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The 20th district not only has the highest district number in Paris, it also contains the highest point in the capital. And it hosts a fine collection of French dead people at the Père-Lachaise cemetery, which the tourists seem to enjoy greatly, and a foreign dead man who causes a lot of trouble. Let's start with the map:

   _______---------- Belleville    /\
   \          rue de              /  `  Les Lilas
    \    #     \                 /   |
    \    ##     \         Cim   /    |
     \  ####     \      BelleV /     |         ###  Parc de Belleville
     \   ####     .          /       |           
      \           |         /        |         +++  Père-Lachaise
      \            .      /          |
       \           |     /           |
       \           |   /             |
        \          \  /              |
        \   +++     Pl.              |  Bagnolet
         \++++++  Gambetta-----------|
         \++++++++   |               |
         \++++++++   |               |
         \ ++++++++  |               |
         \ ++++++++  |               |
          \  ++++    `               |
           \  ++      \              |
            \          \             |
             \          \            |  Montreuil
   11th      \           .           |
              \          |           |
              \          |           |
               \  Cours de Vincennes |
               `---------------------|  Saint-Mandé
        Nation 12th                  |

Everything in italics is outside the district. The 20th district is the 3rd most populated district in Paris with 182,952 inhabitants in 1990. It's the 7th largest district (5.98 km2).

Top of the hill

When you stand on boulevard de Belleville, in the north-east end of the district, you can see steep streets that go up the hill. From the métro Belleville, you may take the very lively rue de Belleville, the heart of the second most Chinese quarter of Paris (the other one is in the 13th district). Or, from métro Couronnes, take rue des Couronnes, which leads to Parc de Belleville. There is something special about this park: its steep slope attracts you, and you don't want to stop until you get to the top of the park because you guess that you will have a beautiful view from up there. You will not be disappointed: it provides you with one of the largest panorama over Paris you can find. If you continue along rue de Belleville, which marks the limit between the 19th district and the 20th district, you'll get to the cemetery of Belleville at métro Télégraphe. The name of the metro station, which is also the name of a street, tells you that this place is the highest point in Paris, but this requires some explanation.

Chappe's telegraph

In the late 18th century, during the French revolution, Chappe invented the first long-distance communication system. Chappe's system consisted in wooden semaphore signals; stations needed to be installed on every hill all along the road, and transmitted messages with a kind of alphabetical code. In Paris, the first station was naturally installed in the highest place, i.e here. Chappe's invention was called telegraph, hence the name of the street.

The Ghost of Père-Lachaise

Coming down to the south, you get to the Père-Lachaise cemetery. It's the largest cemetery inside Paris, and the one that hosts the greatest number of famous people. A list of them is available on noticeboards near the entrance. However, if you are looking for someone whose name starts with an 'M', you may find that his name has been erased. The reason is that thousands of illiterate people had to put their finger onto the noticeboard in order to find the name "Morrison". Jim Morrison was the singer in an old music band named "Windows" or something like that. He had a very bad idea: he came to Paris, and died. His ghost has been haunting the most beautiful cemetery in Paris ever since, writing graffiti and even damaging tombs. Or maybe his fans, not being able of writing more than their initials, are responsible for that. Fans have also been caught making love on Handsome Jim's tomb. Now, policemen stand near the tomb, watching dozens of college students on their 8-day Europe Tour who believe that Oliver Stone's movie was the greatest movie since Star Wars. (In short, Morrison's tomb is a major nuisance, and it should have been moved long ago to the suburbs.)

Don't forget to see the rest of the cemetery: the steep alleys, the tombs of Abélard and Héloïse, the forest of trees and stones, and half of the most famous French historical characters. Although you may not recognize many names if you are not familiar with French history. Read le cimetière du Père Lachaise for more information about the cemetery.