Sunday, January 1, 2012

PARIS - Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery, 20th Arrondisement, Paris - DGH

Père Lachaise Cemetery, (or Cimetière du Père-Lachaise) established by Napoleon in 1804, is reputed to be the largest cemetery in the city of Paris with its own stone cobbled streets and snug juxtaposition of memorials. Large memorials dedicated to those who served in previous wars stand here, beside family memorials and ornate tombs of some of history’s most celebrated cultural heroes. The various styles of architecture shown in some of the memorials give us an idea of their age, as well as the materials used: marble, granite, iron sculpture, bronze figures, and stained glass inserts.

Beautiful detail made to survive - by DG Hudson

We used a map of the layout available at the entrance and walked down tree-lined roadways admiring the variety of large and small enclosures, some just big enough for a moments’ reflection.  The cobbles force you to walk a little slower than normal city  speed. There’s a crematorium and a memorial building on the grounds where we located the plaques of Stephane Grappelli, jazz violinist and the dancer, Isadora Duncan.

Edith Piaf, The Little Sparrow - by DG Hudson

We searched out Edith Piaf, the French chanteuse, Georges Bizet, writer of Carmen, and the poet/writer Oscar Wilde’s monument (we saw it covered in red kisses before the memorial was restored and partially covered by protective glass).  Refer to a previous post Paris Walks for the 'before' photo.  Chopin, Jim Morrison, Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Lalique, and many more rest in this same elegant neighbourhood.

Family monuments vary in design - by DG Hudson 2010

As the afternoon began to turn into evening, we left Cimetière du Père-Lachaise walking back the way we had come, down the sloped Rue du Chemin Vert, past the pop-up stores to the Place de La Bastille and finally to the Marais. 

A Closed Book - photo by DG Hudson 2010

Old cemeteries can be interesting places, aside from the spiritual value they offer, if you study the architecture, the placement of the old against the new, and the variety of detail on some of the monuments in these older places of rest. Imagine how it must have looked over two hundred years ago at its beginning, in 1804. Take photos to reinforce the memory when one day you want to use that setting in your writing.

The Cobbled Streets of Père Lachaise - by DG Hudson



Oscar Wilde’s tomb is now partially encased in glass for its own protection and to honour his memory.  This video explains why. (Huffington Post article/video)

Virtual Tour of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

All photos by DG Hudson, 2010 in Paris, France.


Have you visited a place or building that made a strong impression on you? Or gave you a feeling of deja vu?  Please share in the comments.