Père Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise; officially, cimetière de l'Est, "East Cemetery") is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France at (48 ha, 118.6 acres), though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs.
Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it is reputed to be the world's most-visited cemetery, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years. It is also the site of three World War I memorials.
Père Lachaise is located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant. Métro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 is next to the main entrance, while the station called Père Lachaise, on line 3, is 500 metres away near a side entrance. (Many tourists are reported to prefer the Gambetta station on line 3 as it allows them to enter near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill to visit the rest of the cemetery.)
The cemetery takes its name from Père François de la Chaise (1624-1709), confessor to Louis XIV, who lived in the Jesuit house rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel. The property, situated on the hillside from which the king, during the Fronde, watched skirmishing between the Condé and Turenne, was bought by the city in 1804, laid out by Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, and later extended.
The cemetery was established by Napoleon I in 1804. Cemeteries had been banned inside Paris in 1786, after the closure of the Cimetière des Innocents on the fringe of Les Halles food market, on the grounds that it presented a health hazard. (This same health hazard also led to the creation of the famous Parisian catacombs in the south of the city.) Several new cemeteries replaced the Parisian ones, outside the precincts of the capital: Montmartre Cemetery in the north, Père Lachaise in the east, and Montparnasse Cemetery in the south. At the heart of the city, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, is Passy Cemetery.
At the time of its opening, the cemetery was considered to be situated too far from the city and attracted few funerals. Consequently, the administrators devised a marketing strategy and with great fanfare organised the transfer of the remains of La Fontaine and Molière, in 1804. Then, in another great spectacle in 1817, the purported remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse were also transferred to the cemetery with their monument's canopy made from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine (by tradition, lovers or lovelorn singles leave letters at the crypt in tribute to the couple or in hope of finding true love) (see disputation).
This strategy achieved its desired effect when people began clamouring to be buried among the famous citizens. Records show that, within a few years, Père Lachaise went from containing a few dozen permanent residents to more than 33,000. Today there are over 300,000 bodies buried there, and many more in the columbarium, which holds the remains of those who had requested cremation.
The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) is also located in the cemetery. This is the site where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville, were shot on 28 May, 1871 — the last day of the "Bloody Week" (Semaine Sanglante) in which the Paris Commune was crushed.
After that week, the cementary gained a special importance to the political left in France, manifested in annual processions sometimes drawing tens or even or hundreds of thousands of participants (some 600,000 in 1936) and led by the main leaders of the left parties and organizations. Various prominent left-wing leaders are buried in the vicinity, where a monument was also erected honouring the French Brigadists (volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War).
Burials at Père Lachaise
- Adelena Patti — The most famous opera singer of the late 19th century.
- Jehan Alain — French composer and organist.
- Karel Appel — Dutch painter.
- Miguel Ángel Asturias — Guatemalan diplomat and author, Nobel Prize in Literature 1967
- Jean-Pierre Aumont — actor, father of Tina Aumont and husband of Maria Montez.
- Honoré de Balzac — great French novelist of the 19th century.
- Judah P. Benjamin — 19th-century American lawyer who served in the governments of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America before fleeing to England after the end of the American Civil War, qualifying as a barrister and later Queen's Counsel, dying in Paris.
- Claude Bernard — Famous French physiologist, known for several advances in medicine, as the introduction of the scientific method to the study of medicine, and the study of the sympathetic nervous system.
- Sarah Bernhardt — famous French stage and film actress.
- Georges Bizet — French composer and conductor.
- Sophie Blanchard — first professional female balloonist and the first woman to die in an aviation accident.
- Rosa Bonheur — famous 19th-century French animal painter.
- Jean de Brunhoff — Author of Babar the Elephant.
- Gustave Caillebotte — French Impressionist painter.
- Maria Callas — The opera singer's ashes were originally buried in the cemetery. After being stolen and later recovered, they were scattered into the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece. The empty urn remains in Père Lachaise.
- Jean-Joseph Carriès — sculptor, ceramist, and miniaturist.
- Jean-François Champollion — decipherer of the hieroglyphs and father of Egyptology.
- Ernest Chausson — French composer.
- Frédéric Chopin — Polish composer. His heart is entombed within a pillar at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, Poland.
- Jean-Baptiste Clément — French painter and activist
- Auguste Comte — French thinker; father of Positivism.
- Benjamin Constant — Swiss-born liberal philosopher
- Nancy Cunard — English poet, writer, anarchist activist.
- Jarosław Dąbrowski — exiled Polish revolutionary Nationalist and last Commander-in-Chief of the Paris Commune of 1871.
- Édouard Daladier — French Radical-Socialist politician of the 1930s, signatory of the Munich Agreement in 1938 and Prime Minister of France at the outbreak of the Second World War.
- Alphonse Daudet — Famous French author who is known for his literary works, such as, "Lettres de mon Moulin".
- Jacques-Louis David — Napoleon's court painter was exiled as a revolutionary after the Bourbons returned to the throne of France. His body was not allowed into the country even in death, so the tomb contains only his heart.
- Louis Nicolas Davout — Napoleon's "Iron Marshal."
- Eugène Delacroix — the great Romantic artist.
- Pierre Desproges — French humorist.
- Gustave Doré — French artist and engraver.
- Antonio Drove — director
- Isadora Duncan — American dancer
- George Enescu — Romanian composer, pianist, violinist and conductor, buried in 1955
- Paul Eluard — French surrealist poet
- Suzanne Flon — actress
- Thierry Fortineau — actor
- Joseph Fourier — French mathematician and physicist
- Théodore Gericault — the Romantic painter, whose major work The Raft of the Medusa is reproduced on his tomb by sculptor Antoine Étex.
- Abdulrahman Ghassemlou — leader of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan
- Zenobe Gramme — Inventor of the Direct Current (DC) Dynamo. There is a statue on the grave of Zenobe sitting and looking at a dynamo rotor.
- Stéphane Grappelli — French jazz violinist and member of the Quintette du Hot Club de France
- Yılmaz Güney — Kurdish Turkish actor and film director
- Samuel Hahnemann — German physician, formal founder of homeopathy.
- Jeanne Hébuterne — French artist and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani.
- Sadegh Hedayat — was Iran's foremost modern writer of prose fiction and short stories.
- Ticky Holgado, actor
- Claude Jade, actress
- Allan Kardec — Born Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail, he was the founder of Spiritism.
- Ahmet Kaya — Kurdish Turkish singer and songwriter
- Clarence John Laughlin — American Surrealist photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. His most famous published work was "Ghosts Along the Mississippi".
- Leo VI Lusignian- last king of Cilician Armenia.
- Pierre Levegh - French racing driver killed in the 1955 Le Mans disaster.
- Nestor Makhno — an anarcho-communist Ukrainian revolutionary
- Marcel Marceau— French Mime Artist
- André Masséna — Napoleonic soldier, marshall of France.
- Georges Méliès— French filmmaker; produced A Trip to the Moon.
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty— French philosopher.
- Charles Messier — French astronomer, publisher of Messier's catalogue.
- Amadeo Modigliani — Italian painter and sculptor. Famous for his intense rivalry with Pablo Picasso.
- Gustave de Molinari — Belgian-born economist associated with French laissez-faire liberal economists.
- Yves Montand — film actor
- Jim Morrison — American singer and songwriter with The Doors, author, and poet. Permanent crowds and occasional vandalism surrounding this tomb have caused tensions with the families of other, less famous, interred individuals. Many other parts of the cemetery have been defaced with arrows purporting to indicate the direction toward "Jim", though even these defacements have in many cases been defaced themselves, resulting in arrows that point in two directions.
- Jean Moulin - leader of the French Resistance during World War II who went missing after his arrest with several other Resistants at Caluire, Lyon in June 1943. Understood to have died on a train not far from Metz station in July that year, ashes 'presumed' to be his were interred at Pere Lachaise after the war and then transferred to the Panthéon in December 1964.
- Joachim Murat - French Napoleonic general.
- Alfred de Musset, French poet, novelist, dramatist; love affair with George Sand is told from his point of view in his autobiographical novel, La Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle
- Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) , a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist.
- Gérard de Nerval — French poet.
- Michel Ney — marshal of the French army who fought in the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars.
- Victor Noir — journalist killed by Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte in a dispute over a duel with Paschal Grousset. The tomb, designed by Jules Dalou is notable for the realistic portrayal of the dead Noir, and for the fact that he appears to be at least partially sexually aroused, his large penis pushing his part-unbuttoned fly open. In consequence, the sculpture has become a fertility symbol. His lips are kissed, the genital area is rubbed and flowers are left in his hat. In 2005 a fence was erected around his tomb to prevent people rubbing said area, as this was damaging the sculpture, but it has subsequently been removed.
- Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione — famous Italian courtesan
- Michel Petrucciani — French Jazz pianist.
- Édith Piaf — famous French singer.
- Camille Pissarro — French Impressionist painter.
- Elvira Popescu — Romanian-born actress
- Marcel Proust — French intellectual, novelist, essayist and critic.
- Gioacchino Rossini — Italian composer. In 1887, Rossini's remains were moved back to Florence, but the crypt that once housed them (now dedicated to his memory) still stands in Perè Lachaise.
- Edmond James de Rothschild — Baron of the Rothschild family.
- Countess Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry — The Salvadoran writer who was married to Comte Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who is the author of The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince).
- Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon — Famous sociologist who founded the "Saint-Simonian" movement
- Gholam Hossein Saedi; Iranian socialist novelist and playwright.
- Jean-Baptiste Say; French economist.
- Georges-Pierre Seurat — French painter of Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, and father of neoimpressionism.
- Simone Signoret — Academy-award winning French actress.
- William Sidney Smith, British admiral of whom Napoleon Bonaparte said, "That man made me miss my destiny".
- Gertrude Stein — American author.
- Gerda Taro — (real name Gerda Pohorylles; 1911 - Spain 1937) was a German war photographer the great love of Robert Capa, also one of the iconographers of the Spanish Civil War. Tomb monument by Alberto Giacometti.
- Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata — aviation pioneer and important Indian businessman.
- Ruben Ter Minasian — Armenian politician and a revolutionary, member of Armenian Revolutionary Federation ARF Tashnag
- Isaac Titsingh — Dutch surgeon, scholar, VOC trader, ambassador to Qing China and Tokugawa Japan
- Alice B. Toklas — American author, partner of Gertrude Stein, Toklas's name and information is etched on the other side of Stein's gravestone in the same sparse style and font. As they were inseparable in life, so too are they in death.
- Rafael Leónidas Trujillo — former dictator of the Dominican Republic.
- Louis Verneuil — French playwright.
- Dominique Vivant, Baron de Denon — French artist, writer, diplomat and archaeologist. Located close to Frederick Chopin's grave.
- Marie, Countess Walewski — Napoleon's mistress, credited for persuading Napoleon to take important pro-Polish decisions during the Napoleonic Wars. Only her heart is entombed here; her other remains were returned to her native Poland.
- Eduard Wiiralt — Estonian artist
- Oscar Wilde — Irish novelist, poet and playwright. By tradition, Wilde's admirers kiss the art-deco monument while wearing lipstick.
- Richard Wright — African-American author, wrote Native Son and other American classics.