Monday, November 3, 2008

Pere Lachaise

Bonjour all! Oh how I've missed you! I have had a nutty kind of week & I am so happy to be back on the computer. It started with a spider (which has been "taken care of") and ended this morning with a trip to the vet for my sick little doggy (she's fine now). My computer has been sick as well but we are back in business! I can't believe I missed Halloween! It is one of my favorite holidays & I was planning on doing a post on the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, so I'll do it now! Better late than never! :) So Spooky! I love the this cemetery, it is so beautiful and breathtaking! When I was there I wanted to stay for hours, I didn't want to miss anything! It is definitely not Forest Lawn!

These are notes left to Oscar Wilde on his grave

Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris at over 118 acres. It is one of the worlds most famous cemetery's and reputed to be the world's most visited. It is named after a confessor to Louis XIV, Pere Francois de la Chaise. It has been expanded many times and houses some remarkable people that have graced this earth over the last 200 years. Cemeteries had been banned inside Paris in 1786, on the grounds that it presented a health hazard. (This same health hazard also led to the creation of the famous catacombs in the south of the city.) Several new cemeteries replaced the Parisian ones, outside the precincts of the capital: Monmarte in the north, Père Lachaise in the east, and Montparnasse in the south. At the heart of the city, is Passy.
When it opened, the cemetery was considered to be too far from the city and attracted few funerals. So, the administrators devised a marketing strategy and with great fanfare organised the transfer of the remains of La Fontain and Moliere, in 1804. 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.

Some famous residents:
Yves Montand~ film actor

Jim Morrison~ American singer and songwriter, author, and poet. Permanent crowds and occasional vandalism surround this tomb

Alfred de Musset~ French poet, novelist, dramatist
Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon)~ a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist.

Gérard de Nerval~ French poet.

Victor Noir~ Journalist killed by Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte in a dispute over a duel with Paschal Grousset. The tomb, notable for the realistic portrayal of the dead Noir, the sculpture has become a fertility symbol. His lips are kissed, the sculpture is rubbed and flowers are left in his hat.
Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione~ Famous Italian courtesan

Michel Petrucciani~ French Jazz pianist.

Édith Piaf~ Famous French singer.

Camille Pissarro~ French Impressionist painter.

Marcel Proust~ French intellectual, novelist, essayist and critic.

Edmond James de Rothschild~ Baron of the Rothschild family.

Countess Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry~ The writer who was married to Comte Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who is the author of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince).

Georges-Pierre Seurat~ French painter and father of neoimpressionism.

Simone Signoret~ Academy-award winning French actress.

William Sidney Smith~ British admiral of whom Napoleon Bonaparte said, "That man made me miss my destiny".

Gertrude Stein~ American author.

Oscar Wilde~ Irish novelist, poet and playwright. Wilde's admirers kiss the monument while wearing lipstick.
Honoré de Balzac~ French novelist of the 19th century.

Sarah Bernhardt~ French stage and film actress.

Georges Bizet~ French composer and conductor.

Jean de Brunhoff~ Author of Babar the Elephant.

Gustave Caillebotte~ French Impressionist painter.

Maria Callas~ The opera singer's ashes were originally buried in the cemetery. After being stolen and later recovered, they were scattered into the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece. The empty urn remains in Père Lachaise.

Jean-Joseph Carriès~ Sculptor, ceramist, and miniaturist.

Frédéric Chopin~ Polish composer. His heart is entombed within a pillar at the Holy Cross Church, Poland.
All images courtesy of Flickr

I will be back tomorrow...I promise! If you enjoy the Pere Lachaise cemetery I recommend La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires Argentina. I loved this one too! So beautiful (can that be said of a cemetery? I wonder). Hmmm, I'm wondering how much it would cost to be buried at Pere Lachaise!

Bisou Mon Amis!
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  1. Hi Judith,
    Great to see you back! I am glad to hear that your spider was "disposed of"! :)
    I spent one birthday wondering around Pere Lachaise. It was absolutely beautiful and so full of history, however oh so depressing. All the while, I still love that cemetary. Thanks for the great tour!

  2. Good to hear your dog is better. Beautiful cemetary as far as cemetaries go. I never visited it while Paris.

  3. So good to hear your dog is Okay. I recognize so many of these famous names and I have never visited it on my Paris trips. Amanda x

  4. Hi Judith,

    What a great post. Beautiful images.

  5. Such a great post! WHen we stayed in Paris, we had an apartment in the 20th, with our 4 large windows overlooking the Pere Lachaise (right near the Jewish section). It was wonderful and quiet at night and very affordable as it is a working class part of town. excellent for long stays like ours, and we enjoyed visiting the dead people....

    xo Terri


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