Sunday, October 2, 2016

City of the Dead

This was our Monday destination ~ the Cemetery of Père Lachaise in the 20th on the eastern side of the city.  The day was a bit chilly to start and the mood was somber and the skies were grey.  Perfect weather for visiting a graveyard.  The cemetery itself covers 110 acres; a small city.  The earliest marker we saw was in the 1600's, the latest was just 2 weeks ago.  There are very few headstones.  Most graves have above ground markers, big slabs of carved marble that look more like caskets than headstones, or .  The ground is tightly packed; I don't know if they remove old graves to make room for new ones, such as they do at San Micaela in Venice, but if not, it seemsk the place is now full.

We looked for some of its more famous inhabitants; Jim Morrison (not found), Gustave Caillebot (Paris Street, Rainy Day, not found), Edith Piaf (found), Gertrude and Alice (not found but I now know where they are ~ Section 94). Oscar Wilde (found by Cait), Chopin (no).  But there are many beautiful old gravesides scattered all through the cemetery.

The burial site of Oscar Wilde with a tall glass protective wall around it to keep all the fledgling authors from leaving their manuscripts at his tomb.  This is an actual concern; I didn't make it up!

There are detailed maps available at the shops around the cemetery but alas, we didm'[t know that until we got home and looked it up.  Next time.  But purposeless wandering around is lovely and quiet and I didn't really need a destination grave to enjoy our time there.

Long cobblestone streets, enormous chestnut trees arching together to make a lovely, sun-dappled path, thousands of tombs of every size and color, new and old, elaborate and modest, all lying quietly, side by side in this peaceful, almost sacred place.

We moved on to lunch at a place where Mr. C and I had been the last time we made the trek up here (although we didn't go into the cemetery, but that's another story).  We got there about noon and shortly there arrived a big crowd of what we assumed were the mourners we saw at a service in the cemetery.  We made it just in the nick!

These were our choices; a prix fixe for 14€.  I had  the salad, the lotte and panna cotta for desert.  Mr. C had the quiche, guille d'agneau and crême brulée, Cait the quiche and lamb brochette and crême brulée.  All washed down with a nice red and everyone came away happy.  Meanwhile, the mourners drank lot of wine, chatted together out on the sidewalk and left.  Just a farewell toast, I guess.

Tomorrow is a trip to Giverny via train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon.  One has to rest up for this excursion, GSL being what it is.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

beautiful reporting ~ I love every word and photo and I thank you