Montparnasse Cemetery draws many visitors in search of the famous dead.
The Cimetiere de Montparnasse in downtown Paris is a truly terrific place to visit world-renowned celebrities, although the downside is, of course, that they're all dead.
The epitaph on Man Ray's gravestone at Montparnasse cemetery reads "unconcerned, but not indifferent", a fitting tribute from his girlfriend, Juliet Browner.
People from all over the world come to immerse themselves in the charms of the French capital, which even spill over into its main cemeteries - Pere-Lachaise in the east, Montparnasse in the south and Montmartre in the north. The French and the tourists enjoy strolling through these parks, reading epitaphs, appreciating the headstone art and exquisite sculptures, watering plants, or simply hunting for their favourite names.
Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, is buried at Pere-Lachaise, and his grave is the most popular of the 70,000 permanent residents at the cemetery.
Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who after being charged with homosexual offences, died penniless and alone in a Paris hotel, lies in an art deco tomb, which is covered in lipstick kisses from people all over the world.
His epitaph reads:
"And alien tears will fill for him Pity's long-broken urn, For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn."
It's easy to lose your way in the 48-hectare spread that makes up Paris' largest cemetery. Pere-Lachaise was opened in 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte, almost two decades after cemeteries had been banned inside Paris for public health reasons. It was named for Pere de la Chaise, the confessor of King Louis IV, who lived in a Jesuit residence that stood at the site of the present-day chapel.
Among the earliest residents were Moliere, aka Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, the celebrated French playwright, and the poet Jean de La Fontaine, who were both reburied here in 1804, the year the cemetery opened, as part of a marketing strategy to attract the famous to book burial plots.
So which other celebrities will you meet? Well, there are the painters Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Max Ernst, Delacroix and Modigliani, and a wealth of literary figures including Colette, Gertrude Stein, Victor Hugo, Balzac and Marcel Proust.
Music lovers can commune with Chopin, Rossini, Edith Piaf and the urn that used to hold the ashes of soprano Maria Callas, while dance fans will find French can-can artiste Jane Avril and the American Isadora Duncan.
It would take you a full day to see them all at Pere-Lachaise.
And after visiting one cemetery, you may be eager to see more. In which case, head to Montparnasse.
Created in 1824, the South Cemetery, as it's also known, is only half the size of Pere-Lachaise. However, you still need to know who you want to see: get hold of a map, and plan your walk.
When I stumbled upon Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who are buried side by side, I'd almost given up hope of finding Man Ray.
Other celebrities buried at Montparnasse include Samuel Beckett, author of "Waiting for Godot", singer Serge Gainsbourg, actress Jean Seberg, Andre Citroen, founder of the French car company, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, novelist Guy de Maupassant, the sculptor Constantin Brancusi and French poet Charles Baudelaire.
Visitors to Montmartre shouldn't neglect the cemetery here, also known as the North Cemetery. Close to the metro at Place de Clichy, Montmartre is small, which makes it easy to stroll around. Many people go to visit writer Emile Zola, filmmaker Francois Truffaut, Adolphe Sax, the guy who invented the saxophone, and impressionist painter Edgar Degas, who is buried in the family tomb.
Maps are available at all the cemeteries and offer pointers to the resting places of the famous. Those not interested in celebrity spotting will be stunned by the monuments, which range from beautiful to morbid and from spooky to tacky.
For a morbidly romantic way to burn off some calories in Paris, you can't beat browsing gravestones.
If you go...
Pere Lachaise is at 16 Rue du Repos in the 20th Arrondissement. The nearest metro stops are Pere-Lachaise, Gambetta Porte or Philippe Auguste. For more information, www.Pere-Lachaise.com.
Montparnasse Cemetery is at 3 boulevard Edgar Quinet and can be reached by metro line No 6 - get off at Raspail or Quinet. Look for rue Emile Richard on your left, where there are four entrances to the main cemetery and two to the smaller cemetery.
Opened in 1825, Montmartre covers 10 hectares in the hollow of an old quarry in the 18th Arrondissement and is accessible by metro (Place de Clichy). The entrance is on avenue Rachel.
All three cemeteries are open during the summer months, Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturday from 8.30 to 6 and Sunday and public holidays from 9 until 6. They close one hour
earlier in winter.