Monday, July 29, 2013

a morning in père lachaise cemetery

Not too far of a walk from our place is the most famous cemetery in Paris, Père Lachaise. It is the burial place of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, and lots of other famous people who lived or died in Paris (living or dying in the city is actually a prerequisite for being buried here). 

We thought New Orleans has some impressive cemeteries, but we should have known that it paled in comparison to what the French would do (nothing is half-assed here).

 The main entrance.

 A sampling of the tombs we saw.

 It's a very hilly area, which only adds to the epic-ness of the scenery.

Unlike the tombs in New Orleans cemeteries (which actually contain the bodies, because burying them underground in a place with such a high water table means the bodies can rise to the surface during a flood), the interiors of these tombs mostly had sitting areas inside (so you can sit and be with your loved ones, we guessed?). The tombs had closed doors (like the red door with the star in the photo above), but a few were propped open or broken, and we could see inside. They pretty much all looked like the sets of horror movies.

In one section of the cemetery, two tombs in a row had their front doors broken down, and their stone floors (where the bodies are actually buried) busted in half so you could see straight down twenty feet or so into the ground. Marieke (Maggie's writing friend, who was visiting at the time) and Maggie both tried to take pictures. Maggie's camera gave a "Write Error" message and wouldn't save the photo, and Marieke's very fancy camera wouldn't take the picture at all. Then we heard a distinct knock from inside the next (sealed) tomb over, and decided it was our cue to move along.

In the photo on the right, we couldn't tell from a distance if this statue was supposed to be holding a sword or a drink. On further inspection, it was supposed to be a sword... what a let down.

The first of the famous tombs we saw was of the father of Spiritual Philosophy. It is supposed to be good luck to touch him, so we scratched him behind the ear (and Andrew picked his nose).

Oscar Wilde has one of the weirdest tombs. In contrast to the very ornate tombs in most of the cemetery, his looks to be inspired by some sort of Aztec winged deity. The glass case surrounding it is to stop people from kissing it, which appears to be a tradition. I think it also has something to do with the fact that someone broke off the poor chap's penis. Ouch.

Finally the most famous grave... and the least impressive.

Here lies Jim Morrison - his tombstone states that he went to Wilson Middle School (Andrew's Middle School in Albuquerque), died in Paris, and did some other things not worth mentioning in-between. (No, not really. But it really is very modest in comparison to most of them. Maybe another indication that he's not actually dead...?)

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