Call me morbid, but I’m fascinated by old graveyards and Paris’ cemeteries were unlike any I’ve ever visited. After unexpectedly ending up wandering around Montmartre Cemetery and being completely mesmerized on our first day, we decided to fit in a visit to the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery as well the following morning – the resting place of an array of well-known figures including Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Chopin.
Set over 110 acres in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, Pere Lachaise is the city’s largest cemetery. While other cemeteries I’ve previously visited such as the Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh and St James Cemetery in Liverpool could be described as haunting and macabre, the words that spring to mind when thinking about Pere Lachaise are beautiful, enchanting, vibrant and full of life.
Er… a graveyard full of life? I hear you say.
While the residents from across many centuries were pushing daisies, the scene above ground was very much blooming.
I couldn’t put my camera away and was constantly transfixed by the eye-catching juxtaposition of centuries’ old weathered tombs with vibrant flowers, trees and foliage. Intricate carvings, enchanting statues, chalky muted tones and moss-covered stones created a world that was truly encapsulating.
This was contrasted with somber moments when coming across Holocaust memorials and reflecting on unimaginably heartbreaking periods in history.
Let me take you on a photo tour…
Where is Pere Lachaise Cemetery?
This cemetery can be found in eastern Paris (20th arrondissement) and is easily accessible via the Metro. To get to the main entrance, you need to get off at the Philippe Auguste station. Other station options are Gambetta – near the entrance close to Oscar Wilde’s tomb – or Pere Lachaise close to some of the side entrances.
Wherever you enter, though, wandering around and discovering it all is part of the experience. There are maps to show you where the famous people are.
Tip: If you are on the look out for a particular grave, take a picture of the map with your phone or camera so you can check it again on the go if you get lost. This place is really massive and it’s so easy to take a wrong turn!
We decided to walk there from the Opera district to enjoy the city more, along with the gorgeous weather. This took around 80 minutes. After spending a couple of hours in Pere Lachaise, we started wandering back and ended up jumping on a metro to the Trocadero Station to view the Eiffel Tower. There are metro stations everywhere so if you go for a general wander and get a bit lost, there is guaranteed to be an underground link close by.
For me, getting lost and being a bit spontaneous is all part of the fun :-)
Do you like visiting cemeteries? Have you visited Pere Lachaise?