At the peak of one of the seven hills of Paris, in Middle Ages, used to rise cultivated fields (vegetable, cereals, vineyards), and this domain was called “Champ l’Evêque”.
Around 1430, Régnault de Wandonne, a wealthy spices trader, bought the domain and built a folly: it became the Folie Régnault.
It’s from the XVIIth century that comes the origin of the name of the cemetery : a rest home for Jesuits has been installed on this country-style mount, and among this community there was father François d’Aix de la Chaise, Louis XIV’s confessor…
In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte chose the place to install a modern and ideal necropolis, in order to compensate successive closings of old, overloaded unsanitary cemeteries: it’s the first lay and modern cemetery of Paris. The architect drew an English park, which became the largest green way and aviary of Paris. The Eastern cemetery, so snubbed at its beginnings, turned into a real place of worship.
Walking in the Père Lachaise is a lovely ramble through the alleys, mixing souvenirs of famous defuncts and meetings with the regular visitors: elderly ladies, cats, lovers, funerary art lovers…
From Chopin to Jim Morrison, Molière and Jean de la Fontaine, Héloïse and Abélard or Victor Noir, this is the Père Lachaise: very often famed persons got very humble tombs, and persons yearned for fame got their fame with sumptuous, even disproportionate graves.
Photo credits : Emilie Robaldo