The City of the Dead in the City of Lights
Updated: Jan 27, 2019
There is a never-ending list of magical places to see and treasured things to do in the world's most romantic city, and everyone will tell you what you cannot miss, especially if they've been there once or twice and they are certain of all the best spots.
Moxie has strolled the old winding streets of the City of Lights many times, and every time she goes, there are a few places that she goes back to, time and again. One of those is the massive, peaceful, beautiful city of the dead, the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Within the high walls surrounding this eternal garden, one will find towering grandfather trees reaching to the heavens and arching over paths, benches of solitude for rest and thoughtful pondering, and paths and roads that twist and turn in every direction to such an extent that there is no map that will truly get you around the haven of the dead, no matter what that fellow at the gate tells you when he sells you a map for 1 euro.
What's so special about this sacred ground that is etched through and through with traces of time worn like a grand faded gown? It's partly the stunning view of the city of Paris stretched out below it. It is also the ability to step away from the noise, pollution, hustle and bustle and rush of the streets around it. Most of all it is who you'll find there, for in this place, in this temple of time, you will come face to grave with some of the most famous and cherished people who have ever lived on the earth.
Moxie always goes to the grave of Edith Piaf, where fresh roses are laid on the marble over her, and where people will softly and lovingly sing La Vie En Rose to her. Renowned writer Gertrude Stein's resting place is not far from Edith, and she shares her grave head to head with her lover and partner Alice B. Toklas, from whom pot brownies originated, as well as the phrase 'taking a toke'.
You may want to visit Georges Bizet, the French composer, or Jean de Brunhoff who wrote Babar the elephant. Perhaps Balzac, George Bizet, what's left of the great opera singer Maria Callas' grave, Jean-François Champollion who discovered and deciphered the Rosetta stone and who is the father of Egyptology, Frédéric Chopin, Colette, Georges Méliès the first film maker who did 'A trip to the moon', Charles Messier the astronomer who discovered and catalogued all the Messier Objects in the heavens, Amedeo Modigliani, Molière, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Proust, what's left of Gioachino Rossini's grave, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Oscar Wilde (and Moxie has left kisses on his grave and on the plexiglass that now surrounds his grave), Henri Matisse, and Charlie Chaplin. There are many more names and burial sites in Pere Lachaise, but these are only a few of the most notable. For much of the list, you can search Google, though Moxie has yet to find a full and accurate list online. To stroll along among the streets of this city of the dead, among the last vestiges of some of the most renowned people who ever existed in this world, is unlike any other experience you'll have in the City of Light. Paris is so well known for its liveliness and exuberance, but there is much more to the city than that, and the Pere Lachaise Cemetery is one of the crown jewels of Paris, hidden quietly away beneath the trees and behind a stone wall, where a free walk among giants who made this world what it is today, is waiting like a secret treasure.