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French Culture

The Monuments of Paris — Père Lachaise Cemetery

By Christopher Measom on March 5, 2013
Christopher Measom

It is doubly appropriate that we end our e-tour of Paris’s monuments with a monument of monuments—one that is literally the end of the line for many!

1 – A Cemetery Too Close to the Paris Food Market

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In the 1780s the rotting corpses buried for centuries in central Paris—especially at le Cimetière des Saints Innocents, directly adjacent to Les Halles, the central food market of Paris —finally became too much (the muck, the stench), which prompted the government to ban any further burials within city limits.

Twenty years later, Père Lachaise—now one of the most visited sites in Paris—opened for business.

2 – Le Père Lachaise – An Unpopular Cemetery at First

But because it was so far out of town back then (in nowheresville), no one wanted to be buried there.

A clever marketing campaign that included moving Molière’s body and those of two medieval star-crossed lovers (Pierre Abélard and Héloïse), however, helped its popularity.

Today the cemetery, containing over 200 years of fabled Parisians is the only real museum in the 20th arrondissement—and a beautiful outdoor one at that.

 

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More articles in this series:

The Monuments of Paris — L’Arc de Triomphe
The Monuments of Paris — L’Avenue des Champs-Elysées
The Monuments of Paris — L’Obélisque de Luxor
The Monuments of Paris — La Madeleine
The Monuments of Paris — L’Opéra
The Monuments of Paris — Le Moulin Rouge
The Monuments of Paris — Le Sacré-Coeur
The Monuments of Paris — Le Louvre
The Monuments of Paris — Notre Dame
The Monuments of Paris — La Tour Eiffel
The Monuments of Paris — Père Lachaise Cemetery

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