Somber, gorgeous, peaceful—all of these adjectives and more have been used to describe the wonder that is Père La Chaise—the biggest and the most famous cemetery in Paris. It’s quite surprising that a cemetery, a place that houses the dead, is one of the most popular attraction in the city. However, knowing who was buried there, the sheer size of the cemetery, as well as the near-central location of the place, it’s no wonder that some people come to Paris just to visit this city of the dead.
Père La Chaise has over one million of the residents to this date. The name was derived from Father François d’Aix de La Chaise. The large grave city was cluttered with gravestones and monuments. It may seem like a simple enough activity to do on a fine day in Paris. But knowing some basic things to prepare yourself for the trip is going to enhance your experience in the city of the dead.
Bring a water bottle
The place is huge. If you’re serious to visit the place, you’re going to spend some time in it. Make sure that you stock yourself well with a water bottle. It won’t be a good outing if you ended up having to go outside just because you’re thirsty in the middle of your journey. Having to come back and starting again can take up so much of your time, especially if you have other activities in your itinerary that day.
Set aside a portion of your time
If you’d like to experience Père La Chaise to the fullest, then make sure to actually set aside some time instead of squeezing the experience in the midst of your packed itinerary. Alternatively, you can also visit Père La Chaise several times on different days. You can easily spend 2 to 3 hours or more in the cemetery if you can afford that. Visiting more than once is more than just worth your while.
There is no admission fee for the public unless you opt for a tour with a guide. These visits are called “independent tour”. The opening time for Père La Chaise is different according to the months. From March to October, the cemetery usually closes 30 minutes later. Here is the detailed general schedule for Père La Chaise opening and closing time:
November to middle of March
- Weekday opens from 8 am, and closes at 5.30 pm
- Saturday opens from 8.30 am and closes at 5.30 pm
- Sunday and public holiday opens from 9 am and closes at 5.30 pm
Middle of March to October
- Weekday opens from 8 am and closes at 6 pm
- Saturday opens from 8.30 am and closes at 6 pm
- Sunday and public holiday opens from 9 am and closes at 6 pm
Tours with a Guide
Due to the popularity of Père La Chaise, a guided tour was arranged during the weekends. If you happen to be in Paris in Saturday and Sunday, then this is an opportunity to join people with the tour guide to understand better about the history and some of the people buried in the cemetery.
Take a map with you
The cemetery complex can be difficult and confusing to navigate without a map. This is particularly applicable to those who wish to visit certain famous figures; whether it’s their favorite authors, musicians, etc., it’s better to be prepared and know the general direction to the area. From parisinfo.com, you can take a look at the detailed map at http://www.paris.fr/cimetieres. There are also maps for the “celebrities” buried in Pere La Chaise that you can find by a simple web search.