When people think of Père Lachaise Cemetery, they think of the burial spot of Jim Morrison, Abelard and Heloise, Chopin, and many other famous (mostly) French artists and celebrities. The grounds are vast, the mausoleums works of art, and the history is enticing.
While in Paris this is a must-stop for adventurers. There is beauty and art among the death. And most surprisingly, it somehow makes you feel fresh and alive…even if you realize that feeling is transitory. Take a stroll with us as Project Dreamscape explores Père Lachaise Cemetery on this exclusive photo tour:
The serene tree-lined path as we stroll up. It was late November and a particularly chilly afternoon in Paris.
One of the first graves to greet us. Many were adorned with statues and sculptures. This one stared straight through us.
A much more casual and carefree sculpture a little ahead. We noticed how every grave had “personality” and we could sense the person it held inside. As if the cold stone and marble oozed a bit of the life their dusty, old bones once had.
Many of the crypts were open. We couldn’t resist peeking inside this one.
Ornate carvings and Gothic designs augmented many of the mausoleums.
Frozen, snow-covered roses decay against a rusty fence.
This angel prays with broken fingers. Did they fall off? Were they stolen? We don’t know, she wouldn’t tell us.
Hands reach out of the grave and clasp for eternity.
The crypts are lined up along winding paths, like little houses along a street.
Another look inside. Many crypts hold entire families. Some contain dozens of bodies. Shelves are often used to fit them all.
Beauty isn’t lost in this place. And it isn’t cheap. Space is very limited. While some of the burial plots are sold in perpetuity, meaning the bodies can rest there forever, most are sold in 10, 30, 50 and 100-year leases. Once the lease is up, the remains are removed.
The grave of Abelard and Heloise. Their remains were transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery in 1817. The publicity this created helped establish the cemetery as a “the place to be” for other notables’ resting place. I just enjoyed seeing the grave of these famous lovers.
This is Jim Morrison’s grave. Perhaps one of the most visited sites in the entire cemetery, it is roped off to help prevent people from vandalizing it. The lead singer of The Doors tragically died in Paris in 1971.
This “Morris” cat liked to hang around Jim Morrison’s grave. He is a fixture at the cemetery and has a food and water bowl stashed inside a mausoleum.
Chopin’s grave. Another popular site to visit in the cemetery. Apparently his remains are missing the heart, though. It is entombed within a pillar at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, Poland.
The mausoleum of Oscar Wilde, the rambunctious Irish novelist, playwright and poet. It is tradition to kiss the façade with bright lipstick. The superstition is that doing so will ensure love and virility. You can see that someone wanted a memento of that virility and broke off the statue’s penis.
Yes, we did kiss the mausoleum. That’s mine one of ours in the center. We hear this practice is no longer allowed, and to prevent would-be kissers, they’ve encased Wilde’s crypt in glass.
Vivan Denon’s grave. He was a French artist, writer, diplomat, archaeologist and the first director of the Louvre Museum.
Here lies Sarah Bernhardt, the French stage and film actress.
Not quite sure who this fellow is, but he has a rather pronounced bulge that has caught many people’s attention over the years. It is worn because if you rub the spot, allegedly, you will be blessed with fertility. We did not touch it, by the way!
That’s part of our crew with our guide. A goofy man who basically threw himself at us and insisted on giving us a tour…for a fee, of course. He was cute and funny and worth the 40 euro.
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. He influenced Marcel Proust, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac and many others.
The grave of Marcel Marceau, the famous French Mime.
Not sure who this belongs to, but the image is positively creepy, isn’t it?
Here is the grave of Marcel Proust, the French novelist and critic.
Because so many of the remains at Père Lachaise Cemetery need to be excavated to make room for others, there is Aux Morts ossuary. By some estimates it houses the cremated remains of over 3 million individuals.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is located at 16 rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France. It is advised that you bring a map, or buy one from a local vendor so you not only can find the graves you wish to visit, but so you don’t get lost amid the twisty cobblestone paths.
Wear comfortable shoes, plan on spending a considerable amount of time exploring, and don’t stay past dark…
For information and tours, visit Trip Advisor.