Paris’s cemeteries are some of the nicest places for nature walks and seasonal photography. There is quite a bit of life — alla natura — in a place so void of the living. The various species of trees and plants is always so surprising. A much welcomed refresher for any city rat.
Père Lachaise is the oldest and largest cemetery of Paris (opened in 1804), and it is a place I have only been to once before (on Halloween day while visiting Paris for the first time as an adult back in 2011!). Since this year is the first year, since living in the French capital, that I’m not bogged down with either a crazy outdoor job or a big move, I finally got the chance to come back here during the glory of autumn. Considering the fact that it was Veteran’s Day/Armistice weekend, and that this cemetery has three WW1 memorials — combined that it was also just recently Toussaint and Halloween — I figured this was the best time to return!
- From the archive: All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) in Haute-Savoie
Okay, so this place is HUGE! I walked all the way up to the top part, which I didn’t do last time. Père Lachaise is on a hill, and it provides a stunning sunset view (which we didn’t plan!). There are so many great photo opportunities, and the graves themselves (as well as many scultpures/funurary art) are very interesting. There are 70,000 tombs here.
Some famous people buried here include Edith Piaf, Guillaume Apollinaire, Félix Faure, Marcel Proust, Honoré de Balzac, Chopin, Colette, Eugène Delacroix, Raymond Radiguet, Maria Callas, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison (most visited). It is thu no surprise that this is Paris’s most visited cemetery! I’ll have to look for particular people next time. This time, I jut wanted to forest bath in a cemetery containing more than 5,000 trees!
As we walked up a stone staircase covered in fall leaves, we started to discover a very particular sunset!
Sandwiched between the cityscape and a large cloud, a stunning orange sunset appeared! In the middle you can see the Panthéon, and to the right, the obnoxious Montparnasse tower (trying to poke Ms. Cloud).
After watching the sunset view while sitting on a graciously-positioned bench, we continued all the way north of the cemetery. For the first time of my life, I found myself walking with the sun directly on my back, through the trees, perfectly lined up! I turned around and took these photos.
In a place that you would assume to be filled with darkness, there is so much light. People lay here to rest — and nature shines. I experienced this gift of nature with immense gratitude — and thus I am moved to return sooner than later!
And if you visit, do not forget your camera!
Père Lachaise Cemetery
8 Boulevard de Ménilmontant, 75020 Paris
8AM – 5:30PM (9AM on Sundays)