Monday, September 04, 2006

Pere Lachaise

I'm writing about my travels out of the order that they went in, so it seems appropriate that the last entry I plan to make is about our first day.

We got to our hotel five hours before we could check in. As is our usual habit, we checked the bags, and went out to scout the city. Instead of wandering aimlessly, I had a destination in mind. It didn't look at far on the map. I should have checked the scale. An hour later, we found the front gates of Pere Lachaise cemetery.

(Some images from the cemetery before my camera died)

There were many gravesites I wanted to visit. Proust, Balzac, Isodora Duncan, Gertrude Stein, Chopin, Seurat... After climbing the first two hills, which were quite steep, the SO admitted that he didn't care to see Oscar Wilde's final resting place. I went on alone. Near Victor Noir's rather well endowed memorial, an older man walked alongside me and talked. My brain was mush from the trip, and my very limited French is atrocious, so I wondered if I should even try to tell him that I didn't understand a word he was saying. Finally, I decided I had to. Apparently, I'm more charming in French then I am in English. Either that, or he has a thing for jet-lagged, unshowered, rumpled women who hike around graveyards. Whatever. I was a little relieved when I finally lost him.

Oscar Wilde's gravestone was a trip. If you go to the Pere Lachiase website, you can see the art deco carving on the top of the monument, but what they don't show is the four feet of smooth granite below it which is covered, on all four sides, with lip prints. Absolutely covered. Unfortunately, my camera died before I got to it, so I don't have my own pictures. I didn't even get a shot of Jim Morrison's unimpressive memorial stone, which I would have missed if it hadn't been for the goth chick in red fishnets leaning against a nearby family tomb.

I found the SO alseep on a bench in the middle of the cemetery, right where I'd left him. We hiked back to the hotel, and even though we were there a little bit before check-in, they took pity on us and let us into the room. I have to say, every person we dealt with in Paris was very helpful, sometimes above and beyond the call of duty, and reasonably friendly. We did mind our French manners - greeting waiters and clerks as soon as we entered a place, and always starting off speaking French - but no one was rude. That being said, I probably won't go back. Italy, however... I'm counting the days until I can get back to Rome.


Keziah Hill said...

Another graveyard! If you come to Sydney Kathleen, I'll have to take you to Rookwood the biggest necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere. Or to Waverly Cemetary just near Bondi on the headland overlooking the Pacific.

I'm enjoying your travel posts.

Kathleen Bradean said...

Yes, another cemetery.
I love funerial art. I took a ton of pix before my camera battery gave out (just before I really wanted it, of course) showing different expressions of grief. It's amazing how the artists of these momuments are able to capture it.
I feel I get a good sense of a culture and what they value when I see how they treat their dead.

I'm glad you're enjoying my posts.