Pere Lachaise Cemetery: France’s Beautiful City of the Dead

Pere Lachaise is arguably the most famous cemetery in the world. No trip to Paris is complete without a stop at a cemetery celebrated for its famous occupants, dazzling tombs, and beautiful gardens. Millions of visitors from across the globe flock to Pere Lachaise every year to visit the graves of Doors singer Jim Morrison, writer Oscar Wilde, and composer Frederic Chopin.

Pere Lachaise was founded in 1804, when Napoleon ruled France with an iron fist. The cemetery is named after French priest Francois de la Chaise, who heard King Louis XIV’s confessions. Pere Lachaise received a relatively cool reception from the people of France until the remains of celebrated playwright Moliere were interred in the cemetery. In the wake of Moliere’s arrival, Pere Lachaise became the hottest cemetery in town.

Visitors can easily spend an entire day surveying the ornate tombs, gravestones, and monuments of Pere Lachaise. One of the most popular tombs is the final resting place of performer Etienne-Gaspard Robert. Etienne-Gaspard—who performed under the stage name Robertson—scared audiences around the world out of their wits by projecting make-believe phantoms onto a smoky, dimly lit stage in the early 1800s. Etienne-Gaspard Robert’s tomb features a stone likeness of several menacing phantoms steadily advancing towards a group of terrified onlookers.

Etienne-Gaspard Robert

Photo via Flickr

Pere Lachaise Cemetery doubles as a peaceful park with plenty of benches where visitors can relax and enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding trees, dramatic statues of grief-stricken widows, and even a surrealist sculpture or two. If you fall in love with Pere Lachaise, the cemetery does still have a few burial plots that are reserved for new arrivals. Be aware that there is a waitlist and you have to die in Paris and be a French citizen in order to be buried in one of the world’s most celebrated cemeteries.

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