Filed under : Editors Choice, Europe

Seniors Stroll Through Père Lachaise

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Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris (44 hectares or 110 acres). This senior can speak with some authority as I have strolled through the cemetery myself.

Opened in 1804 on the site of a former Jesuit retreat, Père-Lachaise is today one of the world’s largest and most famous cemeteries. One doesn’t usually associate a cemetery with a romantic stroll, but for me, a visit to Père-Lachaise was exactly that.

Tucked away in a corner of northeastern Paris known to locals as Menilmontant, the cemetery is affectionately called ‘la cité des morts’ (the city of the dead), by Parisians. The world’s most visited cemetery, Père Lachaise (named after a confessor of Louis XIV) opened its one-way doors in 1804. Its 69,000 ornate, even ostentatious, tombs of the rich and/or famous form a verdant sculpture garden.

 A Cemetery…Who Knew?

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Père Lachaise is claimed to be the most visited graveyard in the world, with more than a million and a half visitors each year. Read here what visitors say about their experience at the cemetery.

Père Lachaise is not only the burial place of celebrated artists, writers, and political figures, it’s also an incomparably secretive, peaceful place, with its winding pathways, lush landscapes and towering war monuments.

Most senior tourists simply put it off their itinerary, it’s a cemetery. Put it on yours. The neatest part is suddenly seeing a huge sepulcher with some famous person’s name engraved on the front panel. There are hundreds of these and among the most famous is Jim Morrison who was the lead singer of ‘The Doors’.

His is a remarkably simple tomb, but it is one of the most popular in the cemetery and is kept constant vigil by fans from all over the world. I wanted to see Morrison’s tombstone and it was rather easy to find as graffiti led me right to it with signs that read… “Jim -> This Way” or “Just follow the arrows to Jim.” When I found his tomb, there sat a fellow with a beer in his hands pouring it over the stone.

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 Seniors Visit Unusual Major Site In Paris

Other residents of the cemetery include the French playwright Molière, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and so many more. On a sunny day, climbing to the cemetery’s summit and looking down on the lavishly designed crypts can be a pleasant surprise. With 5,000 trees, it is the largest park in Paris.

Of the ten major sites in Paris, Père Lachaise ranks #10, right in there with such sites as the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, Montmartre and others.

It’s a quiet, pleasant place for a stroll or a rest. And easy to forget that it’s a cemetery.  Enjoy this tour of Père Lachaise.  jeb

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