I enjoy a good meander through a cemetery gazing at tombstones, wondering about people’s lives, and noting the memorials, statues and sepulchres. Here in Père Lachaise Cemetery, one strolls amidst countless great minds and historical figures.
Did you know that Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world? Located in eastern Paris and established in 1804, this cemetery is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, art, or simply looking for a peaceful place away from the hustle-bustle of the tourist sites.
How to visit Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris has all your questions answered for a half-day of exploring the most visited cemetery in the world.
Here are my best tips on how to visit Père Lachaise Cemetery.
11 Frequently Asked Questions: Père Lachaise Cemetery
1. Who Was Père Lachaise ?
The cemetery was named after François d’Aix de La Chaise (1624-1709), who was Louis XIV’s confessor and spiritual advisor. He was known as “Father Francis” or “Père la Chaise” in French.
2. What Arrondissement Is Père Lachaise Cemetery In?
This famous Paris cemetery is located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris at 16 rue du Repos. If you happen to be on Rue de la Roquette in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, walk uphill to the end of the street and you’ll be at Père Lachaise.
3. How Do I Get To Père Lachaise Cemetery?
The easiest and most affordable way to get to Père Lachaise Cemetery is by taking the metro. The cemetery is located on Lines 2 and 3 of the Paris Metro system.
You’ll need to get off at either the stop Père Lachaise (lines 2 and 3) or Gambetta (line 3).
Another option is using public buses that stop near or at the cemetery’s gates. Bus lines 61 and 69 both make stops close by while bus line 26 takes you directly into the heart of Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Pro Travel Tip: Enter Père Lachaise closest to Gambetta métro station and end your walk closest to the Père Lachaise station. Your walk will be more downhill going in this direction!
4. Is Père Lachaise Cemetery Free To Visit?
Visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery is completely free.
5. How Big is Père Lachaise Cemetery?
Père Lachaise Cemetery covers over 44 hectares/ 100 acres and contains 70 000 burial plots.
6. What Is The Oldest Cemetery In Paris?
Père Lachaise Cemetery opened in 1804. The oldest cemetery in Paris is the Cimetière de Calvaire which opened in 1688. Read all about the Calvaire Cemetery.
7. When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery?
This cemetery is beautiful in all four seasons. In the spring the roses are blooming and in the fall, orange leaves crunch underfoot. I particularly love visiting on November 1, Toussaint (All Saints’ Day). Traditionally this is a time when French families visit the graves of their loved ones to clean them up and lay fresh arrangements.
8. What Are The Hours of the Cimetière Père Lachaise?
From November to mid-March the cemetery is open on weekdays from 8 am to 5:30 pm; Saturdays from 8:30 to 5:30 pm; Sundays from 9 am to 5:30 pm. From mid-March to October, the cemetery opens at the same time as the rest of the year but closes at 6 pm every day of the week.
9. Are There Washrooms At Cimetière Père Lachaise?
Yes, there are washrooms at three of the entrances: Main, Gambetta, and Réunion.
10. Are People Still Buried At This Famous Cemetery?
Yes. Père Lachaise is still an active cemetery. One may be buried there if you die in Paris or if you lived in the city.
11. How To Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery: Take A Guided Tour
Many years ago, I took a guided tour of Père Lachaise Cemetery. I didn’t really have time to dillydally and found that taking a tour was a great introduction to the cemetery. The tour piqued my interest and I have since returned many times.
How To Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery In Paris
There are so many options on how best to enjoy a visit here. That is what makes a visit to Père Lachaise Cemetery so much fun. Wandering the largest cemetery in Paris is one way to connect with the soul of the city, for these Paris laneways hold history and thousands of personal stories. It’s the perfect place for curious minds.
1. Visit Famous Graves
One of the main reasons people flock to Père Lachaise is to pay their respects to famous personalities buried there. From Jim Morrison’s grave covered in graffiti and flowers to Chopin’s tombstone, there are plenty of celebrity tombs worth visiting.
It is also great fun to let serendipity lead the way and see what tombstones you find organically.
How To Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery Tip: At each entrance you will find a map of the cemetery (divided into distinct divisions) and a list of names. Take a photo and then head off on your treasure hunt. Using Google Maps is also a good strategy when looking for specific tombs.
2. Enjoy Nature
Père Lachaise may be known for being a resting place for humans but it also offers a haven for flora and fauna lovers with its lush greenery, towering trees and colourful blooms scattered all over. It is such a lovely experience to walk along the cobbled tree-lined alleyways in Père Lachaise that I even added it to my list of 27 best streets to stroll in Paris.
3. Admire Sculptures
The cemetery boasts an impressive collection of sculptures ranging from religious figures like angels and saints to more abstract pieces.
4. Attend Cultural Events
Throughout the year Père Lachaise hosts several cultural events such as concerts, exhibitions or even movie screenings which offer unique opportunities to experience the cemetery in different ways.
5. Find The Eiffel Tower View
Find the lookout where there are several benches positioned and gaze at the Eiffel Tower. Pull out a book and relax in the calmness for a few minutes.
12 Famous Graves At Père Lachaise Cemetery
Looking for famous people buried at Père Lachaise? Here are some of the most visited and famous tombs at Père Lachaise Cemetery. Have fun searching them out!
1. Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849) the legendary composer and pianist, is considered to be one of the most influential and celebrated figures in classical music history. Always adorned with fresh flowers, don’t be surprised to arrive at his tomb and find someone playing Chopin on the violin. Born in Poland, Chopin wanted his heart to be returned and buried in his homeland.
2. Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the famous Irish writer and playwright who wrote The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Grey, was known for his wit, charm, and flamboyance. His grave in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris remains one of the most visited. Don’t be surprised to find it covered in red lipstick kisses, despite the plexiglass surrounding it.
3. Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac (1799 – 1850) was an acclaimed French novelist and playwright and is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in literary history. With over 100 novels to his name, including classics such as “La Comedie Humaine” and “Pere Goriot,” Balzac’s influence on literature is immeasurable.
Pro Travel Tip: If you are planning a trip to the Loire Valley, you can visit the Château de Saché where Balzac escaped to Paris to concentrate on his writing. It is very close to the Château d’Azay le Rideau.
4. Edith Piaf
Edith Piaf (1915- 1963) the iconic French singer, captivated audiences with her passionate performances and distinctive voice. Piaf’s final resting place has become a pilgrimage site for fans from all over the globe. Hum a favourite tune such as “La Vie en Rose” as you visit her tombstone and pay homage to “The Little Sparrow” as she was fondly known.
5. Abélard And Héloïse
The passionate relationship between Pierre Abélard (1079-1142) and Héloïse (died 1163) has been written about in literature, music and art for centuries and continues to captivate us today. Héloïse was a brilliant scholar who fell in love with her tutor, the philosopher Peter Abélard. Despite societal norms and opposition from their families, they pursued a forbidden romance that ultimately led to tragic consequences. Separated for years, they were finally reunited in death and lie together at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
6. Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison (1943-1971) the iconic frontman of The Doors, was a larger-than-life figure in the world of rock and roll. Morrison’s grave is a pilgrimage site for fans from around the world who come to pay their respects and leave offerings at his final resting place. Some of the offerings are less than savoury such as wads of chewing gum, empty bottles, and fan letters.
7. Allan Kardec
Allan Kardec (1804-1869) was a renowned French educator and philosopher who is best known as the founder of the Spiritist movement. Kardec’s teachings continue to inspire people around the world. His grave has become a place of pilgrimage.
I had never heard of Kardec but on Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) a young man carrying an enormous bouquet of flowers asked me if I knew where his tomb was. We found it together and it was literally covered in fresh flowers. Just recently I passed Kardec’s tomb and it was replete with flowers.
Colette (1873-1954) is the acclaimed French author and trailblazing feminist whose life and legacy have inspired generations of readers and writers alike. From her early days as a young bride to her scandalous affairs with women, Colette’s life was nothing short of fascinating.
9. Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) was a legendary actress, an accomplished sculptor, and even a skilled writer. Sarah Bernhardt was one of the most celebrated theatre performers of her time. Her tomb is a little tricky to find but there are always a few flowers left in her honour.
10. Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust, (1871-1922) the celebrated French novelist and essayist, is one of the most influential literary figures of the 20th century. Best known for his masterpiece In Search of Lost Time, Proust’s work has been studied, analyzed and admired by scholars and readers alike.
11. Amedeo Modigliani
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century, known for his distinctive style and captivating portraits. I can immediately picture hos portraits with almond-shaped eyes, and simplified forms. I kept crossing paths with a young man in search of Modigliani’s grave. We finally found it together. It is one of the trickier ones to find.
12. Victor Noir
This reporter was shot to death by a member of the emperor’s family over a century ago. For about 50 years now myth has it that if women rub his “bulge” and kiss his lips, fertility and a wonderful sex life will soon follow. You could also pop a flower in his upturned tophat! Did you think a walk through Père Lachaise Cemetery would be this exciting?
Other Famous Graves To Look For:
Molière – the renowned French playwright and actor, left an indelible mark on the world of theatre with his witty comedies and satirical plays.
Jean de la Fontaine – the Famous French writer known for his fables.
Gertrude Stein – The American writer and art collector.
Eugène Delacroix – The celebrated French painter and muralist who played a pivotal role in shaping the Romantic movement and revolutionizing French art.
Maria Callas – The celebrated Greek-American opera singer.
Marcel Marceau – the famous French actor and mime artist.
Sir Richard Wallace – the British philanthropist who donated 50 drinking fountains to Paris in 1872. Those green fountains that you see around Paris are Wallace Fountains.
I hope “How to Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery” was helpful and that you enjoy this famous Paris graveyard as much as I do!
Until next time,