Sunday, 5 September 2010

A rather odd family

Ours is a somewhat odd family – we enjoy visiting cemeteries. Paris has given us two grand opportunities to indulge our pastime this year: Pere Lachaise in the January chill ...



and Montparnasse in July sunshine ...


See the purposeful and contented expressions as we spend a happy day tracking down our collective list of must-sees ...


And tracking down the dead takes commitment, endurance and stamina: these Parisian cemeteries are sprawling, labyrinthine and come with only the vaguest of guide-plans. (At Montparnasse, in fact, our request for a cemetery plan was met with a magnificent Gallic shrug of indifference and ‘Le plan?... Bof! … il n’y en a plus”).

So bravely we sally forth into this ...


each armed with our own agenda:

musicians and composers (Nich, obviously) …  Saint Saens, Fred Chopin...



literary types (elder daughter) ... Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde's kiss-studded tomb ...


and ...




cool dudes (moi) ... Jim Morrison 


 Serge Gainsbourg



and quirky miscellany (younger daughter) ... Man Ray, Charles Pigeon (inventor of the gas lamp) – who lies reading peacefully with his wife in my personal top favourite tombstone of all time -



 Surely the only way to spend eternity - cosied up in bed with a good book to read by the light of a gas lamp ...


 
But sometimes the unknown (to us) provide the most interesting (and surprising) experiences. Besides the moments of dark humour  (the Graves Family, the Bra soeurs or La Famille Adams  - yes, really), there are the bittersweet epitaphs ...



the unfinished epitaphs...



the guardians fierce-looking ...



bored-looking ...



frankly a little creepy-looking ...




and those who simply can't bear to look at all ...

(photo credit: Isabella Bicket)

There are the memorials grandiose ...



and those sadly neglected 

(photo credit: Isabella Bicket)

But mostly what you notice is everywhere the small touches of remembrance


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