A trip to a Paris cemetary
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 97 18:07:10 -0700
Subject: A trip to a Paris cemetary
Sunday, Michelle & Paola wanted to show us the Paris cemetary, Cimeti~re
du P~re-Lachaise, close behind their house. OK, so that sounds a little
odd, and it probably would be in the U.S. But the French take their dead
very seriously. Walk around a U.S. cemetary and you see neat little rows of
tombstones with an occasional cross or small monument. This particular
French cemetary has cobble stone streets lined with some of the most
incredible monuments you'll ever see. Most of them are gothic, church-like
buildings about 5' wide by 7' deep by 10' high. They usually have iron and
glass doors and stained glass windows. Normally you'll see an entire family
(about 200 years worth) in each vault.
But, about 40% of the tombs are marked with sculpture or architecture
you'd normally only find in galleries or big city buildings. And the
famous people of the world all line up to be buried here. The first one I
saw was Gertrude Stein. Her tomb was a rounded purple marble coffin on a
base of marble with a marble plachard above with her name on it.
The second dead person we saw was Edith Piaf, the very sad and dramatic
French singer that was declared a national treasure. Her simple black marble
tomb was covered with fresh flowers. So much so that you can barely see her
name, written in white across the base. What the program doesn't say is that
T~o Sarropo, her lover and 20 years younger, is buried with her. She and he
died in poverty because, although she was the most famous singer in France,
she had the habit of giving all of her money to the poor.
You can also find Fr~d~ric Chopin, Honor~ Balzac, Honor~ Daumier, Eug~ne
Daumier, Dominque Ingres, Moli~re, Jim Morrison (that's right, The Doors),
James Rothschild, George Seurat and Oscar Wilde (someone stole his pee pee,
on the monument that is) ... to name a few.
Most of the famous are buried in the simple, marble coffins that would
tell of their unpretentious nature. Some of the infamous have the most
fantastic and grandiose (grandiose is a French word) tombs you'll ever see.
They range from the trapezoidal piece of granite with the stunning white
marble girl sitting on top, to a 40' structure that looks like the Taj
Mahal, to the thing that looks like a 70' lighthouse.
And there are the special ones also. There's the extremely good looking
bronze of a man whose penis is nearly worn off because the women who may be
having trouble conceving, come to rub themselves against him to become more
fertile. We didn't actually find this one on this trip but Paola assured us
it is there .
We did find the beautiful bronze, lifesize girl with the wonderful green
patina,.. except on her (also lifesize) breasts that have been worn to the
smooth, shiny metal by the curious hands of the visitors.
And of course there's our buddy Jim Morrison. His grieving fans have
expressed their feelings with spray paint. His beautiful marble tomb, with
a picture of his face in porcelin, is completely covered with graffiti.
Altogether, there are over 100,000 people buried here. And the only reason
I'm spending so much time writing about this place is that we spent nearly
5 hours there with Michelle & Paola. At one point we got separated and were
totally lost for almost an hour. This was extremely surreal!
It was nice to get out of there, back to the hotel and a great dinner at
a small but very fun Italian cafe down the street. This was also the first
night we got over to La Coupole. That's one of the big, bright and fun
Parisian nightclubs that the famous have been hanging out in for over 200
years (not all at once) . Miki loved this place. They serve Remy Martin XO
Special Conac for $10.00 a glass ($45.00 a glass in S. F.). They gave her
a poster and one of their beautiful menus. I think we're going to have to
leave some clothes here to make room for all the souviners.
Sent from a Newton via Aloha 2.3.6
© 1997 Peter Langston