Père Lachaise Cemetary

7 Jun

pere lachaise entrance

On Thursday, my French class went on one of our “cultural field trips”. Previous ones have included cheese tasting and a tour of the area around the school, so this was a step up. Père Lachaise is Paris’s largest cemetery and some of the biggest and brightest personalities of the past two hundred years are buried there.

The cemetery is so famous and so many people wish to be buried there that some creative rules have been put into place on the question of space. You have to be French, died in France, or died for France to be buried there without an extravagant fee, and even then buying a plot in perpetuity is very, very, expensive. Entire families are often buried on one plot, going down as far as five levels. It’s kind of wild.

It’s actually a pretty cool place to walk around, gruesome as it seems. The architecture in the small sepulchres is fascinatingly complex, there’s enough stone angels around to make a Doctor Who fan nervous, and it’s fun to try and spot the grave sites of various notables from the past 200 years.

oscar wildeThe biggest draw is obviously Oscar Wilde. His Art Deco tomb has been a bit of a tourist attraction, as young ladies will slather on their brightest red lipstick and kiss it for luck. Unfortunately, all the Revlon and Maybelleine was doing some serious damage to the stone itself, so the cemetery authorities installed a glass wall around it. People still kiss the glass, but it gets cleaned regularly.

jim morrrisonJimmy Morrison’s grave is also a fairly popular one. Apparently, the cemetery authorities had to install cameras to prevent people from doing drugs at his grave.

chopinChopin’s grave. From what I understand, his body is buried here, but his heart was removed after Chopin’s death and sent to his native Poland. Gruesome.

broken columnsThis isn’t anyone famous, but it is a good example of a weird trend in 19th century burial practices. The shattered columns are a symbol of an early, untimely death. Life cut short, as you will.

art deco angelA close up from an extremely cool Art Deco family sepulchre.

P1070602A cool bronze statue.

 P1070599A bit of graffiti on one of the tombstones. Loosely translated, it says “This is how you brake?”

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2 Responses to “Père Lachaise Cemetary”

  1. Trish June 8, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    Hope you kissed the glass!

  2. Mark June 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Please amend the title – In the country of Heaven (now in the country of Wine and Cheese)

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