Thursday, April 26, 2012

Around the World: Pere Lachaise

April 26, 1992

Jane and I are off to explore Pere Lachaise cemetery, where several famous people are buried.  I've heard many stories of people becoming lost amongst the tombstones.  In my head, I picture a typical graveyard, orderly plots, row on row, as it were.  I can't imagine how someone could get disoriented in a cemetery.

... and then I walked inside.

As we make our way toward the grave of Jim Morrison, I quickly realize how easy it is to get lost. Following the cobblestone streets between towering tombs is like walking through a city of the dead.

but the neighbours are really quiet.

Over 1 million bodies are buried in the 110 acre cemetery, among them, Oscar Wilde, Georges Bizet, and Frederic Chopin. Many of the tombs are several feet high and merge together like a wall.  Spray painted across the tombs are directions to the cemetery's most popular resident.

the directions are thoughtful, but the method is in poor taste.

When we finally find the grave of Jim Morrison, it is surrounded by a small crowd of people singing songs by The Doors and playing guitars, others light candles and the smell of pot is thick in the air.  Jane and I make ourselves comfortable on a nearby stone and share some of the wine we brought with us.

music and munchies

We continue to walk along the paths between the tombs and found the resting place of Oscar Wilde.  It is tradition to mark the monument over his grave with a red lip print. His tomb is covered in kisses.

We also found the graves of Chopin, and a small gravestone with the name Bugatti. It's a bit of a mystery which of the famous performance car designer family is buried here, as Ettore and his son Jean are both interred in Alsace.

After several hours of exploring, Jane and I come to the unanimous conclusion that we are hopelessly lost. Approaching us is a small group of older women, one of which has a map.  In my best french, I approach her and announce, "J'ai perdu."

In french, I understand her response as, "You poor girl," and she does her best to show me where we are and how to get to the entrance.

Jane and I make our way back to our hotel and enjoy the rest of our wine.  I have rigged the luggage rack to support a can of beans that Jane is heating up over a candle. 

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"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn."
~Jim Morrison