In eastern Paris there’s a massive cemetery called Père Lachaise, where you can find the tombs of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde… and about a million more people.
It’s the most visited cemetery in the world with 3.5 million people checking it out annually.
After an Earful Tower podcast episode on the cemetery in eastern Paris, I visited the cemetery with author Joe Start to see which graves he recommended.
Here are the top 14 graves – according to Joe – in video form (subscribe for more) followed by more info below.
1. Most Kissed Grave: Oscar Wilde
Yes, people love leaving their lipstick on the glass wall around this Irish writer’s tomb. Perhaps not very hygienic but a sight to see, nonetheless.
2. Biggest Bulge: Victor Noir
Why does this journalist have such a massive bulge in his pantaloons? Who knows, but people sure like to touch it and it’s said to be good luck for those seeking to get pregnant.
3. The Woman Who Died the Most: Sarah Bernhardt
Actress Sarah Bernhardt, a staple feature on the Paris theatre scene 100 years ago, was famed for her dramatic deaths on stage.
4. The Most Hidden Tomb: Modigliani
Good luck finding this one. The gravestone of painter and sculptor Amadeo Modigliani is hidden not too far from Edith Piaf behind a huge bush.
5. The Most Floral Tomb: Edith Piaf
You can bet your last centime that Edith’s grave will always have fresh flowers. The singer, nicknamed “The Little Sparrow”, had a special place in the hearts of many.
6. The Hardest Grave to Find: The tomb of the dragon
The first sculpture placed in the cemetery, but don’t think it will be easy to find. Joe talks at length about this sculpture in the podcast.
7. The Most Crowded Grave: The Carton Family
There are 60 spots underground for this family… with 9 spots still remaining. It’s easily the the grave with the most “residents”.
8. The Most Oversized Grave: Baroness Stroganova
Elizaveta Alexandrovna Stroganova was a Russian aristocrat and has the tomb to match. It is absolutely enormous and stretches several storeys into the air.
9. Best Peekaboo: Georges Rodenbach
This Belgian writer didn’t seem to want to be completely buried, if his tomb is anything to go by. He wins best peekaboo!
10. Busiest Grave: Jim Morrison
Yes, tourists often come to Pere Lachaise for one thing and that’s to visit the grave of the frontman of The Doors, Jim Morrison. Come early to avoid the crowds – or come when it’s busy and simply follow the crowds.
11. Spookiest Grave: The Robertsons
Winged skulls and frightening owls, you’ve been warned. The gravestone for the Robertson family is a spooky grave indeed.
12. Most Heartless Grave: Chopin
Chopin’s heart was buried in Warsaw, separately from his body. That makes musician Frederic Chopin’s grave the most heartless in the cemetery.
13. Longest Running Act: Marcel Marceau
This French mime has been stuck in a box for a very long time… Ok this joke works better if you watch the video.
14. Best Death: Felix Faure
The former French president who died in 1899 while being “serviced” by his mistress, or so the story goes. Not a bad grave either.
15. Best Dressed: Isabelle
A bonus award after we bumped into Isabelle, the best dressed in the cemetery.
Like these videos? Subscribe on YouTube for more. And listen to the recent Earful Tower podcast on the cemetery below.
Meanwhile, more from Joe Start including the Chairfather book here or on ebook here. Joe’s audio tours can be found here and here.
And here’s the video again in case you didn’t watch it the first time:
And here is a nice large map of the Pere Lachaise in case you want to go tomb hunting yourselves.
That’s it! If you like these tips, be sure to check out The Earful Tower’s Guide to Paris.
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