Paris is known for her beautiful, serene cemeteries. They usually double up as open museums, where some of the worldâ€™s most famous are resting. Therefore I recommend visiting the PÃ¨re-Lachaise Cemetery; it’s a free Paris attraction with lots of history.
Located on a gentle hill, the walk around this Paris attractions can be fairly exhausting. But the thick, leafy trees and winding cobblestone lanes make it a beautiful one.
The cemetery is named after PÃ¨re de la Chaise, confessor to King Louis XIV. The present day cemetery used to house a Jesuit order, and this is where the priest lived.
The cemetery was opened in 1804, but because of its location (a fair distance from the heart of Paris) it wasnâ€™t used much. It took much campaigning by Napoleon, who was worried about the unsanitary condition caused by Parisâ€™s over crowded cemeteries, to encourage its use. This included relocating a number of graves of famous Parisians from other cemeteries to this one.
Some tombstones are elaborate and works of art. Others have a simple sophistication to them. Some though have been forgotten and are in conditions of disrepair, and yet that doesnâ€™t translate into an eyesore. They still retain their elegance.
With thousands of graves and tombstones here, things can get jumbled. The chaos of multiple gravestones though is offset by neat street names and direction boards.
PÃ¨re-Lachaise is the resting place for a number of celebrities. The most popular resident (or at least the most visited by tourists) is Jim Morrison. Other big names include Chopin, Proust, Colette, and Oscar Wilde.
While entry to the cemetery is free, Iâ€™d recommend arming yourself with a cemetery map. It is easy to get lost inside and a map makes it a little easier to find the tombstones you want to see without spending hours and hours wandering around, unless thatâ€™s the whole idea of the visit of course.
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