Père Lachaise Cemetery

Paris, France

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris city. The cemetery takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. The property, situated on the hillside from which the king watched skirmishing between the Condé and Turenne during the Fronde, was bought by the city in 1804. Established by Napoleon in this year, the cemetery was laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart and later extended.

Père Lachaise Cemetery was opened on 21 May 1804. The first person buried there was a five-year-old girl named Adélaïde Paillard de Villeneuve, the daughter of a door bell-boy of the Faubourg St. Antoine. Her grave no longer exists as the plot was a temporary concession. Napoleon, who had been proclaimed Emperor by the Senate three days earlier, had declared during the Consulate that 'Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion'.

At the time of its opening, the cemetery was considered to be situated too far from the city and attracted few funerals. Moreover, many Roman Catholics refused to have their graves in a place that had not been blessed by the Church. In 1804, the Père Lachaise had contained only 13 graves. Consequently, the administrators devised a marketing strategy and in 1804, with great fanfare, organised the transfer of the remains of Jean de La Fontaine and Molière. The following year there were 44 burials, with 49 in 1806, 62 in 1807 and 833 in 1812. Then, in another great spectacle in 1817, the purported remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse d'Argenteuil were also transferred to the cemetery with their monument's canopy made from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine.

This strategy achieved its desired effect: people began clamouring to be buried among the famous citizens. Records show that, within a few years, Père Lachaise went from containing a few dozen permanent residents to more than 33,000 in 1830. Père Lachaise was expanded five times: in 1824, 1829, 1832, 1842 and 1850. Although some sources incorrectly estimate the number of interred as 300,000 in Père Lachaise, according to official website of the city of Paris, one million people have been buried there. Along with the stored remains in the Aux Morts ossuary, the number of human remains exceeds 2–3 million.

The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) is also located in the cemetery. This is the site where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville, were shot on 28 May 1871 – the last day of the 'Bloody Week' (Semaine Sanglante) in which the Paris Commune was crushed.

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Address

Chemin Berthollé, Paris, France
See all sites in Paris

Details

Founded: 1804
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in France

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Zoran Lutovac (14 months ago)
The famous cemetery of Paris, every time full of people in front of Jim's grave. It is not possible to see everything in one day, at the entrance you can buy the map and prepare your feet for a long walk.
S.H. Animations (14 months ago)
Huge and astonishing place. Many old monuments and tombstones of famous people.
Veronica Lopez (15 months ago)
Great stroll if you are in the area. We went in the fall so the turning of the leaves added to the ambiance. Can be a bit of a walk, particularly if you do the whole cemetery, and it is located on a hill with cobblestone streets, so best to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes in the winter as it can get windy in and around the cemetery. The Morrison tomb is gated off but you can still catch a glimpse from behind the fence.
Ken Adams (15 months ago)
Beautiful cemetery that you can enjoy and pay respect to the over 33,000 graves including famous and amazing people such as CHOPIN, Edith, Jim Morrison and Rothschild. Toilets are available at the main entrance gate and located close to other amenities.
Clare Milford (2 years ago)
We were staying nearby so thought we'd visit the cemetery for a walk on our last day in Paris - it's not a typical tourist site but makes for an interesting trip. We bought a map at the entrance for 2.50 euro and only covered the north west quadrant in the time we were there. It is large and you could spend all day there if you're really keen. It was interesting to see the grave sites of some famous historical figures and also just to wander around and look at the variety of stones and adornments.
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