9.5.08

Père Lachaise cemetery


The most famous and largest cemetery in Paris is called Père Lachaise, in the eastern part of the city. The area was once a Jesuit retreat and the cemetery got its name from the confessor of Louis XIV.

Napoleon decided to make it a cemetery in 1804. It was then outside the city borders. Many of Napoleon’s marshals and generals are buried here.

Some 300.000 bodies are buried at Père Lachaise, many more in the columbarium.

The look of the graveyard is a bit different from most other ones, with hardly any straight lines. The landscape is very hilly. It offers nice environment for a peaceful walk, although the place is very much visited. On the lower left picture here below you can see the Communards’ Wall (Mur des Fédérés) where 147 communards, the last defenders of the Belleville district (see my posts about Belleville) were shot and buried. Close to this wall you can find graves of leading communist and socialist leaders and also a number of monuments honouring the victims of different wars and concentration camps. The number of famous people who have been buried here is enormous. I can give you some names in disorder: Delacroix, Proust, Haussmann, Maria Callas, Murat, Jean Moulin, Modigliani, Apolinnaire, de Lesseps, Bizet, Sarah Bernhardt, Daladier, David, Beaumarchais, Saint Simon, Visconti, Yves Montand, Félix Faure, Champollion, Pissarro, Thiers, Ney, Allan Kardec, Ingres, Balzac, Molière, Denon, Isadora Duncan, Jim Morrisson, Simone Signoret, G.Saint-Cyr, de Musset, J. de la Fontaine, Cherubini, Marcel Marceau, Rossini, O. Wilde, Max Ernst, Nadar, Poulenc, Daudet, Bellini, Seurat, Asturias, Géricault, Edith Piaf…

The most visited graves seem to be those of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. The one of Oscar Wilde is completely covered with inscriptions, graffiti, lipstick kisses…

I show you some of these graves –not all, but many – some names may be known only by French readers.… Perhaps special attention should be drawn to a few, like that of Félix Faure. He was a French president and died from apoplexy in 1899 when he was having sexual activities with a young mistress who later became known as “la pompe funèbre” (wordplay in French, which could mean funeral pomp or funeral pump).

Victor Noir was an ordinary journalist, but he and his grave have become famous. He was killed by a cousin to the Emperor Napoleon III. The sculpture of him on his grave gives the impression that he is sexually exited and it has become a fertility symbol… which can be noted by the more shining parts of the sculpture.

Some these pictures can be found on my photo-blog.

I wish you a nice weekend, this time Monday included. See you Tuesday!

44 comments:

raindrop said...

J'avais prévu une visite au cimetière le vendredi matin, dernier jour de mon séjour à Paris. Malheureusement, j'ai attrapé une angine et je suis allée chez le docteur ce jour-lá.
Mais avec toutes ces belles photos et ces explications, j'ai l'impression d'y être allée.
Merci Peter

Shionge said...

What a visit Peter, the design evolves through the test of time I've enjoyed this because for tourists visiting Paris they wouldn't visit a cemetary for sure.

Thank you Peter for snapping the photos.

LeenaM said...

It`s soothing to walk a moment in the place like this and let a history go through your mind, all those names, which you mentioned,are more or less known.
I have walked there, it was a peaceful moment during that week in Paris.

claude said...

Ce cimetière est très beau et il y a bu beau monde qui repose là ! C'est le cimetière des very important persons.

delphinium said...

Bonjour peteur. :-)
Bon les cimetières, parfois cela me donne froid dans le dos. Beaucoup d'adeptes du mouvement gothique aiment se balader dans les cimetières, l'ambiance un peu sombre qui y règne, une communion avec les morts et aussi une certaine esthétique font qu'il est bon pour un gothique de se promener entre les tombes. Pour les non-gothiques aussi apparemment.
En regardant tes photos, je me dis que certains monuments sont vraiment... affreux. Et d'autres très beaux. Je trouve quand même tout cela très massif, trop pour moi.
Dans un petit village valaisan, (il est vrai que peu de grands artistes y sont enterrés), la commune a décidé que toutes les tombes seraient semblables, afin qu'il n'y ait pas de différence dans la mort. Les plus riches ne peuvent pas avoir un gigantesque monument à côté d'une tout petite tombe. J'aime assez cette politique. Il est vrai que cela enlève toute imagination et toute fantaisie dans l'art mortuaire. Bref...
Ah oui ce village valaisan possède la vigne la plus haute d'Europe.
voici le site internet, attention, c'est tout en allemand.
http://www.visperterminen.ch/

Bises

Maxime said...

Encore un jardin avec beaucoup de monde. Le rapprochement me rappelle cette parole de Prévert "dépêchez-vous de manger sur l'herbe, car bientôt ce sera l'herbe qui vous mangera dessus".

Olivier said...

j'aime bien la tombe de Desproges, tout en fouillis.
Certains cimetières sont de vrai musée, celui ci tout particulièrement.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Wow. A fabulous look at the final resting place of lots of people more famous than me. I enjoyed this tour but still find that mind boggling.

Alex said...

J'adore les cimetières mais je ne suis pas une gothique. Je vous aller au père Lachaise quand je suis montée à Paris mais je n'ai pas eu le temps. Merci de nous faire une visite privée.
Mon WE se composera de beaucoup de révisions et d'un peu de lecture de Stieg Larsson (c'était Stig ou Stieg ??). J'ai un peu mal à la tête depuis hier et ça m'est difficile de bosser ma comptabilité.
As-tu eu mon mail avec la photo que j'ai prise rue de Belleville ??

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

Hello Peter,
I am not a 'lover' from cemetery's but the way YOU are discribing them its great and a reall adventure! Wonderfull!

answer about 'swiss wine' for Peter, YES! we tried the red wine of the SWISS area 'Valais' this tasted very creamy and FULL, good for aside of Red meat or Blue cheeses, we were very surprised of this good taste.

Happy weekend from JoAnn:)

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ruth said...

You did an amazing job with this. That place is so huge, you can really get worn out. I wonder if you took all these shots on more than one day? Wonderful.

Evelyn said...

Thank you for taking me back to one of my favorite haunts in Paris! I adore cemeteries...what better way to re-live history? The scultpure is beautiful and although there were many other people strolling, the cemetery felt very peaceful. It's so touching that people still pay homage to their favorite people. Edith Piaf's grave was covered with offerings of love.

hpy said...

I don't know why, but I thought that yopu wouldn't publish anything today. See you on Monday then ;)

Mathilde said...

Bonsoir Peter,

Un post très intéressant parce que le cimetière Lachaise est un pan plus ou moins connu de l'histoire et parfaitement illustré par tes photos. Il est si proche de chez moi, que je peux presque dire que j’en connais chaque pavé… seul détail agaçant dans cet endroit, la marche est malaisée. Je te souhaite un agréable WE et à bientôt Peter.

ALAIN said...

Ce cimetière ne me rappelle pas que de bons souvenirs de ballade et je serai incapable d'y prendre des photos. Moi aussi j'habitais tout près il y a peu de temps, j'étais donc voisin avec Mathilde.
Ta première photo avec la coupe de fleurs posée sur la tombe est très belle.

Noushy Syah said...

Erkk..I'm a lil bit childish...cemetery is a 'scary and disturbing' place for me....

Heather said...

I love cemeteries ~ the older the better ~ and Père Lachaise is one of the most beautiful. It was a favorite stop when friends and I visited Paris some years ago. Merci for bringing back such great memories with your beautiful photographs!

lasiate said...

un lieu de promenade et de rencontre. Et on moins si on tombe amoureux c'est pour la mort ;)

DeeDee said...

My goodness Peter..I have never seen anything quite like this..I am just amazed at all the fantastic monuments and statues...very interesting....Dee Dee

Chuckeroon said...

Good Morning, Peter! What a contrast between the misty Swedish lake and the Parc Citroen!

Dina said...

Hi Peter, I must say I do not like cemetries but you have taken some great shots. I have sent you an invite so that you can visit my other blog :)

Matritensis said...

I´m not a weird man, but i like cemeteries, When i´m out of Spain, always visit two things, cemeteries and markets, and other monuments and museums too of course!

Great post and very nice pictures

Peter said...

raindrop:
Pas de chance! Tu peux quand' même revenir pour une vraie visite!

shionge:
Actually, this is number four on the list of sites visited by tourists in Patis.

leenam:
You see, shionge: tourists go there!

Peter said...

claude:
You are right, c'est bien ça!

Peter said...

delphinium:
Le peteur piteur te remercie pour ces commentaires! :-) Gothique ou non, le nombre de visiteurs est impressionant! Il y avait sans doute un excès dans la volonté de faire le monument le plus extravagant au 19e siècle. Pendant le 20e siècle on a été bien plus raisonable. Pour ma part, je ne demande pas de monument chez Père Lachaise. Quelques cendres dans le vent ou sur une pelouse, ça suffit!

J'ai visité le site sur le village (l'allemand, ça passe, tant que ce n'est pas de Schwyzerdütsch!) Il faudrait que tu me guides sur le vin suisses... y compris les rouges!

Peter said...

maxime:
Prévert savait trouver les mots!

olivier:
La tombe de Pierre D lui va très bien!

abraham:
Who is more famous than Abraham Lincoln?

Peter said...

alex:
Tout le monde ne peut pas être (ou avoir été) gothique!
C'est plau agréable d'étudier Stig L que la comptabilité, je suis d'accord! Pour son prénom, c'est bien Stig, mais comme la prononciation est plutôt comme Stieg, on a du franciser son nom ici.

ruth:
Less than one day, but a few hours...

evelyn:
Since the film "La Vie en Rose", I believe that the grave of Edith is now the most visited, even more than those of Jim M and Oscr W! You are right, the place is much visited, but it's so large that you anyhow have a feeling of peace and calm.



joann:
Delphinium sera bien contente de lire tes commentaires sur le vin rouge suisse!

Peter said...

hpy:
... or maybe even Tuesday!

mathilde:
C'est vrai; ça monte et ça descend, mais c'est aussi ce qui donne la beauté à la place. Je te souhaite également un bon week-end et à bientôt!

alain:
On a peut-être des souvenirs semblables... mais j'ai quand' même pris des photos.

noushy:
If you go during the day and hold the hand of someone...

Peter said...

heather:
Nice if I could revive some nice memories!

lasiate:
Quelques souvenirs particuliers?

deedee:
So, now at least you have seen it on photos. Remains to make a real visit!

Peter said...

chuckeroon:
A bit more crowded in Paris ... especially when the sun shines!

dina:
Thanks! will be back and see your lovely kids!

matritensis:
Good to know that you are not weird! You are right to visit other places than museums and monuments! Look for places where this is a special local atmosphere!

Therese said...

I like your last commentary "I wish you a nice weekend" indeed something to reflect on.. lol

Azer Mantessa said...

this is unique. as far as architecture is concern, cemetary is another place to visit. i am glad that you have given a thought on this one.

mine is going to be simple though. i have asked my kids to make my grave as simple as possible. bury me in the earth as usual and picked two boulders from a river nearby about twice head size as signage. i forbid them for any fancy kinda grave. that would save them money. they need it more than i will :-)

GMG said...

Hi Peter! Sorry for having taken so long to come back here; I wouldn't say that this week I had to take care of a certain couple (Carl Gustav and Silvia are their names) that were strolling around Portugal, because it's not true; but in 1998 I remember delivering a speech in a Conference at the Swedish Parliament in her presence... ;) Ageing!
Now, Swedish architecture. Great post with some beautiful pictures; you just forgot to include the af Chapman, my first encounter with hostel architecture in Sweden (the night before was slept in a sleeping bag under a viaduct in a highway near Husqvarna... ;))
Sorry for all the memories about your country, but it happens that I always considered Stockholm (in Summer) one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
The «events» post is also wonderful! The canal trip must be an incredible journey, by decent weather I mean...
Now Paris: It seems that everybody went to the André Citröen Park; missing Paris Plage probably...
Lucky guys, the Parisians, to have all these holidays in May!
Finally, the Père Lachaise. Great post! You caught them all! The Wall, however, looks a bit different than in 1979... ;)
Thanks for your comment on Blogtrotter, where I’m now in Casablanca, however missing Ilsa Lund… ;(
Hope you have a great weekend!
Gil

GMG said...

Missed to mention «la pompe funèbre» What a story!! ;)

Marie-Noyale said...

J'aime beaucoup la citation de Prevert!!
je n'ai jamais visité le Pere Lachaise mais grace a ce post et ce travail remarquable,c'est tout comme!
Enjoy the WE.

Ex-Shammickite said...

I wandered around Pere Lachaise when I was in Paris with my sons 3 yrs ago... so I probably took many of the same photos as you have. I thought it was such an interesting place... and it was raining slightly, just some drizzle, with a grey sky, and the whole place seemed so peaceful and old. I loved it.
I visited the grave of Gilbert Becaud... one of my favourites.
I have posted some pictures of my beautiful grandson today... you ahve to visit!!

Peter said...

therese:
Nice weekends are nice, especially if they are long, as this one!

azer:
The wish for these extravagant graves has disppeared in general. I believe it was especially a 19th century phenomenon.

gmg:
Best regards to Silvia next time you meet her!
af Chapman is of course in Stockholm and this time I concentrated on "my" town, Gothenburg. There are however somenice sailing ships moored also there.
Ilsa Lund (Ingrid B) is probably always a reference that comes in to your mind when Casablanca is a topic!
Thanks gmg for this extensive reading and your comments!

Peter said...

marie-noyale:
Nothing is better than a real visit, so please think of Père Lachaise next time in Paris!

ex-shammickite:
I will go to your blog immediately!

Deslilas said...

C'est l'un des seuls cimetières fréquentables français. La plupart sont sinistres.
Le Père Lachaise est mal pavé mais pleins de ressources pour les touristes et pour ceux qui recherchent le calme.
Superbe post.

Mona said...

Such Lovely pictures!

I came to tell you that I suffered Angina about ten days ago and have been in the hospital for some time. But I am recovering now.

annulla said...

I have always wanted to visit this very famous cemetery, and this is the closest I have ever gotten.

Of course, everyone knows the names of some of the people buried there, but your photo tour provided many surprises, too. I didn't realize that Signoret and Montand were there, together. Thanks for taking me to this amazing spot.

By the way, in 1979 our former governor, Nelson Rockefeller, died at the age of 70 in exactly the same manner as President Faure -- while making love to his 26-year-old mistress.


Blather From Brooklyn

lyliane said...

J'y suis allée souvent avec mon ami Jean Jacques, les fenêtres de son appartement donnaient dessus.
Malheureusement la dernière fois que j'y suis allée c'était pour l'accompagner dans son dernier voyage.

Kate said...

I missed this post initially, but am happy that you provided a link on your post today. One of the first places I visited in Paris, it's fun again to see some of the tombstones of so many of those marvelous people, too many to even identify, but my favorite must be Sarah Bernhardt. Sarah is our granddaughter's nickname when she becomes too theatrical. She's still too young to understand, but she knows it's not altogether flattering and dislikes it so we've stopped using it. But I have a silent smile whenever I think of SB and our darling 'Livie!