Visiting the Père Lachaise Cemetery

As one of the most famois cemeteries in the area, the Cimetière du Père Lachaise is a popular destination for Parisian tourists and locals alike. Because it is literally on the other side of the city from where I live and spend most of my time, I hadn’t had a chance to visit it until this past weekend.

Saturday was sunny and warm, making it the perfect day to venture over to a new part of the city. It’s not exactly the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, but I found the Père Lachaise cemetery to be full of culture and history. If this sort of thing interests you, I would recommend it as a stop on your Paris trip.

Before you show up to the cemetery, however, be sure to get organized. This giant area full of trees, gravestones, statues, and tourists can seem overwhelming, so using a map and a personalized plan will help you make your most out of the visit.

About the Cemetery

Due to the overcrowding of Paris’s graves in the late 1700’s, Napoleon Bonaparte established the Père Lachaise cemetery as a secular burial place. To promote the cemetery and encourage Parisians to look toward the western limits of the city, the cemetery’s administrators launched a special marketing campaign. This included relocating some famous people formerly buried in other cemeteries to Père Lachaise.

Today, many celebrities, including writers, artists, musicians, politicians, as well as ordinary people, choose the Père Lachaise cemetery as their final resting spot. While it still serves primarily as a cemetery, it is also a common tourist destination. Visitors come to check out the nature, the creative statues, and of course, the graves of many famous personalities.

Organizing Your Visit

Because the cemetery is so large, it is important to look at a map ahead of time to plan your visit. Consider whose graves you want to see, then either mark these on a printed map or make note in your phone of how to get to each plot. I recommend strategically planning your route to see each of these graves, as well as any other parts of the cemetery that interest you, rather circling around the area repeatedly in search of something that you already passed before.

Notable Graves to Visit

There are hundreds of people buried at Père Lachaise, and your own unique backgrounds and interests will likely determine which graves you choose to find. During my visit, I chose to look for the following notable figures’ graves:

Jim Morrison

Edith Piaf


Frédéric Chopin

Georges Seurat

Oscar Wilde

Jean de La Fontaine

Honoré de Balzac 

Additional people buried at Cimetière du Père Lachaise include Bonne Maman, Ahmet Kaya, Pierre Quillard, Arman, and Maria Callas, among others. There are also numerous monuments built in memory of groups of people, such as those who passes away during the Holocaust or while fighting in certain wars.

As you explore the Père Lachaise cemetery, perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the importance of preserving tranquility. Take this time in nature to meditate over the lives of those resting here, as well as your own life.

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