In the footsteps of Jim Morrison in Paris


Updated by Vanessa M in July 2023.

Jim Who?

Jim Morrison – Rollingstone

Jim Morrison was an American singer, member of the rock band The Doors. He is known for his very distinctive voice and his wild personality. Remembered as one of the most iconic and influential artists in rock music history. Only that!

Once a student in filmmaking he slowly turned his attention onto the music and started writing his first songs at the age of 22. He was also an important drug consumer and used to practice shamanism as well as using all sorts of spiritual ways that could help him escape reality. Fun fact, it was through a meditation group that Morrison met the three other members of The Doors.

They got together in 1664. Fame came quickly for the band and especially for the lead singer who became a superstar. He used to go on stage with a black leather jacket and skin‐tight vinyl pants. A stage where there was only room for improvisation, wildness, and poetry.

But strangely, it was his death that turned him into the absolute legend that he is today. The singer died at the age of 27, the circumstances of his death are still, to this day, not certain. One thing is for certain though, it is that he spent the last months of his life in Paris.


Why Paris?

Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson – Vanity Fair

In 1971, Jim Morrison was legally pursued by American justice for exhibition following a concert that the star did in Miami where he would have shown himself naked to the public. On that matter, nothing was really ever proven. Back then, America and France did not have an extradition treaty for moral affairs. Morrison’s lawyer told him to pack and leave for France before risking losing his passport.  Jim thinks it is the right time, he feels old and exhausted (he is only 27). He wants to walk in Baudelaire and Rimbaud’s footsteps, to write poetry. His body is in pain since he had an accident at the Château Marmont in Los Angeles trying to jump off a roof and falling dramatically.

Read also; Top 10 fun facts about Jim Morrison

On the 15th of February 1971, Pamela Courson, Jim’s girlfriend arrives in Paris. She settles into the George V hotel. Quickly, she meets up with the count Jean de Breteuil, the one that Americans call the “aristocrat junkie”. It was said that Jean de Breteuil had connexions with a group of chemists from Marseille who offered an excellent quality of heroin. The count is one of the key characters of Jim’s tragic history. This decadent aristocrat, who knew the biggest rock-stars of the planet like Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin (some even say his car was parked in front of Janis’ hotel the night she had her overdose) was slowly getting Morrison in his grip. At this time, Breteuil was living with the singer Marianne Faithfull who had just left Mick Jagger.

Jim in Paris

Morrison – UCR

On the 11th of March 1971, Jim leaves L.A for Paris. He moves in the Georges V hotel. When he arrives, Pamela is not in the hotel room.  He goes and waits for her at the bar Alexandre. During his stay in Paris, this is a bar that he will often go to. Because of the many tips that he leaves there, the hotel management accepts the many scandals of drunken Jim.  The bar doesn’t exist anymore, it was destroyed many years ago and replaced by a Louis Vuitton shop. Even the bench, where the singer would fall asleep on completely drunk, has been removed. Probably by one of Jim’s fan.

So Morrison is alone in the city and he doesn’t speak any word of French. Pamela is busy leaving her Parisian life and hanging out with the count and his friend in Saint Germain des Près. Alone in the capital, Jim enjoys the Parisian life like Hemingway used to do it: hanging out on the terraces, at the Shakespeare and Compagnie library or roaming around the different booksellers set up on the quays.

Jim and Pam’s first apartment

Jim and Pamela – Daily Telegraph

On the 11th of May 1971, Jim and Pam start renting an apartment on the third floor, rue Beautreillis. They rent it to a model called Elisabeth Larivière who is also a close friend of the count Jean de Breteuil.  Until the 10th of April, the three live together in the apartment. Then, the model goes to Saint Tropez, leaving the couple is alone. Jim is happy living there partly because it’s right around the corner where Charles Baudelaire used to live between 1858 and 1859.  He spends the day roaming around the city, writing,  reading and manages to become anonymous again. He also likes to spend the day sitting on benches near the place des Vosges in the Marais. By the way, if you are interested, Discover Walks run a free walking tour in the Marais, find out more here.

Where he eats

Jim’s favorite restaurant – A friend in Paris

Located on the 18th rue de Beautreillis, this restaurant used to be Jim Morrison’s favorite. It is now called “Le Dindon en Laisse” (if you want to go eat at this restaurant). It was located in front of Jim and Pamela’s apartment. The owners sold the restaurant in 1990 and when learning about its history the new ones decided to acquire the tiles that were in Jim’s bathroom when he died (who said “creepy” ?).

The death of an icon

Jim Morrison’s death – amazon

Many things were said on the singer’s death but today, more than forty years later, only two serious hypotheses remain on what happened that night. First of all, everyone seems to agree on what he did during his last afternoon. Jim was with his friend Alain Ronay, roaming around the streets in Le Marais. The two of them went for a beer at the Café des Phares in Bastille. When he got home, Jim took his girlfriend to the movies, they went to see “Pursued” a Raoul Walsh movie with actor Robert Mitchum.

Then, the official version says that during the night Pamela is woken up by Jim’s loud breathing. She wants to call a doctor but Jim refuses. He has a bath to try and calm himself down but starts vomiting blood. That’s not the first time it’s happening to him so he asks Pam not to worry and to go back to bed. It’s only around 5 am when Pamela wakes up, that she discovers Morrison’s dead body in the bathtub.

So, of course, there is another version, unofficial this time. But as nothing has been proven I would personally be more inclined to respect the man’s memory by not spreading rumors.

Why Jim Morrison is Buried in Paris

Jim Morrison, the legendary rock band The Doors’ lead vocalist is buried in Paris because he died there. Morrison died from heart failure as controversy suggests. There is frequently some form of conspiracy around the death, especially if it occurred under unusual circumstances.

Elektra Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When Doors vocalist Jim Morrison died in Paris in July 1971, at the age of 27, all the boxes were checked for an old-fashioned mystery. Only Morrison’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson, the examining doctor, and a couple of fire and police officials whose identities were swiftly forgotten had seen the corpse by the time Morrison was laid to rest for the final time four days later.

The young American who rose to popularity in the Los Angeles band had died in a faraway nation, and things had quickly become unclear. Following his death, he was interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery which is one of the world’s most famous cemeteries and the final resting place of many great people.

Read also; The Best Way to Find Jim Morrison’s grave in Pere Lachaise

Fans have been doing Jim Morrison’s tomb rites for decades. As a mark of respect, they bring souvenirs such as photographs, flowers, messages, and candles. In same spirit, there is a nearby tree where people frequently leave chewing gum as a symbol of independence and defiance of authority.

ManoSolo13241324, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jim Morrison was buried in Paris for a variety of reasons. To begin, at the time of his death Morrison was living in Paris with his lover Pamela Courson. Second, Morrison had a close relationship with the city and its cultural and literary past. He was influenced by French writers such as Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire and he identified with the city’s bohemian atmosphere.

It is believed that he went to the cemetery a few weeks before his death. He spent hours walking around the lanes as he visited the graves of various notable personalities, but his main goal was to visit Oscar Wilde’s grave, who was one of his idols. That is when he decided he wanted to be buried with him and all the other famous personalities buried in this cemetery, which is how he ended up in Père Lachaise.

ProtoplasmaKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other ideas suggest that Morrison’s family sought to avoid the commercialization and media frenzy that could have ensued if he had been buried in the United States, particularly in his hometown of Los Angeles. They secured a more tranquil and private final burial place for him by selecting a quieter and more secluded resting site in Paris.

Despite Jim Morrison’s burial being in Paris, his original sculpture was stolen and destroyed. Morrison’s sculptor, on the other hand is still hard at work on a new statue of the singer to be placed on his grave. Although it is believed that Morrison’s family plans to bring his remains to Florida, the grave serves as a remembrance of the singer’s life and success.

Read also; 20 Great Things Not to Miss When Visiting Paris

Effervescing Elephant, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here it is! Now you know a bit more on Jim Morrison’s time in Paris!

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