Monday, November 10, 2008

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

It's all about C today which taking us to Cimetère du Père-Lachaise up in the 20th arrondissement (a little nod to our letter A word).   A visit here or to any of the cemeteries in Paris is a trip worth taking as they are beautifully maintained park like settings with sculpture that rivals anything you'd see during your visit here.  

Established in 1804 by Napoleon I, Père-Lachaise was created following a ban in Paris requiring cemeteries to be moved to the outskirts of the city as they posed a serious health threat to the residents. Four cemeteries were created to meet the needs of the city:  Père-Lachaise was built to the east of the city, Monmartre in the north, Montparnasse in the south and Passy near the Eiffel Tower.  I can only speak for Père-Lachaise and Montparnasse which in my mind are worth an afternoon of discovery. 

It is here that luminaries, writers, scholars and artists from France, as well as England and America--adopted sons and daughters-- find themselves for all eternity.  Families determined to honor their loved ones as best they could, worked to outdo one another in the size and and beauty of monuments devoted to those buried here.  The piece of Gothic stonework in the photo above is dedicated to Abélard and Heloise, a complicated story of love, loss, pregnancy, secret marriage, separation....the planets certainly were not aligned for this couple, however, they lay side by side in this beautiful home.   

French playwright and actor, Jean-Baptiste Molière 

Neo-classical painter responsible for the painting at the top of my blog, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Not my favorite memorial but one of my favorite authors, Oscar Wilde. His tomb is covered in lipstick red kisses left behind by admirers.

Chopin, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas and Sarah Bernhardt are other luminaries whose remarkable and not so remarkable tombstones are covered with single roses or love letters left by current admirers.  Because of its park like atmosphere you will find picnickers taking lunch or lovers nestled together on benches throughout.  A detailed map purchased at the entrance can be your guide for your own celebrity hunt.  

Additional information:  Cimitière Pere-Lachaise
                                             Blvd de Ménilmontant
                                             Métro:  Père-Lachaise 
                                             Open daily

Photo credit:  Wikipedia


Phivos Nicolaides said...

Another good post Kim! I enjoyed it very much. Thank you my dear.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love this place. Always recommend it to friends who go to Paris. Can't forget my favourite resident~Jim Morrison. Always fun to see the hooplah that he still inspires. One of the only graves there that is still garded and barricaded. I'm certain that the skies opened and the angels sang when I visited...or was that me? Leanne