Traditionally working class, with a history of radical and revolutionary activity, the gritty eastern districts of Paris, particularly the old villages of Belleville and Ménilmontant, are nowadays among the most diverse and vibrant parts of the city, home to sizeable ethnic populations, as well as students and artists, attracted by the low rents. The main visitor attraction in the area is the Père-Lachaise cemetery, final resting place of many well-known artists and writers. Visiting the modern Parc de Belleville will reveal the area’s other main asset – wonderful views of the city below. Another park well worth seeing is the fairy-tale-like Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.Read More
Père-Lachaise cemetery, final resting place of numerous notables, is an atmospheric, eerily beautiful haven, with little cobbled footpaths, terraced slopes and magnificent old trees which spread their branches over the tombs as though shading them from the outside world. The cemetery was opened in 1804, after an urgent stop had been put to further burials in the overflowing city cemeteries and churchyards. The civil authorities had Molière, La Fontaine, Abelard and Héloïse reburied here, and to be interred in Père-Lachaise quickly acquired cachet. A free map of the cemetery is available at all the entrances or you can buy a more detailed one at the Père-Lachaise shop at 45 boulevard de Ménilmontant. Among the most visited graves is that of Chopin (Division 11), often attended by Poles bearing red-and-white wreaths and flowers. Fans also flock to the ex-Doors lead singer Jim Morrison (Division 6), who died in Paris at the age of 27, and to Oscar Wilde’s tomb (Division 89), which is topped with a sculpture by Jacob Epstein of a mysterious Pharaonic winged messenger. You can also visit the graves of Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Corot, Balzac and Modigliani. In Division 97 are the memorials to the victims of the Nazi concentration camps and executed Resistance fighters. Marking one of the bloodiest episodes in French history is the Mur des Fédérés (Division 76), the wall where the last troops of the Paris Commune were lined up and shot in the final days of the battle in 1871.