Paris is reputed for making an art of almost everything — even death and mourning. It's no surprise, then, that even the city's cemeteries are poetic and inspired places that feel a bit like open-air museums. These historic sites mostly opened in the 18th and 19th centuries and the burial places of countless writers, philosophers, musicians, politicians, and other famous figures are also often very pleasant places to stroll and dream.
In short: Cemeteries don't need to be depressing, and these 4 gorgeous places of rest in the city go a long way in proving it.
Père Lachaise: A Tranquil Haven in Northeast Paris
Number one on our list of Paris's most gorgeous places of rest is Père Lachaise, a tranquil haven located in the distinctly un-touristy northeastern neighborhood of Menilmontant. Its gently rolling hills, thousands of trees in dozens of varieties, and famous graves — Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Jim Morrison are only a few of the notable people buried here — make it a remarkably pleasant place to stroll and think. In fact, this cemetery is so beautiful that it even made our list of the top 10 attractions in Paris.
Montparnasse: Quiet Refuge in the South
Moving to the opposite end of Paris, the Montparnasse cemetery is perhaps less famous than Pere-Lachaise, but it remains one of the cities most beautiful and peaceful places of repose. It also can offer a welcome retreat from the bustling urban atmosphere of Montparnasse, which was famous in the early to mid-20th century for its vibrant modern arts and literary scene. That artistic and cultural legacy is reflected in the cemetery's "residents", who include French poet Charles Baudelaire, philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir, symbolist painter Eugene Carriere, and many others.
- 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 14th arrondissement
- Metro: Edgar Quinet or Montparnasse
Nestled on a hilly mound in the northerly Montmartre district, this unusual cemetery looms beneath a large city bridge and is known as the quirkier major cemetery in the city of lights. Perhaps owing to its proximity to a neighborhood known for its idiosyncratic artists, or perhaps because a colony of feral cats is famous for having taken over the cemetery, this is a comparably smaller and more humble place of rest when compared to Pere-Lachaise or Montparnasse. French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas, Gustave Moreau and filmmaker François Truffaut are all buried here. Make sure to stop off here on a sunny day during a tour of the area, or come around Halloween or All souls' day for a slightly eerie treat.
- Main entrance at Avenue Rachel, 18th arrondissement
- Metro: Blanche
Passy Cemetery: Gorgeous Grounds and Views of the Eiffel Tower
In this shot of the lovely Passy Cemetery in the city's northeastern corner, you can glimpse the Eiffel Tower from over the graves and trees. Nestled in the chic district also known as Passy, this is the fourth most important historic cemetery in the city but is often overlooked by tourists in spite of the prime views it affords of France's most famous monument. French impressionist painter Edouard Manet and musician Claude Debussy are buried here, among other noteworthy figures of French political and artistic life.
- 2 Rue du Commandant Schloesing, 16th arrondissement
- Metro: Passy