Monday, April 25, 2011

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

The Pere Lachaise Cemetery is famous for having a lot of famous people buried in it. For most Americans of my age group, however, its famous for being the final resting place of Jim Morrison. It is also the final destination of Edith Piaf, Colette (she wrote Gigi, which became the movie musical with the most disturbing opening song ever), Sarah Bernhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Isadora Duncan, Getrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Marcel Proust, and many others.

Marcel Marceau is buried here. Whether or not he is doing "I'm stuck in a box" for all eternity is unknown.

This is the final resting place of Oscar Wilde, covered in graffiti and lipstick kisses. I hate that he died at the age of 46 due to ill health and alcoholism caused, at least in part, by having been imprisoned from 1895-1897 for homosexual behavior. I love that among his last recorded words is the statement "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go."

Victor Noir is another famous person, but he is famous more for the manner of his death (he was shot by the great-nephew of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte) and the fact that after his death, his tomb became a fertility symbol because of the way the sculptor of his statue depicted his genital area. Apparently, women believe that by leaving flowers in his hat, kissing him on the lips, and rubbing his "business," they will be ensured fertility. That's why part of the statue is shiny and the rest has a patina.

I took a picture of this guy because he looked like he would have been a fun person to know. As it turns out, after a little research (I love Wikipedia) I discovered I was right. This is Leon Thery, who was a famous French race car driver at the turn of the 20th century. He drove his first race from Paris to Bordeaux in 1899 at the breakneck speed of 19 miles per hour.

The cemetery is huge, with boulevards and lanes cutting through its 118 acres. Even so, you are pretty much guaranteed to get lost.

It's also easy to wander off the designated paths. At least, that's the excuse I gave when my map-reading skills caused us to walk all over the place.

I was glad to see that Portuguese people were well represented, displaying the quiet good taste for which Portugal is renowned.

I did not break into this little prayer chapel, I just took a picture of what was inside: a picture of someone's grandma and a little plaque with a remembrance poem on it.

The Foodie found my interest in the insides of the chapels creepy, but I thought this one was lovely.

Speaking of creepy, The Cop drew my attention to this grave. I get that the couple is supposed to be together forever, but hands popping out of the top of a coffin are a bit much. Also, she's wearing a watch. Why? Does she have an appointment?

I thought this particular spot looked like a little patch of heaven. Not a bad place to spend eternity.

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