A Trip To Père Lachaise Cemetery

Today we decided to chance the rain and make a pilgrimage to Père Lachaise Cemetery to visit the tomb of Oscar Wilde. Located in eastern Paris in the 20th Arrondisement, getting to the cemetery entailed a rather long bus trip across Paris. Upon arrival, we consulted a map, and after some hiking around, we located Oscar Wild’s grave. Compared to the Cimetière de Montmartre, this cemetery is huge…so huge that you could fit the entire town of Tombstone in it and still have room left over (OK, may we exaggerate a bit there…).  Here’s some views that we got:

The tomb with its Sphinx-like figure is a fascinating piece of artwork and was executed by the artist Jacob Epstein and the circumstances of its creation were somewhat controversial, especially since the original designs involved figures with extensive genitalia. For an interesting overview, click HERE. You’ll note that there’s a glass barrier surrounding the lower part of the tomb- that’s to prevent contact with the stone- for many years, there was a tradition of kissing the tombstone while wearing red lipstick. Cleaning the lipstick kisses off actually made the stone more porous and thus, more susceptible to deterioration so in 2011, the glass barrier was installed.

Initially opened in 1804, the cemetery houses a large number of graves of various notable people. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we weren’t able to view them all but we did manage to get this picture of the writer Richard Wright’s tomb, really more of a place where his ashes are interred:

And this one is of Alphonse Bertillon, French criminologist who invented one of the first widely used method, the Bertillon System, of identifying individuals:

It was a very humbling experience visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery and we definitely want to return to view it more in detail.


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