The Definitive Pere Lachaise

Painter Modigliani. Playwright Moliere. Actor Yves Montand. Rock star Jim Morrison. That’s just the “M”s. With hundreds of famous people buried in it, Pere Lachaise is not only the most famous graveyard in the world, but it is also, according to the website City of Immortals, a “magnificent open-air museum of sculpture and architecture spanning more than two centuries of art history.”

pere lachaise - 3The tombstones and mausoleum design, and sometimes unusual statuary, “represent an encyclopedic grouping of many periods, including Gothic, Romanesque, Neoclassical, Italian Renaissance and Art Nouveau next to Egyptian Revival pyramids and obeslisks.”

pere lachaise - 1If, like me, you haven’t visited since the de rigueur junior-year-abroad pilgrimage to Jim Morrison’s accessorized and graffiti-covered grave, it is time to take another look. Thankfully, a passionate American has set her laser focus on these 107 acres of corpses and copses. (It’s almost always an American stepping in where the French haven’t succinctly contextualized a behemoth, n’est-ce pas?) Carolyn Campbell’s well thought-out map measures 17″ x 19″ and features NO SMALL TYPE!

pere lachaise - 2It is indispensible for anyone who wants to truly get their mind around this amazing maze of art and death. The flip side of the map features a capsule history in three languages, precise locations of notable graves and some beautiful photographs. For those who insist on being guided by their phone, fear not. Campbell aims to launch a GPS map app this summer, complete with three tours that she has created. To delve into Pere Lachaise in advance of visiting in person, Campbell’s website is a great place to start.