Catching Up With Greatness: Pere Lachaise Cemetery

When visiting Paris, there definitely won’t be a shortage of things for you to see and do.  From the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame and the Louvre, the City of Lights offers seemingly innumerable attractions, cathedrals, and museums that every tourist will want to visit.  In addition to the above-named sites, another spot that you simply must check out is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  Pere Lachaise is the final resting place to many of the most important artists and writers in the world.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the people you’ll be able to catch up with.

Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was an Irish writer who lived from 1854-1900.  He is best known for his plays, which include The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and An Ideal Husband.  In his lifetime, Wilde also penned the famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as numerous poems.    

Jean-Francois Champollion
Champollion was an Egyptologist and accomplished linguist who lived during the reign of Napoleon.  He is remembered to this day as the man who cracked the Hieroglyphic code found on the Rosetta Stone, which essentially enabled scholars around the world to gain insight into the lives of the ancient Egyptians.

Frederic Chopin
Chopin was an early 19th-century Polish composer who is widely renowned for his piano concertos.  Some of his most famous works include the Revolutionary Etude, Les Adieux, and the 24 Etudes, Op.28.  An interesting anecdote concerning Chopin is that following his death in Paris, his heart was brought back to his native Poland by his sister and placed inside an urn in a church pillar.      

Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison was the lead singer for the American rock band The Doors.  Although The Doors are still admired today, they reached the pinnacle of their popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Their biggest hits include Light My Fire, Break on Through, People Are Strange, and L.A. Woman.  Morrison’s grave is one of the most visited sites in Pere Lachaise and is often vandalized by overzealous fans.  As a result, you’ll most likely see a security guard standing a few feet away from the headstone during visiting hours.

Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer of the early 20th-century who was part of the Lost Generation — a group of mostly U.S. expatriates who took up residence in France.  Other members of the Lost Generation included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Sherwood Anderson.  Stein is also credited with “discovering” the talents of Pablo Picasso.  Stein is buried at Pere Lachaise with her companion Alice B. Toklas.

Other graves of interest include:  Moliere (French playwright), Honore de Balzac (French author), Maria Callas (opera singer), Eugene Delacroix (French Painter), Isadora Duncan (American dancer), Marcel Proust (French author), and Georges Bizet (French composer).

As you can see, there are certainly enough famous people at rest within the grounds of the Pere Lachaise cemetery to make a visit there worth your time.  You can purchase a map listing the most popular gravesites at the subway station outside the cemetery.

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