16 rue du repos
Metro: Père-Lachaise, Philippe-Auguste or Gambetta
phone: +33 1 55 25 82 10
Guide to Art in Père-Lachaise
website: Père-Lachaise sculpture
guidemaps: ENGLISH | French | Spanish | Italian | famous Women | arts | gastronomy | literature | communards
Opened in 1804 on the site of a former Jesuit retreat, Père-Lachaise is today one of the world's most celebrated of cemeteries.
In fact, more than a million and a half people come to Père-Lachaise each year, to walk its nearly 109 acres consisting of tens of thousands of monuments, many of which are dedicated to some of the world's greatest names in the arts, sciences, literature and of course history. Here's just a sample:
First woman aeronaut Sophie Blanchard, dancer Jane Avril, Composer Francois Poulenc, Heloise and Abelard, Impressionist painter Camille Pissaro, composer Luigi Cherubini, Frederic Chopin, Abraham Breguet (yes the watch guy), Rene Lalique (the glass guy), pianist Michel Petrucciani, founder of sociology Auguste Comte, Jean Francois Champollion, founder of homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann, Gustave Dore, American rocker Jim Morrison, photographer Gerda Taro, playwright Moliere, fabulist La Fontaine, Antoine Parmentier, actress Sarah Bernhardt, novelist Honore Balzac, writer Sophie Condorcet, philosopher Claude Saint-Simon, painter Eugene Delacroix, American ballerina Harriet Toby, politician Merleau-Ponty, dancer Cleo Merode, filmmaker Georges Melies, singer Edith Piaf, composer Georges Bizet, writer Marcel Proust, Apollinaire, dancer Isadora Duncan, violinist Stephane Grappelli, American writer Richard Wright, politician Auguste Blanqui, Americans Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Amedeo Modigliani, writer Colette, Oscar Wilde, and so many, many more.
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.
The cemetery can be accessed via one of three metro stops.
- You can take the no. 3 to “Gambetta,” which will allow you to walk downhill in the cemetery. Follow the exit for the cemetery, up the escalator and then up avenue du Pere-Lachaise to the entrance. As you enter you will see the crematorium-columbarium complex straight ahead and a guard shack on your right. If you turn right up about 100 meters or so is a WC.
- You can get off the no. 2 or no. 3 at the "Père-Lachaise" stop and then enter the cemetery at the small entrance directly across from the entrance to the metro.
- Finally, you can get off the no. 2 at the “Philippe Auguste” stop and walk up the short block up Boulevard Menilmontant to Père-Lachaise, which will be on your right.
The official cemetery guide map is not generally available at the guard shacks but can be picked up at the conservation office. Unofficial maps are available for sale at the florist shops and news kiosks directly outside of three main entrances: Porte des Amandiers across from the Metro Père-Lachaise, Porte Principale and Porte Gambetta.
Over the years, I've found the most thorough and exhaustive map is the Metropolitains Edition, which is often available from a vendor just outside the entrance across from the Père-Lachaise metro stop.
There are five entrances to the cemetery, three of them usually manned:
- Porte Principale, boulevard Menilmontant (main)
- Porte des Amandiers, Metro Père-Lachaise, boulevard Menilmontant (unmanned)
- Porte du Repos, rue du Repos (varies)
- Porte de la Reunion, rue de la Reunion (unmanned)
- Porte Gambetta, rue des Rondeaux (manned)
The conservation office is just inside the main entrance off of boulevard de Menilmontant, where you can pick up a copy of the free cemetery guide map. There is also a manned guard shack at the entrance off of rue du Père-Lachaise and rue des Rondeaux, and there is usually a manned guard shack on rue du Repos. There is a crematorium and columbarium in division 87.
After you enter the cemetery at the main entrance directly behind the guard shack on the left and around the corner is a bank of rustic WCs. Beyond the main entrance is the conservation where you will find a WC located on the far side of the building, across from division 7. There are also WCs just inside the entrance off of rue des Rondeaux, the "Gambetta" stop.
Note that the facilities are frequently lacking in amenities so be prepared.
Images provided by Steve Soper. All rights reserved.