blog.categories.trip-and-adviceHistory, art and culture

10 most impressive graves at Père Lachaise

It might sound a bit of a strange thing to do, visit a graveyard, but in the spirit of Halloween and the fact that Paris is home to one of the most impressive cemeteries in the world, why wouldn’t we recommend you saw it with your own eyes? Père Lachaise is home to many celebrated names – albeit deceased. Those buried in the popular grounds include Eugene Delacroix, Max Ernst, Jean de la Fontaine, Molière, Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde, to name but a few! Today, over 200 years later, you can walk through the 110 acres of over 300,000 shrines, tombs and graves and take in the splendour of life after death. Some say it’s the most visited graveyard in the world so we thought you ought to pay a visit. It might be impossible to see all graves and tombs in just one go, so we picked our top 10 most impressive. After all, when else would it be more appropriate to pay them a visit than on all hallows eve? Georges Rodenbach Although he's not the most well-known Belgian writer and poet, Georges Rodenbach’s tombstone, however, is worth remembering. In a somewhat eerie way, the stone has been carved away to reveal a bronze figure breaking out of the top of the grave. Perhaps it was a sign he wasn’t ready to go just quite yet? Either way, it’s an eye-catching grave – and one you won’t forget in a hurry Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde, the Irish writer and poet, broke down and challenged many cultural and societal norms in the early 1900s through his works and lifestyle. His grave in Père Lachaise is one of the most iconic and most popular. Today you will see it covered in a rainbow of kisses where people pay their respects, however, when the tomb was originally laid it was defaced in protest of Wilde and his 'errant' ways. Jim Morrison Lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison’s tomb is plain and simple (like many other celebrated singers – that’s not to say they aren’t as important). Originally, when Morrison died of an overdose, he was buried in Père Lachaise in an unmarked grave, however, the temporary markers were stolen time and time again. Later, the cemetery had to employ a guard just to ensure there was no further vandalism! Molière One of France’s most celebrated playwrights, Molière, has a legacy of comic plays to his name, including Dom Juan and The Imaginary Invalid, in which he finally succumbed to the disease which would steal his life from him after years of suffering. Upon his death, he was denied a consecrated burial because of his profession as an actor – meaning he was originally buried alongside unbaptized infants before his remains (if they were his...) were moved to Père Lachaise in 1817. Frédéric Chopin Chopin’s grave is one of the most beautiful and symbolic of those in Père Lachaise. Atop his high marble tomb sits a weeping Euterpe holding a broken lyre. It’s one of the most emotive graves as it serves as a memory to Chopin’s huge talent as a solo pianist and musician. To this day Chopin is played across the globe, and although his tomb lies in Paris, it’s said his heart was removed and brought back to his native Poland where his soul could lay to rest. Abelard and Heloise One of the greatest love stories of all ages is that of Abelard and Heloise. The pair have gone down in history as being bound by an inextricable love despite the trials and tribulations they both faced. Abelard was one of the great French philosophers and was hired to educate young, rich and noble Heloise. As you can guess, the two had an affair and consequently were separated. They both suffered for it but didn’t let their love for each other die, writing love letters until they died. They were buried together in 1817 under the tomb at Père Lachaise, bones entwined... Awww. Gioacchino Rossini A statement tomb of huge wrought iron doors with a stone surround, it’s as if you’re walking up to the front door of the dead composer rather than to his grave. It would be even more eerie if it weren’t for the fresh flowers that decorate its wrought iron bars. Rossini was an established and very talented composer who lived from 1792 – 1862 and composed much loved operas such as the Barber of Seville. Ironically, Rossini’s grave is empty as his remains were transferred to Italy. Édith Piaf Although not one of the most impressive tombs in terms of stature or design, this chanteause’s grave is one of the most visited in the cemetery. This much loved national diva was even buried in the same grave as her father. Her song Non, je ne regrette rien has been played worldwide and it is one of the most widely associated songs to her homeland. You’ll always see fresh flowers adorning her marble tomb, no matter the time of year. Honoré de Balzac This 19th century novelist and playwright is worth noting – not only for his body of works which he left behind, but for his bronze bust which stands on the top of his podium. It’s well worth a visit if you’re a fan of La Comédie humaine and the life and history of Napoleon. Struggling with his own real life troubles and struggles, Balzac drew from his personal experiences to create an impressive legacy much loved today. Félix Faure This ex-president of France has a slightly tainted name with links to the Dreyfus affair and various tales of political scandal – including the hushed way in which he actually died... Needless to say he was awarded a substantial tomb at Père Lachaise, albeit if there are various ways of interpreting just what his grave actually symbolises...

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