See Oscar Wilde’s tomb, visit the flamboyant burial site of Molière and pay your respects at the three World War I memorials.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is a vast and prestigious graveyard with several war memorials and notable burial sites. Its 108 acres (44 hectares) of grounds serve as the final resting place of some of the most legendary names in history, from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison. Walk through the pretty floral gardens and inspect the range of graves, from lavish and elaborate mini-chapels to simple headstones.
The highlight of the cemetery is the tomb of Irish writer Oscar Wilde, who left England for Paris to avoid the shame of his conviction for “gross indecency.” Read his poem about mourning inscribed on the grave alongside a naked angel. Until 2011, visitors had a strange custom of applying lipstick and kissing the tomb. Now look at the messages written in lipstick on the glass barrier protecting the tomb.
As you stroll down the paths, admire the layout of this shrine that has been turned into an English park. See all types of designs in the tombs, including Gothic graves, Haussmanian plots and mausoleums. Inspect the impressive tombs to find the names of the rich and famous, such as Frédéric Chopin and Édith Piaf.
Discover the three World War I memorials in this large plot of land. See the eerie Memorial to the Dead and its many naked angels.
The cemetery has an enormous waiting list for graves, in addition to strict rules stating those hoping to be buried here must have lived or died in Paris. Note that certain tombs contain entire families with dozens of bodies, as space is at a premium. The site is named after the confessor of King Louis XIV. It dates back to 1804, after Napoleon declared that everyone has the right to be buried, regardless of religion or race.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is in the 20th arrondissement, 2 miles (3 kilometers) east of Paris’ city center. Take Line 2 of the metro to the Philippe Auguste station beside the main entrance to the cemetery. The Père Lachaise and Gambetta metro stops are also nearby.