So when we last left off (and apologies for the lack of postings, it seems that now that I’m basically making my living as a blogger, that the blog where I got my blogging start as fallen to the wayside, hélas!), I had just arrived in Paris and spent a rather jet lagged day journeying around the city. Well, I got a whole night of sleep and felt millions of times better, but still woke up obscenely early. Since the apartment we were staying in was only a five minute walk from Pére Lachaise Cemetery, one of my favorite places to explore in Paris, I decided to go for a morning walk.
I’d never been in the old cemetery quite so early, just after its gates opened, and found that it was mostly full of old French men reading newspapers and eating croissants on benches, not really paying much mind to my ambling walk through the tombs. As the morning burned on there were more and more tourists, but for much of the walk I had the place to myself. Here are some of my favorite photos from the excursion:
This is a memorial for two balloonists who perished while trying to fly up too high. I wrote about their whole story here for Atlas Obscura.
The insides of the narrow mausoleums could be a bit unsettling.
Was this one the most unsettling?
Yes, it was.
Here is the grave of Felix Faure, once the president of France. I believe that’s the French flag draping over his body.
Some rather beautiful cats call the cemetery home.
This is the entrance to the “Aux Morts” (“To the Dead”) ossuary, which acts as the cemetery’s catacombs.
A shrouded angel (even the wings are covered, I think) grasping some cattails. Death keeping a hold on life? I read that the cattails are also a symbol of salvation.
This is the two-story 19th century columbarium. I heard that Maria Callas is interred here, but in the hundreds of plaques I did not see her.
I think this ill-looking face is supposed to be one of mourning, but it reminds me of Jacob Marley, a character who absolutely terrified me as a child with all the chains and face wrappings.
I don’t think there is much kneeling going on in these mausoleums anymore. I read that there are only 30 year leases that have to be renewed on gravesites (if not renewed, you go to that ossuary), but many of these seem to have been long forgotten by families.
This was something I had not seen before: a gravesite shaped like a military tent!
Graffiti at Jim Morrison’s well-traveled tomb. This is as close as you can get due to barricades. Although there was no guard there to stop you from jumping over…
This bas relief certainly caught my eye! It turned out to be on the tomb of Robertson, a famed innovator of phantasmagoria. I also wrote about this tomb for Atlas Obscura, so check it out and read about the conjuring of fake 18th century phantoms!
Robertson was also a balloonist.
After spending the morning wandering, I headed to a cafe for some much needed coffee. I love many things about Paris, but the constant proximity of cafes with strong coffee is definitely a highlight. That and the dense cemeteries for exploring, of course!