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  • Voyage

    Visiting the dead really makes you feel alive

    By Frances Atkinson 19 October 2015

    ONE of the most romantic, moving and profound experiences you can have in Paris will also make you feel more alive than ever. At Pere Lachaise Cemetery you’ll find yourself surrounded by the world’s greatest thinkers, writers and legendary bohemians of our time. Yes, they are all dearly departed, but there is an undeniable atmosphere that comes with strolling around the city’s largest cemetery.

    Located in the 20th arrondissement, Pere Lachaise is spectacularly lush. Set on 110 hectares, it is the final resting place of the famous and infamous, and of humble Parisians. The first person to be buried there was a little girl called Adelaide in 1804; today she is surrounded by icons including Marcel Proust, Colette, Chopin, Moliere, Jim Morrison and Maria Callas.

    Tombs and headstones range from the unadorned to the spectacular. A must-see includes Oscar Wilde’s (1854-1900) magnificent tomb made by sculptor Jacob Epstein. Until 2011, dedicated visitors covered the stonework in countless rouge kisses, but now a glass panel prevents such ardent displays. Oscar, no doubt, would have had something acerbic to say about that.

    More sedate, and exuding a sombre elegance, is the resting place of Marcel Proust (1871-1922), one of the most influential writers of the modern age. The sleek, polished marble is adorned with a single urn and handfuls of chestnuts and small stones left behind by his devotees.

    Pere Lachaise Cemetery
    16 Rue du Repos, 75020, Paris