Chapter 41. Exploring the Arrondissements: The 19me/20me- Belleville and the Père Lachaise Cemetery

Happy Monday everyone! Marc and Murphy and I had some really cool adventures this weekend, and I thought I’d continue my series of the arrondissements (see my first two parts here and here) and tell you all about our adventures in Belleville.

When this Saturday turned out to be sunny and beautiful, Marc and I thought we’d take full advantage of the spring-like weather and go for an adventure outside. One section of the city that we’ve spent very little time in is the North-East, particularly the 19th and 20th arrondissements. This area includes the world famous Père Lachaise cemetery, a place that I’ve seen so many photos of and was itching to go and explore….so we decided to spend our afternoon discovering this amazing place.

The cemetery itself felt enormous, and it is…it covers 110 acres of rather hilly terrain (well, for Paris). The paths are all uneven and cobbled, so navigating around got pretty tiring after a while!

This Cherry Blossom tree was absolutely stunning!

The cemetery was established by Napoleon in 1804, and actually upon its opening it wasn’t  very popular at all….it was considered too far from the city and didn’t get much interest. In order to drum up some excitement, those in charge adopted a very interesting strategy- they acquired the remains of Jean de la Fointaine and Moilère and moved them to the cemetery. All of a sudden the popularity exploded; everyone wanted to be buried among the celebrities of the time! Now there is a wide variety of famous generals, rock stars, poets, painters, writers and more who all share this final resting place. It contains the tombs of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Moilere, Vincent Musset, Édith Piaf, Camille Pissarro- and those are just a few of hundreds of notable names.

During our wander we got to see by the tombs of Musset and Jim Morrison, but we didn’t pass by any other ‘celebrities’. Honestly, as interesting as it would be to see the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, I preferred wandering through the quieter sections and enjoying the spectacular beauty of the place. It seems so random and disorganized, with recent graves sitting right next to ones that are hundreds of years old, and every tomb seemed to have it’s own distinctive style. Many of them were little booths, containing enough room for a mourner to enter and sit on a little bench. I’d never really seen anything like them before- VERY different from the modern style of graveyard!

After spending about an hour wandering in the Cemetery, we decided it was time to leave and head out in search of coffee. We had heard that Belleville Brûlerie was a must-see….they are an independent coffee roaster that provides beans for many of our favourite coffee shops. We went to their storefront and were able to taste a few of their products before walking out with some delicious new beans for home. It was a really cool little place- they do coffee tasting workshops on most Saturdays- we will have to go back and try one out sometime!

We were feeling a little thirsty after the coffee…so the natural next step was to find somewhere to grab a beer. We’ve been relying a lot on Google these days- we use the ‘explore nearby’ function every time we are searching for something to eat or drink in a new neighbourhood….and happily it worked out amazingly again! We discovered a bar around the corner that also doubled as a record store and was blasting Johnny Cash on Vinyl. So basically, paradise! It was called Le Pouple (the octopus) and I loved everything about it.

Honestly, we didn’t spend too much time exploring Belleville; after our drinks we went straight to the Metro and then directly home….but what we saw looked really exciting and interesting. It’s a very multicultural area and so different from the huge, Haussman boulevards that people imagine when they think of Paris. I’m looking forward to spending more time there!

Next up: my 10 pictures from this weekend. I haven’t forgotten, it’s just that we had a very busy Sunday (AND we lost an hour….one less hour to blog!) so I am running a little late.

Until then,




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