The Best Way to Find Edith Piaf’’s Grave in Pere Lachaise

Without trying, Paris somehow became the grounds for adult scavenger hunts that revolve around seeking out the graves of famous individuals who are no longer around.

Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris, and the main burial ground for the east of the city. It was one of four large garden cemeteries commissioned by the city during the Haussmann architectural era as a means to the overflowing graves in regular church graveyards,

Cimitière du Père Lachaise – by FreCha – Wikimedia Commons

The garden element is largely what makes the cemeteries of Paris so appealing to visitors. They are beautiful, lush grounds with thriving plant life; an apt paradox next to thousands of graves.

Our beloved Edith Piaf is buried in this cemetery of the east; one of the biggest, globally recognized artists to ever emerge from Paris. Today, she holds permanent residency at Perl Lachaise.

Who Was Edith Piaf?

Sometimes Parisian locals will refer to Edith Piaf as “The Little Sparrow”, as she was known from the beginning of her career in Paris thanks to her petite stature and incredibly nervous energy.

Piaf was a Parisian local herself. After a tumultuous childhood she rose to stardom and went on to be one of the most important singers, songwriters, cabaret performers and actresses of all time.

Edith Piaf – by Nationaal Archief – Wikimedia Commons

Her ballads made their way around the world, usually always reflecting the themes of love, loss and sorrow. She sang only in French, but was renowned for being able to emote all of her musical messages to listeners whether they could speak the language or not.

During World War II, Edith Piaf was the most famous performer in France. She was brought in to provide performances for German soldiers and this launched her further into stardom. It was later suggested that Piaf may have been working for the French Resistance, having helped Jewish individuals escape Nazi persecution.

Edith Piaf’s Life in Paris

Edith Piaf was born in 1915 in a district called Belleville in the east of Paris. It sits just above the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Piaf was born into intense poverty and raised in a brothel. Her life prior to her finding her voice through performance was filled with angst, uncertainty and more charisma than any of us can imagine.

Belleville is one of the most interesting neighborhoods to explore by foot in Paris. It’s nothing like any of the central arrondissements you’ve been accustomed too.

Edith Piaf’s Apartment Building – by Natalie Wra – Discover Walks

Belleville remains one of the last remaining Parisian neighborhoods yet to be completely enveloped by gentrification. It’s a quirky artist’s village lined with street cafes, bars and graffiti on every building .

Edith Piaf’s apartment is open for viewing in Bellevile; you can find it at 5 Rue Crespin du Gast just next to the Menilmontant metro stop. Technically it is a private museum and open for viewing based only on appointment, but the outside of the building is open to the public from the street.

Why You Should Watch La Vie En Rose

The ballad that Edith Piaf is most recognized for worldwide is La Vie En Rose.

In 2007, director Olivier Dahan released the film with the same name, making it one of the most successful French films of all time. It’s a biographical look at the life of Edith Piaf both before and after her career in Paris took off.

In an astounding performance by Marion Cotillard, you’ll watch the events of Edith Piaf’s life in Belleville, Paris unfold.

It’s a phenomenal reflection of the early 1900s in Paris and what life would have been like for the less privileged groups in society.

A still from La Vie en Rose by Olivier Dahan

Why Was She Buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris?

Taking a free guided walking tour through Paris you’ll begin to notice a stark separation between the people of the east, the people of the west and those of the north and south. It’s a distinction that isn’t often verbalized but remains evident regardless.

Since Edith Piaf was born in the east and lived here the duration of her life in Paris, it was only natural that her final resting place should be the cemetery of the east.  Members of her extended family were already buried here in a family tomb.

Edith Piaf’s Grave – by Prewitt8 – Wikimedia Commons

Public protest would have been a sure event should a decision to bury her elsewhere have been made. The people of Belleville hold her memory close; to this day there are still Edith Piaf themed evenings at some of the bars and restaurants in the suburb where they play all of her greatest hits after one another.

The Best Way to Find Edith Piaf’s Grave at Pere Lachaise Cemetery

As mentioned, Piaf is buried in a family grave in Pere Lachaise. For this reason her tomb doesn’t pop up on any of the cemetery maps because technically it is not solely her tomb.

Edith Piaf’s Grave – by
Jim Linwood – Wikimedia Commons

The grave you are looking for will read “Famille Gassion-Piaf”. Because it is so hard to find there is generally no crowding; most people flock to find Jim Morisson or Oscar Wilde instead.

Piaf’s grave is deep within the cemetery, near the central eastern area. One should enter the grounds at the southern tip by the Pierre-Emmanuel Naturel Garden. From here, head south on the main road toward the crematorium. The family tomb is near the halfway mark between the entrance and the crematorium site.

Edith Piaf’s Grave – by PRA – Wikimedia Commons

If you struggle to track it down, as most do due to its lack of signage, simply ask any of the groundsmen to get you back on track or link up with other travelers who are on the same mission.

Finding Edith Piaf’s grave in Pere Lachaise is a scavenger hunt of note. There is nothing distinctive about the families grave that makes it more indefinable than the next. At least with Oscar Wilde’s you need only look for the giant, naked sphinx-man (a must-see, by the way).

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