Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
The last stop for many notables makes an intriguing visit — even a pilgrimage — for fans of the permanent residents, who include author Oscar Wilde, singer Edith Piaf, composer Frédéric Chopin, and rock star Jim Morrison. A stroll through the peaceful lanes encourages reflection.
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The end of the line: the Père Lachaise Cemetery. It offers a stroll through a vast garden of permanent Parisians. The final resting place of many of the city's most notable citizens, its peaceful lanes and paths encourage meandering and contemplation.
Poignant statues remember victims of concentration camps and Nazi resistance heroes. Pebbles on the Jewish tombstones represent prayers.
Many visitors pick up a map and turn the visit into a personal pilgrimage, spending a few moments at the graveside of artists or grand personalities who touched their lives.
Oscar Wilde, the great writer, is also remembered for his daring-at-the-time "homosexual lifestyle." He's mourned by "outcast men," as the inscription reads, and, it seems, by wearers of heavy lipstick.
The famous Parisian singer, Edith Piaf, also attracts fans. Raised in her grandmother's bordello, as a waif-like teenager she sang in the streets for spare change.
Nicknamed "The Little Sparrow," she became the toast of pre-WWII Paris, lifted French spirits during the German occupation, and then captured the joy of postwar Paris. While she certainly had her challenges, Edith Piaf embraced life and sang about having no regrets.
Farther down the way, lies a famous American. The rock star Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, has perhaps the most visited tomb in the cemetery. A Greek inscription reads: "To the spirit" (or demon) "within." Under that, fans leave personal mementos.
Paris was to be Jim Morrison's chance to get healthy and get serious as a writer. But he died in a bathtub at age 27, probably from an overdose.
Another big star for music lovers is Frédéric Chopin. Fresh-cut flowers on his gravestone speak to the emotional staying power of Chopin's music, which still connects souls across the centuries.