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Père-Lachaise cemetery

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Père-Lachaise cemetery, final resting place of numerous notables, is an atmospheric, eerily beautiful haven, with little cobbled footpaths, terraced slopes and magnificent old trees which spread their branches over the tombs as though shading them from the outside world. The cemetery was opened in 1804, after an urgent stop had been put to further burials in the overflowing city cemeteries and churchyards. The civil authorities had Molière, La Fontaine, Abelard and Héloïse reburied here, and to be interred in Père-Lachaise quickly acquired cachet. A free map of the cemetery is available at all the entrances or you can buy a more detailed one at the Père-Lachaise shop at 45 boulevard de Ménilmontant. Among the most visited graves is that of Chopin (Division 11), often attended by Poles bearing red-and-white wreaths and flowers. Fans also flock to the ex-Doors lead singer Jim Morrison (Division 6), who died in Paris at the age of 27, and to Oscar Wilde’s tomb (Division 89), which is topped with a sculpture by Jacob Epstein of a mysterious Pharaonic winged messenger. You can also visit the graves of Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Corot, Balzac and Modigliani. In Division 97 are the memorials to the victims of the Nazi concentration camps and executed Resistance fighters. Marking one of the bloodiest episodes in French history is the Mur des Fédérés (Division 76), the wall where the last troops of the Paris Commune were lined up and shot in the final days of the battle in 1871.

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