a result of we need to get near the well-known individuals we might by no means get near in life. I don’t know, however regardless of the purpose, as I snap a dozen photographs of Édith Piaf’s grave, I do know I’m responsible of it, too.

mourning statues at pere lachaise cemetery

However greater than being uncomfortable, I’m all the time within the individuals round me. Who had been they? What lives did they lead? Have been they glad? Unhappy? Have been they cherished, misplaced souls, artists, hypochondriacs? I wish to think about them going via the ups and downs of life all of us face or being witnesses to a historic occasion we now dissect in historical past books. What was like for them? Will somebody 100 years therefore ponder over my grave and go “I ponder who this man was.” How rapidly will it’s earlier than the world’s reminiscence forgets me?

As you progress via the cemetery, it’s simple to get misplaced among the many large crypts and bushes. Protecting 110 acres, the cemetery rises alongside a hill, with the older heart a mishmash of winding streets and long-worn-out names and the newer tombs specified by good metropolis blocks. The moss-covered tombs and tree-lined cobblestone streets cover the sounds of the town. All that is still are your footsteps and the squawks from crows who remind you that on this present day of life, loss of life is throughout.

James Morrison's tombstone in cemetery in France
Beautiful haunting pathway through French graveyard

Most guests are drawn to the cemetery by the well-known individuals buried right here: 

  • Édith Piaf – French singer, songwriter, and actress.
  • Jim Morrison – The lead singer of The Doorways.
  • Oscar Wilde – The well-known Irish poet and author (he wrote The Image of Dorian Grey and The Significance of Being Earnest).
  • Honoré de Balzac – Playwright and creator of The Human Comedy
  • Colette – French novelist and Nobel Prize in Literature nominee.
  • Michel Petrucciani – Achieved jazz pianist who overcame osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • Sadegh Hedayat – Creator of The Blind Owl; translator and mental
  • Luigi Cherubini – Classical and pre-Romantic composer.
  • Samuel Hahnemann – Founding father of homeopathy (and in addition a Freemason!).
  • Pierre Bourdieu – Well-known anthropologist, sociologist, and thinker.
  • Molière – Creator and playwright; typically thought of one of many biggest French authors.
  • Frédéric Chopin – Famend pianist and composer.
  • Max Ernst – German artist and poet.

Guests will normally make a break for these graves whereas leaving the remainder of the lifeless (and residing) undisturbed.

Sad statue of a woman mourning at pere lachaise graveyard

I wandered via the graves, struck by the silence and the enormity of the tombs. Most of the mausoleums appear match for kings and are spectacularly adorned with statues, artwork, and sculptures depicting angels and scenes of mourning. These individuals wished to be remembered. As I wandered round, I discovered a distinction to the tombs of the celebrities, who appeared to need the alternative. Movie star graves had been typically the best as in the event that they now not wished in loss of life the highlight that they had in life.

staue in graveyard in Paris at pere lachaise

I spent hours visiting the cemetery, typically sitting in silence, reflecting on these buried round me. Visiting the graves of so many individuals that I like made me really feel oddly related to them. I paid my respects and thanked them for the affect they’ve had on my life. I solely hope I’ll accomplish half of what they did of their lives.

The way to get to Père Lachaise Cemetery
Père Lachaise Cemetery is situated at 16 rue du Repos. One of the simplest ways to get right here is to take the no. 2 or no. three line and get off on the “Père-Lachaise” cease and stroll down the road to the cemetery. You possibly can’t miss its gigantic partitions. It’s open every day from eight am (9 am on Sundays) till 5:30 pm or 6 pm, relying on the season. You possibly can go to their web site for extra data if you should.

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