Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

The 1st of November is La Toussaint (All Saints), a bank holiday in France, and the day when French families visit the tombs of their friends and relatives.  Tradition dictates that huge pots of brightly coloured chrysanthemums are left on the tombs and are used to decorate every cemetery in France.  They really are so ugly; a real throw-back to the era of massed bedding plants!  The autumn leaves are just so much more beautiful. Luckily in Père Lachaise it is easy to escape and find quiet corners of what must be one of the most romantic woodlands in Paris.   One of the loveliest things to do is to just wander as the desire takes you and you are sure to stumble upon beautiful statues, ornamental tombs and imposing trees.

Pere Lachaise4

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Mem au morts………………………………………….

Pere Lachaise2………………………………………….

Pere Lachaise3……………………………………………………………………………………..

Père Lachaise1………………………………………….

Oscar Wilde's tomb The tomb of Oscar Wilde

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Famille Gues An Art Nouveau tomb with a roof planted with Iris

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On Saturday, having paid our respects to my charming Frenchman’s father (see About section), we wandered around the cemetery paying our respects to Frederic Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison (whose body was moved back to the USA several years ago).  The golden autumn leaves were fantastic as were the bright red berries of holly, yew and cotoneaster.

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Veiled statue………………………………………….

Yew………………………………………….

Tomb Pere Lachaise………………………………………….

A couple of years ago, by chance, I met the arboriculturist responsible for the 20th arrondissement of Paris in a bar. He told me that one ancient tree is carved with the names of the revolutionaries who fought within the cemetery during the Paris Commune of 1870.  The tree is very old and getting dangerous to passers-by but as a historical memorial it had been filled with concrete to preserve it.  Does anybody know if the tree is still standing?

Cotoneaster lacteusA mausoleum almost hidden behind a Cotoneaster lacteus covered in red fruit.

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Practical Information

Cimitières Père Lachaise, 16 rue du Repos, 75020, Paris.

The nearest métro station is not Père Lachaise but Philippe Auguste on line 2.  Entry is free and you can find opening times here.

There is a nice café-restaurant on the corner of rue du Repos and Bld Menilmontant with a sunny terrace.  There are more nice looking restaurants (though I’ve not tried them) if you walk a little way down rue de la Roquette towards the Square de la Roquette (a review for another day).  Another good plan is to stop in Belleville (also on line 2) for cheap and delicious Vietnamese food.  My favorite “canteen” is Dung Houong, rue Louis Bonnet.

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