HALLOWEEN GREETINGS

FINAL REST: PERE LACHAISE

The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is the most visited cemetery in the world. On a recent trip, I visited this vast, interesting place. Famed for being the first garden cemetery, it opened in 1804 but there isn’t much space devoted to what we would think of as gardens. Instead, the cemetery is chock full of ornate, closely placed tombs. If you’ve visited the cemeteries of New Orleans, you’d feel right at home here. The sixty-nine thousand tombs cover a range of architectural styles, but the Gothic crypt seems to predominate in the older sections.

Although there are over one million interred in the cemetery, and there is a waiting list today, it wasn’t always a popular burial site with Parisians. Located far outside the city when it opened, and not being attached to a church, made it an undesirable final resting place. So a bit of creative marketing helped it along. First, Jean de La Fontaine (poet) and Moliere (playwright, actor, and poet) were buried there. Burying the famous in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery increased its popularity. A decade or so later, the purported remains of Abelard and Heloise (the famous lovers) were moved to the cemetery and then Parisians clamored to get in. By 1830, the cemetery had thirty-three thousand graves!

Today, people visit the Pere Lachaise to see the tombs and architecture, and the graves of the famous. Americans are probably most interested in Jim Morrison’s grave. There’s an interesting story on how he came to be interred here. He died in Paris, but cemetery officials weren’t interested in offering a musician a place. They were persuaded when they found out he was working on a novel. The cemetery has many famous writers including Balzac, Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde. The graves of composer Frederic Chopin and actress Sarah Bernhardt can also be visited.

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Oscar Wilde

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Hahnemann- father of homeopathy

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “HALLOWEEN GREETINGS

  1. Susan Bernhardt

    I don’t know how I missed all of these interesting posts on your website. We were just listening to Jim Morrison a few minutes ago. You certainly made the most of your time in Europe travelling.

  2. I had a brief visit to Pere Lachaise two years ago, and was surprised to see that the 19th century French spiritualist Kardec’s grave still gets fresh flowers, and had followers standing in awe at his grave. We made an effort to track down the grave of Georges Melies, who shot the 1902 “A Trip to the Moon.”

  3. Many years ago, I had spent an entire week at the cemeteries of Paris, photographing the angel statues on the graves, among them was Pere Lachaise. A beautiful place for resting your thoughts.

  4. Very interesting! I would love to go there.

  5. reanolanmartin

    Ellis, love this! I have been to Pere LaChaise, and it’s amazing. No one could tell me then where the name came from– (Father Chair lol!)–but thanks to google, I now know Father LaChaise was the confessor to Louis XIV. Definitely a place worth visiting! Thanks for the memories.

  6. Paging Mrs Zen

    Beautiful!

  7. Reblogged this on ELLIS NELSON BOOKS and commented:

    Doing the less usual. NOT the Eiffel Tower. A different view of Paris.

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