Opened in 1804 on the site of a former Jesuit retreat, Pere-Lachaise is today one of the world's largest and most famous cemeteries.
In fact, more than a million and a half people come to Pere-Lachaise each year, to walk its nearly 109 acres consisting of tens of thousands of monuments, many of which are dedicated to some of the world's greatest names in the arts, sciences, literature and of course history. Here's just a sample:
Francois Poulenc, Heloise and Abelard, Camille Pissaro, Cherubini, Chopin, Breguet (yes the watch guy), Lalique (the glass guy), Michel Petrucciani, Auguste Comte, Champollion, Samuel Hahnemann, Gustave Dore, Jim Morrison, Moliere, La Fontaine, Murat, Antoine Parmentier, Sarah Bernhardt, Balzac, Delacroix, Merleau-Ponty, Georges Melies, Edith Piaf, Bizet, Marcel Proust, Apollinaire, Isadora Duncan, Stephane Grappelli, Richard Wright, Auguste Blanqui, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Modigliani, Edith Piaf, Colette, Oscar Wilde.
You will also discover some of the most powerful and poignant memorials to the tens of thousands of French Jews deported to Nazi death camps, virtually all of whom perished.
The cemetery can be accessed via one of three metro stops.
You can take the no. 3 to “Gambetta,” which will allow you to walk downhill in the cemetery. Follow the exit for the cemetery, up the escalator and then up avenue du Pere-Lachaise to the entrance. As you enter you will see the crematorium/columbarium complex straight ahead and a guard shack on your right. If you turn right up about 100 meters or so is a WC.
You can get off the no. 2 or no. 3 at the "Pere-Lachaise" stop and then enter the cemetery at the small entrance directly across from the entrance to the metro.
Finally, you can get off the no. 2 at the “Philippe Auguste” stop and walk up the short block up Boulevard Menilmontant to Pere Lachaise, which will be on your right.
The official cemetery guide map (302K PDF) will download right to your computer.
Guide maps are not generally available at the guard shacks but can be picked up at the conservation office. Unofficial maps are available for sale at the florist shops and news kiosks directly outside of three entrance: Porte des Amandiers across from the Metro Pere-Lachaise, Porte Principale and Porte Gambetta.
Over the years, I've found the most thorough and exhaustive map is the Metropolitains Edition, which is often available from a vendor just outside the entrance across from the Pere-Lachaise metro stop.
The main entrance is located of boulevard Menilmontant. As of this writing there are five entrances to the cemetery: three of them usually manned:
boulevard Menilmontant (main)
boulevard Menilmontant (metro, unmanned)
rue du Repos (varies)
rue de la Reunion (unmanned)
rue des Rondeaux (manned)
The conservation office is just inside the main entrance off of boulevard de Menilmontant, where you can pick up a copy of the free cemetery guide map. There is also a manned guard shack at the entrance off of rue du Pere-Lachaise and rue des Rondeaux, and there is usually a manned guard shack on rue du Repos. There is a crematorium and columbarium in division 87.
After you enter the cemetery at the main entrance directly behind the guard shack on the left and around the corner is a bank of rustic WCs. Beyond the main entrance is the conservation where you will find a WC located on the far side of the building, across from division 7. There are also WCs just inside the entrance off of rue des Rondeaux, the "Gambetta" stop.
Cemetery hours are standardized throughout the city. Visit the Information page.