Jim Morrison Paris FAQ

When did Jim go to Paris?

Jim traveled to France in the summer of 1970. It was during this trip that you can see video footage of Jim visiting the movie set of Jacques Demy’s Peau d’âne.

Jim returned the following year in March 1971 to join his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, already in Paris. He died unexpectedly on July 3.

Why did Jim Morrison go to Paris?

Start by listening to this thorough podcast retracing Milestones from the last year of Jim‘s life by DJ Bennett (killradio.org).

According to Doors’ keyboardist, Ray Manzarek

Photo from the Doors’ last concert in New Orleans, December 1970.

The Doors last performance, December 1970
The Doors last performance at the Warehouse. New Orleans, Louisiana, December 12, 1970 (Photo David M. Patterson)

Jim’s last interview

Rolling Stone journalist, Ben Fong-Torres, interviewed Jim Morrison for Rolling Stone magazine in February 1971 at Diane Gardiner’s apartment in Los Angeles. Jim’s longtime girlfriend, Pamela Courson, also joins the conversation. This would turn out to be Jim’s final interview.

Morrison’s letters from Paris, 1971

Letter to Kathy and Frank Lisciandro sent from L’Hotel, postmarked May 18, 1971.

Dear Franck + Kathy
Sorry not to have written sooner. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here this long. We’ve been travelling in Spain, (Granada was best) Morocco, southern France + Corsica where I lost my jacket, money etc. + had to fly back to Paris to wait for more. If Sicily is anything like Corsica you’ll probably love it. We’ll be back in Paris around June 7 thru Sept. There’s an extra room so please stay w/us.
How is everything?
Say hello to everyone + try to get over here.

RR Auction

Postcard to Doors lawyer, Max Fink:

Postcard from Jim Morrison to Doors lawyer, Max Fink, postmarked 1971
Postcard from Jim Morrison to Doors lawyer, Max Fink, postmarked 1971.

Dear Max—it’s a beautiful spring in the ‘city of love’. Just returned from Spain, Morocco + Corsica — Napolean’s birthplace. Take a vacation! The women are great + the food is gorgeous. Say hi to all. Jim

Jim Morrison to Doors lawyer, Max Fink, 1971

Hello Bob—

How are you? The weather today finally turned sunny after a month of grey. Paris is beautiful in the sun, an exciting town built for human beings.

Speaking to Bill a while back, I told him of our desire to stay on here indefinitely. Will that be possible? Could you write & give me an idea of how long we can stay on living at our present rate. A sort of financial statement in general. Also, a copy of the partnership agreement if it was ever completed.

We’ve decided to turn the shop over to Tom & Judy so they can seek a loan—all but the furnishings & some personal things which we’ll keep. Eventually, we’d like to be completely clear of any involvement. Could you help figure out the best way to do this?

Incidentally, would you ask Judy for her parents address & send them $100.00 for the dog.

Any luck on the credit cards? We could use them, made out in both our names. What’s the problem?

And if you’d send our check when you receive this… house bills are catching up. Please send $3,000.00.

Give our best to all. Later. Jim

Jim Morrison to his accountant, Bob Greene

When did Jim die?

July 3, 1971. Born on December 8, 1943, Jim was 27 years old at the time of his death. Thus joining Hendrix, Joplin, Cobain, et al. in the 27 Club.

How did Jim die?

The information provided here presents a brief introduction into the mystery surrounding Jim Morrison’s death.

Official version

The coroner’s report indicates the cause of death as heart failure (natural death), “arrêt cardiaque (mort naturelle)”. The address on the death certificate is 17 rue Beautreillis where Jim was renting an apartment with Pamela Courson. Read Pamela’s official statement (in French) given to French authorities.
No autopsy was performed, therefore fueling speculation about how Jim really died to this day.

Façade 17 Rue Beautreillis, Paris75004
Façade 17 Rue Beautreillis, Paris75004

Unofficial version

  • According to Sam Bernett, manager of the of Rock’n’Roll Circus, Jim Morrison died from a massive heroin overdose in the toilet of the aforementioned nightclub (Daily Mail, 2007).
  • Marianne Faithfull revealed in an interview that Jean de Breteuil, a friend of Jim and Pamela’s, admitted to her that he “provided the gear.” (Classic Rock Magazine, March 2011)

Further reading

The story goes back to the summer of 1971, when she travelled to Paris with her then-boyfriend, heroin dealer to the stars Jean de Breiteuil. Upon their arrival Breiteuil told Faithfull that he had to pay a visit to The Doors’ singer’s apartment at 17 Rue Beautreillis. She says she felt a strange sense of foreboding and stayed behind at the couple’s hotel, knocking herself out with downers.

“I could intuitively feel trouble,” she recalls. “I thought, I’ll take a few Tuinal and I won’t be there. And he went to see Jim Morrison and killed him. I mean I’m sure it was an accident. Poor bastard. The smack was too strong? Yeah. And he died. And I didn’t know anything about this. Anyway, everybody connected to the death of this poor guy is dead now. Except me.”

Marianne Faithfull Tells MOJO: “I Know Who Killed Jim Morrison”, Fearless chanteuse reveals all on the eve of her new album and 50th Anniversary World Tour (Mojo magazine, August 2014)

Before the morning of July 3, 1971, Alain Raisson, a French fireman, had never heard of the American singer and poet Jim Morrison. As Raisson describes it today, his encounter with the man that he found unconscious in a bathtub full of lukewarm water was “short, intense and very real.” Raisson and his team of five firemen tried to revive him, but failed, and within minutes of arriving at the light-filled apartment on 17 rue Beautreillis in the Marais district of Paris, it was Raisson who pronounced “Mr. James Morrison” dead.

Lizard King: R.I.P. (Maclean’s)

Interview with Danny Sugarman, author of No One Here Gets Out Alive:

What happened the night Jim died?

After a call from Pam declaring “Jim’s unconscious and bleeding. Call an ambulance. You know I don’t speak French. Hurry up. I think he’s dying.”, Alain Ronay, Jim’s photographer friend, arrived at 17 rue Beautreillis accompanied by Agnès Varda. He recounts in Jim and I—Friends Until Death

Where is Jim buried?

Jim is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery, Division 6.

When was Jim buried?

Jim was buried on July 7. Five people attended the burial: Pamela Courson, Doors manager Bill Siddons, Jim’s friends, Agnès Varda and Alain Ronay, and Jim’s secretary, Robin Wertle.

1971 Jim Morrison's grave Père Lachaise cemetery
First photo of Jim Morrison’s grave (July 9, 1971 © Bettmann Getty Images archive)

Sadly when Bill [Siddons] returned from Paris he told me that the entire situation was a mess. I had been told that in Paris the coroner didn’t pick up dead bodies during the weekends. Pam had to maintain a deathwatch over Jim, alone in their apartment, that entire weekend. My heart breaks for her when I recall this story. Pam was to eventually return from Paris but she was forever changed.

The Making of Jim Morrison’s “An American Prayer” by John Haeny

Who inherited Jim’s estate?

Jim Morrison designated Pamela S. Courson as his inheritor in his Will and Testament, dated 12 February, 1969.

Will Jim’s remains be exhumed?

No. Not convinced? Keep reading.

  • French authorities first tried to exhume the singer’s body and have his tomb removed to another site, but discovered it has been leased in perpetuity. (The Telegraph, 2008)
  • NPR’s Scott Simon takes note of recent comments by the man who runs the cemetery in Paris where the late rock singer Jim Morrison of The Doors is buried. The caretaker wants the tomb moved because of the many troublesome fans who come to pay their respects. (NPR, 2004)
  • “It is totally unfounded,” said Henri Beaulieu, assistant director with Paris’ Central Cemetery Service, quoted by the Associated Press. “Jim Morrison isn’t moving.” About 1.5 million people visit the cemetery every year to see the famous graves. (CNN, 2001)

Did Jim record any music in Paris?

Contrary to popular and long-standing belief, no.

“But at least now that Michael McClure has positively been identified as one of the performers, it may help bring back some memories and lead to some new information. What is no longer a mystery is just where, and likely when, this recording was made. And while we can say that what has come to be know as ‘the Paris session tape’ is one of Jim Morrison’s oddest studio recordings, it most certainly was not his last.”

— Len Sousa, The Truth Behind The Lost Paris Tapes

So don’t believe the hype!

What happened to Jim’s girlfriend, Pamela Courson?

Pamela Susan Courson returned to Los Angeles after Jim’s death. She died 3 years later of a heroin overdose on April 25, 1974. She was also 27 years old at the time of her death.

She is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California.

Pamela Susan Courson's grave, Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California
Pamela Susan Courson’s grave in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California (Photo courtesy of J. Eric Lynxwile)
Memory Lane Trips with Steve

Where can I find more information on the Doors?

    2 thoughts on “Jim Morrison Paris FAQ

    1. I lived in Paris in July 1971. I turned 18 on July 8 th. I was a French speaker and met Jim at Le petit bar. He bought me and other kids coke … Jim était gentil. These are the facts. It was really hot and humid on July 3 rd … maybe 105 F and it didn’t cool off much. I don’t believe the nightclub guy’s story … too hot to transport dead bodies and that includes even drug dealers
      As for heroin and alcohol… are those required to die on an excruciatingly hot day of cardiac arrest ? If that were the case thousands wouldn’t be dead in her waves. Do any of these silly accounts even mention the heat? Do people understand that air conditioning was completely absent from Paris and still largely is? The facts are actually on the side of the official French death certificate. As background I refer you to the death in his bathtub of great chess champion Paul Morphy in 1884. On a hot July day in New Orleans after a long walk, Morphy went to take a bath and was found dead. No, alcohol, heroin weren’t even mentioned. It was the heat and cardiac failure … he was 47… probably the greatest chess player in history. My learned opinion is that Poor Jim died of cardiac arrest due to the high heat and humidity inside the bourgeois appartement dans le Marais. I write this as a huge fan of Jim and the Doors. But Jim didn’t really « die »… the Doors sell millions of records every year and Jim lives on in our hearts! Vive Jim Morrison et les Doors! Et vive la France


    2. Unfortunatley,all factors point to the idea that Jim did die in Paris,1971.Even though the mystique of Jim, and the Doors words and music live in most of our hearts and minds,i think it became inane and meaningless to Jim.that coupled with the fact he was a very heavy alcoholic,his body and soul gave out there in France in 1971,contrary to any other myths or beliefs,Jim is gone,yet not in spirit,one “myth” I subscribe to is that he was a true Shaman,with the soul of a poet,his words,songs and spirit shall be with us forever.



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