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The Final Resting Place of the Rich and Famous

April 6, 2011
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What do French singer Edith Piaf, Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, American rocker Jim Morrison and Irish playwright Oscar Wilde have in common? They are all buried at Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris and probably one of the most famous in the world.

Located in the 20th arrondissement, the Père-Lachaise Cemetery is reputed to be the most visited cemetery in the world, attracting nearly 2 million visitors a year to the graves of acclaimed writers, artists, musicians, politicians and philosophers, including Marcel Proust, Guillaume Apollinaire, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Sarah Bernhardt, Honoré de Balzac and many others.It is also the location of five Great War memorials.

The cemetery was named after the Reverend Father François de Lachaise d’Aix , a jesuit who was the confessor of King Louis XIV from 1689 until the king death in 1709. It was established by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, whereas cemeteries had been banned inside Paris as they presented health hazards. At the time the cemetery opened, it was seen as too far from the city and attracted very few funerals but after the transfer of the remains of La Fontaine and Molière, in 1804, the Père Lachaise rapidly grew in popularity. Within a few years, the cemetery went from a few dozen permanent residents to more than 33,000 and today, there are over 300,000 bodies buried there making the cemetery the most prestigious address in the city.

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