Saturday, June 25, 2011

Père Lachaise cemetery

I love weekends in Paris. To be completely honest; I really, really don't like working from home on utterly boring translations, so during the week it's not much fun until Andrew comes home. But weekends... ah! I love it! So last Saturday we made a trip to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. It's a very old very big cemetery in Paris and there just so happen to be a lot of famous people buried there. It's also a beautiful cemetery. Lovely walkways and tree-covered alleys, and a WHOLE lot of history. The picture below will give you a little idea of what it was like.

Really old, crumbld tombstones you can't even read anymore right alongside newer models and all sorts of different architectural styles jumbled together. People can still be buried there; some tombs were brand new.

Edith Piaf here, in her family plot. (Look closely on the side) Incidentally, Piaf is not her real name. It means "bird" or sparrow, it's a somewhat derogatory term for a scrawny bird.

Oscar Wilde. People love to kiss his tomb, but I wasn't about to because who knows where all those lips have been...


And we were lucky because the weather was perfect.

Hey Chopin!

There were also a bunch of french communist party tombs and memorials in one corner which was pretty funny, and lots of royalty and semi-nobility (you can tell just from the pompous names...).

There were also a lot of tombs for Jews killed in death camps and deported during WWII as well as memorials to people who participated in the Resistance. So many stories were told through some simple words of remembrance, statues, portraits, poems... glimpses of history everywhere you walked.

Shoah memorial

I posted the next photo as my Facebook profile after we went and a girl commented that it was awkward to be "smiling looking all happy next to a grave". I disagree completely. 

Of course, reverence is important and being respectful of those who may be grieving is a given. But I've always thought cemeteries were places of life as well. People live again a little when we remember them and visit them, and we learn about people by seeing how they were buried and what the people who cared for them wanted them to be remembered by. And I also don't think people that have died want us moping around and wearing black for months--pretty sure they moved on a long time ago! So just for your information, when I die I want people to have fun on my grave. (Incidentally, this reminds me of a French song called "J'veux Qu'on Baise Sur Ma Tombe" which I won't translate for you because I'm a lady...)

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