Archive for the Père Lachaise Cemetery Category

Honoré de Balzac

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on April 2, 2014 by Cade

balzac1May 20, 1799 – August 18, 1850

A noted pioneer of the Realist movement in European literature, Honoré de Balzac was a highly influential novelist and playwright. Balzac’s work was known for its flawed characters and minute detail that outlined life in his native France (specifically, Paris) in the time after Napoleon. The energy that drove his characters and stories wasn’t just creation. The man, himself, lived life at a torrid pace. Many of his finished novels and plays are the result of meticulous – borderline obsessive – revision and gallons upon gallons of coffee. In the end, he created a body of work that directly inspired titanic writers like Proust, Dickens, Dostoyevsky and Faulkner. Later in life, Balzac married a woman who had written him an anonymous critical letter. He sought her out, began a relationship and the two were eventually married. Five months into the marriage, Balzac died suddenly at the age of 51. His funeral was attended by “every writer in Paris” and he was eulogized by friend and contemporary, Victor Hugo.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE

Specific Location

Division 48, #1; Along the northwest side of Chemin C. Delavigne.



Georges Seurat

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on December 17, 2013 by Cade

seurat1December 2, 1859 – March 29, 1891

The father of the post-impressionist movement known as “pointilism”, Georges-Pierre Seurat is one of the most recognizable French impressionist painters. His masterworks like A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886) and Bathers at Asnières (1883) stand as monuments to the late 19th century French collection as much as any Monet or Cézanne piece. His direct impact on the world of art was confined to a mere 31 years. Seurat died at that age of undisclosed causes in Paris. His legacy lives well beyond his brief life, though. His artwork is central to post-impressionist collections around the world. His influence still can be seen today. Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical based on La Grand Jatte and Seurat’s obsession with creating it. Not bad for a guys who only spent roughly 15 years creating some of the world’s most important art.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE


Specific Location

Division 66; On the south side of Avenue des Peupliers just northwest of its intersection with Chemin d’Ornano; the small Seurat family mausoleum is right behind a tree.


Oscar Wilde

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on October 26, 2013 by Cade

wilde1October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900

Ever hear the term “The Gay Nineties”? Well, the British counterpart to the American decade of decadence at the end of the 19th century was deemed the “Naughty Nineties.”

Enter Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish-born (you don’t say?) writer who was known for his wit and flamboyant personality. His literary masterworks include his lone novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest. But enough of the boring stuff…Wilde spent the first half of the so-called “Naughty Nineties” in London embroiled in an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. A fact the Douglas family was none too thrilled about. Wilde was publicly outed – practicing homosexuality was illegal at the time – and sentenced to 2 years of hard labor in prison. Prison life vastly disagreed with Wilde’s sense of aesthetics and art and all things opulent and his health rapidly declined. Upon his release, he fled to France where he lived out the rest of his brief life in exile. Ever witty, it was long rumored that his last words on his deathbed were “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has to go,” although it has been disputed whether it was his actual final utterance or not (the quote most certainly was said, just not right before he died.) Either way, the wallpaper won. Oscar Wilde died of cerebral meningitis at the age of 46.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE


Specific Location

Division 89; Along the north side of Avenue Carette, Oscar’s large, graffiti-covered tomb is unmistakable.

UPDATE: …and now, apparently, behind some sort of Plexiglas shield. No fun, Père Lachaise, no fun at all.


Édith Piaf

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , on June 13, 2013 by Cade


December 19, 1915 – October 11, 1963

“Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.” – Édith Piaf

Édith Giovanna Gassion was raised in a brothel in Normandy, France. Things got better from there…slowly.  She joined her father as a street peformer at the age of 14 and began singing for money on the outskirts of Paris. She fell in love, continued to sing on the streets and had a daughter. She was a terrible mother. Her daughter died at the age of 2 in the hotel where they were living.  It gets better, it really does. At the age of 19, Édith was discovered by a Paris nightclub owner and began singing “professionally” in said nightclub.  The owner, of course, was promptly murdered, but not before Édith was able to record a couple of songs and begin making decisions for herself. Under new management, she began performing as Édith Piaf (piaf means “sparrow” in case you were wondering) and eventually went on to become one of France’s greatest performers.  She was romantically involved with actor Yves Montand, boxer Marcel Cerdan (who died in a plane crash, naturally) and just about everybody else that she ever met. Her life was not a joyride, but she made the best of it. That is, until the liver cancer caught up with her. Her hits included “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” “Hymne à l’amour” and, what would become an unofficial Parisian anthem, “La Vie en Rose.” The latter of which is also the name of a really great movie about her life.  Check it out.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE

Specific Location

Division 97; The easternmost section in the cemetery, Édith’s grave is just on the east side of Ave. Transversale No.3 roughly halfway between Ave. Patchold and Ave. Circulaire.


Jim Morrison

Posted in Père Lachaise Cemetery with tags , , , on March 5, 2013 by Cade


December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971

James Douglas Morrison, AKA “The Lizard King,” was a poet, songwriter and the lead singer of the influential American rock band, The Doors. Energetic, soulful and wild, he set the showmanship standard for many future frontmen.

And he LOOOOVED heroin.

He battled alcohol and drug abuse throughout his rise to fame.  It all caught up with him in a Paris apartment in July of 1971.  Morrison’s cause of death was never officially ruled due to French medical examiner statutes. But, I don’t think it’s much of a mystery.  He was buried in Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. His grave site became one of the most famous in the world. It served as a gathering place for all sorts of folks throughout the years and attracted a myriad of vandalism and debauchery.  Today, a guard stands by to keep the riff-raff from riff-raffing.


Père Lachaise Cemetery – Paris, FRANCE

morrison - oct 04 1999

Specific Location

Division 6; between Chemin Lauriston and Chemin Lesseps; though he’s tucked away behind other, larger monuments, there is almost always someone there, so he’s not that hard to locate.