When we first traveled to Paris, we went for a walking tour at Pere-LaChaise to find the resting place of my favorite composer, Frederic Chopin. Here, in the 110-acre historical cemetery, Chopin is in the company of many of the world’s greatest names in the arts, sciences, literature and history. Here’s just a few to mention: Francois Poulenc, Heloise and Abelard, Camille Pissaro, Cherubini, Breguet (yes the watch guy), Lalique (the glass guy), Michel Petrucciani, Auguste Comte, Champollion, Samuel Hahnemann, Gustave Dore, Jim Morrison, Moliere, La Fontaine, Murat, Antoine Parmentier, Sarah Bernhardt, Balzac, Delacroix, Merleau-Ponty, Georges Melies, Edith Piaf, Bizet, Marcel Proust, Apollinaire, Isadora Duncan, Stephane Grappelli, Richard Wright, Auguste Blanqui, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Modigliani, Colette, Oscar Wilde.
Opened in 1804 on the site of a former Jesuit retreat, Pere-Lachaise is one of the world’s largest and most famous garden cemeteries today, consisting tens of thousands of monuments. The official record stated more than a million and a half people come to Pere-Lachaise each year; however, we were in the company of just a few tourists in an early spring day – a great escape from the crowded tourist attractions.
When we strolled around the Pere-Lachaise, we found wonderful shapes, carvings and chapels reflecting the character and sometimes, the profession of the buried. For example, a carved easel for a painter; and a stone quill set for a writer.
You will also discover some of the most powerful and poignant memorials to the tens of thousands of French Jews deported to Nazi death camps, virtually all of whom perished.