PARIS — Ménilmontant

The 20th Arrondissement of Paris is one of its largest districts. It contains individual homes, neighbourhood restaurants known primarily to the locals, and many patches of greenery. It is also home to numerous associations devoted to the promotion of the arts and there are quite a few theatres here. The main attraction in this area is the Père Lachaise cemetery.

The sights found here are:
Parc de Belleville
Père Lachaise Cemetery

Parc de Belleville

Parc de Belleville
This is the highest park in Paris and it was first opened to the public in 1988. You can get a fantastic view of the city at sunset from the terrace that is at the junction of the park with Rue des Envierges. The park itself is small but it is designed around a series of terraces with zig-zagging walkways weaving through open lawns, groves of trees and flower gardens as well as waterfalls making it a very pleasant place to spend some time. Here you will also find the Maison de l’Air (House of Air) which has exhibits and information about the air quality for the city of Paris and its inhabitants as well as how air affects the life of animals and plants and the history and evolution of air. The House of Air is open every day except Monday and Saturday from 1.30pm to 5.30pm from October to March and during April to September it closes at 6.30pm on Sundays. It charges a small fee of around €2. The Parc de Belleville also has a small vineyard growing vines from Champagne and Bourgogne which is a reminder that in the past this area had vineyards and was farming land. The park opens at 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends and in the summer it is open until 9.30pm but closes around 5.30 to 6pm in the colder months.

Père Lachaisse Cemetery
This is the most famous cemetery in Paris and the most visited. It is a beautiful place to take a stroll in with its rolling hills, many trees and winding paths with street names and elaborate tombs. It is the final resting place of many great people including Chopin, Proust, Colette, Balzac, Delacroix, Molière, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison to name just a few. It became a cemetery in 1804 and is named after the Jesuit Father Lachaise, who was Louis XIV’s confessor and who led the reconstruction of the Jesuit Rest House built here in 1682. The Père Lachaisse Cemetery land covers more than 109 acres with more than 300,000 people buried here. Some of the tombs are ostentatious, some are unsightly and dilapidated but some are really lovely. Stray cats roam and snooze among the monuments.
For more information about the cemetery visit the website at: http://www.pere-lachaise.com/perelachaise.php?lang=en

Traveller's Tip

One of the most romantic and tragic love stories of all time is associated with this cemetery — the story of Abélard and Héloïse. Abélard was a brilliant and controversial philosopher and theologian in the 12th century who was hired as a private tutor to Héloïse who was the niece of Canon Fulbert of Paris. They fell in love, secretly had a son, and married. When Héloïse’s uncle discovered this, he had the unfortunate Abélard castrated and sent Héloïse to a convent. The two rarely saw one another for the rest of their lives but wrote their famous love letters to each other. Héloïse became an abbess and Abélard continued to write and stir up theological controversy until the last two years of his life when he became a monk at the Abbey of Cluny. When Abélard died Héloïse requested that he be buried at her convent and she was buried next to him when she died two years later. They were later moved to the Père Lachaisse Cemetery where they lie next to each other in elaborate tombs.