Chopin and a Paris city skyline

Walking the Steps of Chopin in Paris

I was lucky enough to visit Paris and while I was there I made it my mission to visit as many landmarks related to Chopin’s life there as I could. It was so fun to walk along streets he had once walked along, and even play a piano he once played!

In this post I’ll describe the Chopin landmarks I visited so you can live vicariously through my experiences. You’ll also have a nice list of Chopin-related destinations to seek out yourself if you ever find yourself in Paris!

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Chopin's grave stone

Similar to my favorite practice method, I experienced Chopin’s life moving backwards. This means the first place I visited was his grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery. I was able to download and print out a map of the cemetery, along with a list of notable people buried there. I then circled all the people I was interested in, marked them on our map, and headed out to find them.

This ended up turning into a super fun scavenger hunt as I meandered through the winding pathways between headstones and crypts, searching for one grave at a time. Chopin’s was well-marked and decorated with several bouquets of fresh flowers, as one would expect considering how loved and revered he still is to this day.

Note: His remains are buried here, all except for his heart. On his deathbed the composer requested that his heart be taken back to Poland, where he was born. It resides in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, and was only recently exhumed for scientific inspection for the first time since his death in 1849. I’ll have to plan a visit there on another trip!

L’église de la Madeleine

Inside a big, French cathedral

On October 30th, 1849, Chopin’s funeral was held at this church. The story goes that there was a two-week delay before the service took place because the composer had requested that Mozart’s Requiem be performed. This was an issue because until then the church hadn’t allowed women to sing in its choir, and Mozart’s Requiem has important parts for female voices. Finally the church relented and allowed the performance to take place, though they required that the women stand behind a black curtain. Yay feminism! …Kinda.

This is a beautiful piece of architecture, as one expects from old churches in Europe. I enjoyed taking in the hollow echoes and cool air, imagining I was at that event over a century and a half ago, saying goodbye to the beloved composer. Had I in fact been there, it would have been a much different experience as over 3,000 people came to see him off, including notable figures such as Franz Liszt and Victor Hugo!

12 Place Vendôme

A plaque explaining in French that this is the place of Chopin's death

This was Chopin’s final address. He lived there for about a year as his health declined, his rent paid by his friends as he was nearly penniless. He died in his bed at 2am, October 17th, 1849. Before his death he had many visits from friends and admirers, and his sister Ludwika stayed there with him for the final months. He was notably not visited at this time by George Sand, who was famously the most important romantic relationship in his life. She also did not attend his funeral.

Although the apartment is not open to the public, there is a plaque on the wall here memorializing Chopin’s passing in this location. I enjoyed standing in the plaza he would have walked through each day, until he no longer could do so. In my opinion they should make his old apartment into a Chopin museum!

Tuileries Garden

Beautiful flowers, blue sky, and intricate statue in Tuileries Garden

Although it was much different back then, the Tuileries Garden was a lovely place to walk even in Chopin’s day. Nearby there’s a fancy restaurant called Angelina with a little dessert counter in the front that sells coffee, hot chocolate, and macarons. I’d skip the macarons (they’re better elsewhere) but the coffee is possibly the best coffee I’ve ever had!

Those added refreshments made for a lovely stroll through the garden, imagining what Chopin might have seen and whether such sights might have inspired some of the beautiful music he composed.

Société Historique et Littéraire Polonaise

Old piano under portraits of Chopin

This is the Polish library, and there’s an entire room here dedicated to Chopin! It’s also the oldest non-French library in Paris.

The Chopin room has portraits, writings, and even a piano he once played! (However, it’s not kept at all in tune so don’t plan on making any music with it.) Of all the Chopin-related locations I visited on this trip, this was the most informative one and was a good note to end on, celebrating the life and works of a wonderful, world-changing composer.

Bonus locations:

The above locations are the only ones I visited on my trip, but below are a few I missed and intend to check out if I ever find myself in Paris again! If you beat me to it, let me know if you end up visiting any of these locations!

Palais-Royal

Technically this isn’t really tracing Chopin’s footsteps, as it seems he may not have gone here himself very often. This was the location of the luxury shops that made the white gloves and fancy hats Chopin was so fond of wearing. However, rather than go shop for them himself, he had his secretary put in the order and the items were delivered to his house! Chopin was practically an online shopper!

Square d’Orléans

This is where Chopin and George Sand lived starting in 1842. I’m not sure how long George Sand stayed, but Chopin lived there until 1848 when he moved to Place Vendôme.

Musée de la Vie romantique

This museum apparently has all kinds of artifacts related to the various artists from the Romantic period, including Chopin. I’d love to visit it someday, as there are so many interesting people from that time!

Make Practice Time Easier By Planning Ahead!

Hands playing piano keys with a metronome and pencil nearby

Learn how to plan exactly what you need to do each day to accomplish your goals. Then all you have to do at practice time is sit down and play!

The Piecewise Practice Planner will help you make meaningful progress every time you practice, even with as little as 5 minutes per practice session.

Best of all, it’s completely FREE–to opt in, click the button below!

Heidi has been involved in music in one way or another for most of her life. She studied music composition in college, has taught piano, voice, composition, ear training, and guitar, and has worked as a piano tuner and technician. Before the pandemic she loved playing concerts at retirement communities, bringing the joy of music to those populations. She is currently working on learning more about the connection between music and healing.

Related Articles:

Inspiration from Daily Rituals
Start With Piano: 10 Reasons Why It’s The Best Foundation

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *