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There are 14 cemeteries in Paris proper, three of them – Pere Lachaise (in the east), Montmartre (in the north) and Montparnasse (in the south) attract millions of visitors every year.
Pere Lachaise cemetery is the city's most prestigious and the most widely-visited cemetery in the world. To date, more than one million people have been buried there, and it is visited by more than 3 million people annually.
Some of the famous graves at Pere Lachaise are Frederic Chopin, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde.
All the cemeteries are open to the public and free of charge to enter. Opening times are 8am to 6pm (5.30pm November to mid-March).
Most people wouldn't include a cemetery on their list of things to do when visiting a new city, but Paris Pere Lachaise is different.
The Pere Lachaise in Paris attracts millions of visitors every year to its graves, which include famous names such as Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin and Marcel Proust.
Some of the most expensive and coveted grave real estate in the world, Pere Lachaise is home to 70,000 graves, including the most famous artists, writers and musicians the world has ever known.
Today you are struck by the fact that many of the rich and famous have some of the most humble graves.
None more than Jim Morrison the American pop star who for English speaking visitors is probably the most familiar name buried there along with Oscar Wilde.
Chopin is the master of the solo piano. His work still dazzles audiences today, and is the bane of anyone learning to play the piano. Chopin grew up in Warsaw but settled in France in later life. It was in Paris that Chopin died, after a long battle with lung disease. His body was buried in Pere Lachaise, though his heart was removed for burial in his homeland.
Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, has a remarkably simple tomb, but it is one of the most popular in the cemetery. After Morrison died in 1971, of a suspected drug overdose in Paris, he was buried in an unmarked grave in Pere Lachaise. When the cemetery placed a simple marker on the site it was stolen.
The same thing happened to a bust of Morrison placed on a simple gravestone. There is now protective railings around the grave. Many visitors leave gifts on Morrison’s grave, but many also write poems or other messages around the gravestone.
Wilde is probably the most famous tomb in Pere Lachaise. Wilde died in France after leaving England to avoid the shame of his conviction for gross indecency
There are also many tours and third parties offering value added tours and fast track access offering something more than the standard admission ticket for which of course you pay a premium. Some of these are further down the page.
The cemetery has four entrances, two of them on Blvd de Menilmontant at the base of the hill connecting Pere Lachaise and Philippe Auguste Metro. You will get a lot more out of your visit if you have a good map of the cemetery with the most famous occupants indicated.
Many of the Paris guidebooks contain a reasonable map and news stands and kiosks in the area sell a detailed map. There are maps posted around the cemetery.
The cemetery is a large place and very hilly. If you want to find some of the famous people that interest you will need to come off the main avenues and use footpaths. Some are challenging if you are not used to such terrain.
Montparnasse Cemetery is to the south of Paris relatively close to the Montparnasse Tower that is such a landmark south of the River Seine. Unlike Pere Lachaise the cemetery is flat.
The Montparnasse Cemetery is just west of Denfert Rochereau RER/Metro station where the Paris catacombs are situated so it's worth taking a short walk to the cemetery after visiting the Paris catacombs.
Otherwise Edgar Quinet or Raspail Metro stations (line 6) are right next to the cemetery which is split into two by a road.
This is a working cemetery like the others, around 1,000 new burials every year, as old abandoned tombs are emptied and used again.
Perhaps the famous people here are not as famous as Pere Lechaise to an international audience, but there are still some gems if you look.
One example is Serge Gainsbourg, the singer and poet, his slab covered with flowers and Metro tickets left by fans in reference to one of his best-known songs.
Montmartre Cemetery is to the north of Paris some way west from the Montmartre tourist area of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica and Place du Tertre on top of the hill, but reasonably close to the Moulin Rouge opposite Blanche Metro.
Just north of the Place de Clichy Metro or Blanche metro stations (line 2) on a former quarry, this is a very shady cemetery, a nice sanctuary from the bustle and noise of the city all around.
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