Welcome to the final resting place of several famous and notable people, including many beloved French artists and important historical figures.
In addition to all the well-known people who were buried here, there are also dozens of beautiful gravestones to see throughout the cemetery.
Père Lachaise Cemetery Self-Guided Tour
This tour starts at the Porte Gambetta entrance (directions).
This tour will cover some of the most notable locations and gravesites in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
The route is a little less than 2 kilometers (just over 1 mile), and if you just walk and listen, you’d be done in roughly 60 minutes.
There is also a free audio tour from Rick Steves you can take which provides even more detail about each of these stops.
To start things off, begin at the Porte Gambetta entrance and walk straight ahead until you see the Columbarium on your left.
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Built in 1894, this columbarium features Byzantine Revival architectural design.
The large dome atop this building is made of sandstone, and it includes stained glass windows made by Carl Maumejean.
If you’re wondering what a columbarium is, it’s the location in a cemetery where they house urns and funerary remains of the deceased.
This one contains over 40,000 cases!
This is the location of the first crematorium built in France, and that means it’s also the site of the first cremation in France back on January 30th, 1889.
Despite the practice being made lawful in 1887, it would take until the late 20th century before cremation became a common practice.
Notable figures buried here include film director Max Ophuls and comedian Pierre Dac.
When you’re done here, head back the way you came and turn right at the end of the Columbarium. Pass by Avenue Aguado and continue until you find Avenue Carette.
Turn left and walk about halfway down the path, you’ll find the first gravesite on our tour on your left.
The Gravesite of Oscar Wilde
In life, he was a beloved and well-known poet who would go on to inspire many other artists for generations to come.
His gravesite depicts an angel bearing the weight of a large rock.
Fans of Wilde’s work may find themselves confused about the design of this gravestone, but designer Jacob Epstein was at least somewhat inspired by his poem The Sphinx.
At the time he sculpted this work of art, he was also inspired by Indian and Egyptian art, which explains some of the stylistic choices he made here.
There is glass encasing around the grave to protect it, and you’ll find that sometimes people leave messages to Oscar on this glass.
Other times, visitors will leave flowers and letters in honor of the author.
From here, continue northeast down Avenue Carette and turn right on Avenue Circulaire.
Walk down this path until you reach Avenue Pacthod. You’ll see the next gravesite on your right, just before reaching this Avenue.
The Gravesite of Gertrude Stein
Although it may not seem like much, this small gravestone lined with pebbles is the last resting place of American-born writer Gertrude Stein.
Despite being born in the United States, she spent most of her life in France.
In addition to being a poet, she was also a playwright and an early feminist figure.
As someone who loved modern art, it is perhaps fitting that her grave be represented by straight lines.
She was such a patron of the arts that she amassed quite a collection of Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, and other artists including many cubists.
To reach our next stop, continue walking down Avenue Circulaire until you reach one of the corners of the cemetery and the path begins to turn to the right.
Mur des Fédérés
Located in the northeastern-most corner of the cemetery, this mural was placed at the site where 147 combatants of the Paris Commune were shot and thrown into an open trench.
Also known as the Communard’s Wall, the people now buried here were members of an insurrectionist group that fought against the government.
According to Karl Marx, this two-month period in which they seized power was the only period in French history in which the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was realized.
This monument has since become a symbol of worker’s rights and emancipation.
The French Communist Party, the Grand Orient of France, and trade unions all recognize the victims of this event every May 1st in honor of International Workers’ Day.
The next stop on this tour can be found by continuing down Avenue Circulaire until you reach the next intersection at Avenue Transversale No. 3.
Turn right and continue walking until you reach yet another intersection.
On your right, directly opposite the intersection, you’ll find the next gravesite.
Gravesite of Edith Piaf
Although there are a lot of graves above ground in this location, only one is likely to be surrounded with flowers: that of famed singer Edith Piaf.
Even if you don’t think you know her music, chances are you’ve heard at least one of her songs, and you’ll probably be at least somewhat familiar with La Vie En Rose.
Edith is a symbol of perseverance, as she was plagued with health problems pretty much all her life and would eventually pass away due to Liver Cancer in 1963.
The next gravesite will require you to walk further down Avenue Transversale No. 3.
Once you reach Avenue Greffulhe, turn left and walk to the intersection with Avenue Transversale No. 2. You’ll see the next stop on your left.
Gravesite of Bernard Verlhac/Tignous
While the story of this grave is certainly sad, it’s also an important story to tell.
Bernard Verlhac was perhaps best known under the pseudonym of Tignous.
Verlhac was a French cartoonist for the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
His illustrations were also used in French role-playing games such as Rêve de Dragon.
Sadly, he was taken hostage during the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January of 2015 and murdered as part of a series of terror attacks in Paris at the time.
Mourners leave flowers and artwork at his grave to honor his memory.
To find the next stop, continue walking down Avenue Greffulhe to the west and pass by each of the intersections.
This path eventually turns into Chemin du Bassin.
Shortly after you pass Avenue Transversale No.1, you’ll find our next grave on the right.
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière
Known to many simply as Molière, in life he was a playwright who specialized in satire.
He wrote many popular plays for the time and performed for the king on multiple occasions.
Molière’s father was a servant of the king, which ensured he would have the opportunity to get an excellent education in Paris, which is one of the reasons he was capable of realizing his full potential.
While his death was tragic, it was also quite befitting what he did in life.
Molière had a hemorrhage during the middle of a performance, and despite being advised to stop, he continued in the tradition of the theatre: “the show must go on.”
His grave is raised above the ground on four pillars, and it is kept behind a wrought iron fence.
The next gravesite on this tour will require a bit of a detour, and it might be a little difficult to see at first.
Head down Chemin du Basin and turn left at Avenue de la Chapelle.
Once you reach the roundabout known as Rond Point, go right around the circle until you get to the other side. Our next stop can be found down Avenue Lesseps.
This gravestone can be a bit difficult to spot, but if you look to your right about halfway down Avenue Lesseps, you should be able to spot it.
There is a small fence that keeps visitors from getting too close.
Jim Morrison’s grave is located between a large pillar tombstone and a more traditional gravestone with a cross on top.
Every now and then, visitors will leave flowers and notes at this site.
Morrison was probably best known for his music, as he was the lead singer of the rock band The Doors. Fans sometimes play their favorite tunes while visiting this location.
The reason that this area is closed off is that people used to come to this site and attempt to unearth the grave, or they would leave litter or other items that weren’t very respectful.
These activities might have been fueled by conspiracy theories surrounding his death.
For a short time, his passing was kept a secret from the public, and this led to many people believing he was faking his own death.
Thankfully, most of these activities have ceased and it’s not very common for the gravesite to be disturbed anymore.
To reach the next location on our tour, you’ll need to double back the way you came on Avenue Lesseps and turn left at the Rond Point.
Turn left again just past Avenue Cas Perier.
Turn right again when you reach Avenue Denon and walk about halfway down this path. You’ll see the next stop on your right.
From one famous musician to another, the next gravesite on this tour belongs to none other than Frédéric Chopin, one of the most beloved composers of all time.
Chopin grew up on Bach and Mozart, and a lot of his music was inspired by their work.
He wrote and performed music primarily with the piano, and he developed his talent at a relatively early age.
At the age of 15, he was already playing for the Russian Czar Alexander I.
Chopin was also responsible for developing new techniques for playing the piano, including unique ways to use the pedal and fingering strategies.
His gravesite features a statue of Eugène, the muse of music. He is seen mourning over the grave of Frédéric Chopin.
There is a chance you’ll hear his music before you see his grave, as fans often have some of his works playing while they visit this site.
The next few stops are thankfully much easier to find and all located within close proximity to one another. Continue walking down Avenue Denon and turn right at Avenue Laterale.
Turn left at the first intersection and left once more, heading southwest toward Avenue Principale. As you reach this Avenue, you’ll see the next stop on the right.
Although he was never officially a baron, Georges Eugène Haussmann became well known by this term due to the fact that he was from a wealthy family and he was loyal to Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte III.
In life, he was an urban planner with no experience in the field, which is why a lot of his plans didn’t really work.
Even so, he still managed to have a major impact on urban planning in the 20th century.
It was Haussmann’s idea to create wide, tree-lined streets, which is one of the decisions that made mass transit possible in a big city like Paris.
Georges Eugène Haussmann was also responsible for the creation of a clean drinking water and sewer system, and he was behind the construction of the Palais Garnier Opera House.
While there were some negative aspects to his life, the contributions he made to the city of Paris and the inspiration he provided to other urban planners for decades to come can’t be overstated.
His gravesite is marked with “Familie Haussmann” over the iron door which has turned green with rust over the years.
Our next stop is just a few steps further down Avenue Principale, also on the right-hand side.
While his name might not readily come to mind as easily as Chopin or Morrison, Rossini was arguably just as influential and important of a musician as them.
Gioachino Rossini was a composer who wrote multiple operas, the most famous example being The Barber of Seville.
He was also well known for operas like William Tell and The Thieving Magpie.
Even if these don’t sound immediately familiar, chances are you’ve heard music from each opera at some point in your life.
In total, Rossini managed to create 39 different operas during his career, and many of them were hits with the public.
This is the original burial site of the composer, but his remains were later moved to Basilica di Santa Croce in Toscana, Italy.
The gravesite is inscribed with the name “Rossini” above two red doors, and at times the doors will be lined with flowers or other items.
Keep walking a short distance to find our last stop at the intersection of Avenue Principale and Avenue Circulaire.
This famed French novelist was responsible for writing many notable and popular stories including Cheri, Mitsou, The Ripening, The Vagabond, The Cat and perhaps most notably Gigi.
Although it wouldn’t become as well known as it is today until a few years after her death, Gigi was eventually turned into an Oscar-winning musical in 1958.
While this is arguably one of her more popular works, she was originally known for her Claudine series of novels including Claudine at School, Claudine in Paris, Claudine Married, and more.
Her grave has a small black headstone with her name, and the gravesite itself is made with a different color of rock than the others nearby, so it shouldn’t be difficult to spot.
You may also see flowers placed at her grave, as her work remains quite popular to this day and she has become a very well respected author of her time.