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Père Lachaise Cemetery: Wikis


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Looking down the hill at Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise Cemetery (French: Cimetière du Père-Lachaise; officially, cimetière de l'Est, "East Cemetery") is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France at (48 ha, 118.6 acres),[1] though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs.

Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years. It is also the site of three World War I memorials.

Père Lachaise is located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on line 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. Many tourists prefer the Gambetta station on line 3 as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.


Composite image, including details (right), of tomb of Peter Abélard and Héloïse.

The cemetery takes its name from the confessor to Louis XIV, Père François de la Chaise (1624–1709), who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. The property, situated on the hillside from which the king, during the Fronde, watched skirmishing between the Condé and Turenne, was bought by the city in 1804, laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, and later extended.

The columbarium holds cremated remains.
The monument honouring the French Brigadists.

The cemetery was established by Napoleon I in 1804. Cemeteries had been banned inside Paris in 1786, after the closure of the Saints Innocents Cemetery (Cimetière des Innocents) on the fringe of Les Halles food market, on the grounds that it presented a health hazard. (This same health hazard also led to the creation of the famous Parisian catacombs in the south of the city.) Several new cemeteries replaced the Parisian ones, outside the precincts of the capital: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise in the east, and Montparnasse Cemetery in the south. At the heart of the city, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, is Passy Cemetery.

At the time of its opening, the cemetery was considered to be situated too far from the city and attracted few funerals. Consequently, the administrators devised a marketing strategy and with great fanfare organised the transfer of the remains of La Fontaine and Molière, in 1804. Then, in another great spectacle in 1817, the purported remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse were also transferred to the cemetery with their monument's canopy made from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine (by tradition, lovers or lovelorn singles leave letters at the crypt in tribute to the couple or in hope of finding true love) (see disputation).

This strategy achieved its desired effect when people began clamouring to be buried among the famous citizens. Records show that, within a few years, Père Lachaise went from containing a few dozen permanent residents to more than 33,000. Today there are over 300,000 bodies buried there, and many more in the columbarium, which holds the remains of those who had requested cremation.

The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) is also located in the cemetery. This is the site where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville, were shot on 28 May 1871 — the last day of the "Bloody Week" (Semaine Sanglante) in which the Paris Commune was crushed.

After that week, the cemetery gained a special importance to the political left in France, manifested in annual processions sometimes drawing tens or even hundreds of thousands of participants (some 600,000 in 1936) and led by the main leaders of the left parties and organizations. Various prominent left-wing leaders are buried in the vicinity, where a monument was also erected honouring the French Brigadists (volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War).

Adolphe Thiers, widely blamed for the massacres of "Bloody Week", is an ironic resident of the cemetery. His tomb has occasionally been subject to vandalism.

Burials at Père Lachaise

Among those interred here are:

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Grave of François Arago


Grave of Sarah Bernhardt


Grave of Jean-François Champollion


Cremated remains of Isadora Duncan in the Columbarium


Grave of Paul Éluard


Fourier's grave, Pere Lachaise


Grave of Théodore Géricault
Grave of Claire and Yvan Goll





Grave of François Kellermann



Grave of Joachim Murat


Grave of Michel Ney



The grave of Édith Piaf


Grave of Georges Rodenbach


Grave of Louis Suchet




  • Marie, Countess Walewski — Napoleon's mistress, credited for pers­ing Napoleon to take important pro-Polish decisions during the Napoleonic Wars. Only her heart is entombed here; her other remains were returned to her native Poland.
  • Sir Richard Wallace — English art collector and philanthropist
  • Eduard WiiraltEstonian artist
  • Oscar Wilde — Irish novelist, poet and playwright. By tradition, Wilde's admirers kiss the art-deco monument while wearing lipstick (see picture below). Wilde died in 1900 and was initially buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux. His remains were transferred in 1909 to Père Lachaise. The tomb is also the resting place of the ashes of Robert Ross, who commissioned the monument.
  • Jeanette Wohl — French literary editor, longtime friend and correspondent of Ludwig Börne
  • Richard WrightAfrican-American author, wrote Native Son and other American classics


See also



External links

Coordinates: 48°51′36″N 2°23′46″E / 48.860°N 2.396°E / 48.860; 2.396

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