Saturday, April 18, 2015

P = Père Lachaise Cemetery, French Faves - A to Z Challenge 2015

Walk softly here, many are resting. . .

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, by DG Hudson


P = Père Lachaise Cemetery
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

In the city of Paris, Père Lachaise Cemetery occupies 44 hectares or 110 acres. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it was the first municipal cemetery in Paris. It also contains many well-known personalities, a venerable list of the famous.



Family Tomb at Père Lachaise, Paris, by DG Hudson

The cemetery was bought by the city in 1804 and established by Napoleon the same year. As the graveyards of Paris filled, several other large cemeteries were established outside the precincts of the capital. Montmartre Cemetery in the north joined Père Lachaise in the east, with Montparnasse Cemetery in the south, and Passy Cemetery in the west, at the heart of the city.


Père Lachaise Cemetery had few occupants at first, but by arranging to bury a few notable citizens there, the area became more desirable as a final resting place. Some of the noteworthy citizens now are: Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Stephane Grappelli, Isadora Duncan, Chopin, and Camille Pissarro. There are many more on this list of those interred or cremated.  Scroll down the Wikipedia page to locate the list.

The rules for being buried in a Paris cemetery are rather strict: to be buried here a person must die in the French capital, or they must have lived in Paris.



Edith Piaf, Pere Lachaise, Paris, by DG Hudson

In order to gain more visibility for the cemetery, in 1817, the remains of Pierre Abelard and Heloise d'Argenteuil were transferred to the cemetery with their monuments canopy made from fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-Seine. By tradition, so it is said, lovers or lovelorn singles, leave letters at the crypt in tribute to the couple or in hope of finding true love for themselves. Ah, romance. . in Paris, it touches everything.

Today over one million bodies are buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery and many more in the Columbarium, which holds the remains of those who requested cremation (see below). Family tombs contain multiple burials to make the best use of limited space.



Isadora Duncan, Pere Lachaise, in Paris, by DG Hudson

The Communards' Wall (Mur des Fédérés) is also located in the cemetery. This is where 147 Communards, the last defenders of the workers' district of Belleville, were shot on May 28, 1871. The Paris commune was crushed on the last day of "Bloody Week".


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American singer/songwriter Jim Morrison's (The Doors) gravesite has been subject to crowds and some vandalism (as has Oscar Wilde's). According to Wikipedia, the lease of the gravesite was upgraded to perpetual by Morrison's parents, and is guarded to protect the site itself and others tombs nearby from ardent fans.



 Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France - CC*

NOTE: As we made our way through the cemetery, looking for and locating those gravesites we wanted to pay respects to, we were approached by a man who offered to show us around the cemetery and claimed to be an expert in helping those who couldn't find the sites they sought. We declined. My imagination ran rampant afterwards though. What if he was a descendant of the communards who were finished off here?  Or a ghost of the cemetery? Or could he have been trying to lure unsuspecting tourists to another location?  We'll never know, but I can live with that. He gave us no trouble, and we went out the main entrance and down the hill.


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Have you heard of Père Lachaise Cemetery? Or have you visited other famous cemeteries to pay homage to a particular person? Do you find cemeteries interesting or creepy? 


Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by, and if you are part of the A to Z Challenge. I'll be sure to check your blog, and reciprocate. If you're not in the challenge, thanks for stopping by to visit! I try to reply to all comments.

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The A to Z Blog Challenge is brainchild of Lee, at Tossing It Out.  Please visit the A to Z blog site to find out more information and the participant list.  There are also Twitter and Facebook presences if you want to check those!




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References:

DG's previous post on Père Lachaise Cemetery
http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2012/01/paris-pere-lachaise-cemetery.html

Wiki on Père Lachaise Cemetery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A8re_Lachaise_Cemetery


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IMAGE: Grave of Jim Morrison, Paris, France*CC = Creative Commons
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  By SuzanneGW

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Pierre Abelard and Heloise d'Argenteuil - the story

http://sacred-texts.com/chr/aah/index.htm The story of love between a nun and her teacher, a noble lecturer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A9lo%C3%AFse_d'Argenteuil Wiki

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26 comments:

  1. Hi DG - I haven't visited many cemeteries and tend to go to churchyards ... Highgate Cemetery is one of our best known ones in London. But I'd love to visit these .. and see some of the memorials etc ... just being in a graveyard means peace and solitude to me ... and we are making the most of our churchyards now and offering other forms of burial - woodland ones ... as well as cremation ... my mother was cremated and then we sprinkled her ashes at her Church in Cornwall amongst the plants she loved and in view of St Michael's Mount.

    The stories we can glean with our imaginations from cemeteries, graveyards etc ... and the history lessons from the famous being buried or cremated there .. I wonder what your chap was about .. probably an innocent ... but who knows .. again a story or two ..

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. I wonder about that guy, too. It was strange, yet he came and went so silently. btw, my mother's ashes were distributed in a river of her choice. Ditto for FIL. However Mil's ashes were retrieved and buried in a First Nations cemetery by request of her birth family.

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  2. I have been a cemetery admirer from a very young age- I find them calm, historic, the reminder that your story will have an end and so must be pursued with integrity and energy. Should I visit Paris, Pere Lachaise would be high on the sightseeing list. I had heard of it, mainly due to the famous occupants, Edith Piaf and Isadora Duncan in particular.

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    1. Those two ladies are two favourites of mine, so glad you know about them. I wanted to see Oscar Wilde's tomb and I wrote about that at the link on his name in the post above. I like seeing the traditions in such an old cemetery. The idea of leaving a stone or a trinket to show you were there to pay your respect. I did see Oscar's tomb before it was enclosed. . .

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  3. Cemeteries are pretty amazing places. I have to go to a local one soon, for a bit of research.

    I kind of hope the man who approached you was a ghost - that would be a cool story :-)

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

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    1. Well, Annalisa, the way he appeared seemingly out of nowhere made the experience a little surreal. We didn't hear him coming and it's all cobblestones in that cemetery.

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  4. Lovely pics! I've always been attracted to cemeteries. I may be doing a writing assignment in Paris. I'll have to pick your brain if I do.

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    1. I'd be glad to help if I can, Sean. Depends on what you're picking for, of course. Your travel articles are always interesting. I'm attracted to cemeteries too, but not at night. . .

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  5. If your posts were my French Class in school nobody would miss it. I'm loving your posts and can't wait to read more.

    The Capillary
    Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge
    http://thecapillary.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks, Christiana, I'm glad you're enjoying them. It's fun to share what I've learned and use some of my photos in the process. I've also read quite a few books by French writers (translated of course) and about the city of Paris itself. The Greater Journey and Parisians are two of them I'd recommend.

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  6. Reading this post was a pleasure. A visit to France is on my bucket list, and I do find old cemeteries interesting. I've been to the cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, where Emerson and Thoreau are buried.

    Thanks for visiting my blog on the A to Z Challenge.

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    1. Thoreau is one of my heroes. And Massachusetts is a place I've wanted to visit as well. There is so much history in France, but it's the best way to learn about any location.

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  7. I had the opportunity to go on our last afternoon in Paris when we had free time...one of the chaperones wanted to see Jim Morrison's grave. But I was so incredibly exhausted that I stayed at the hotel and napped. I regret that now.

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    1. We all have a few regrets, but I hope to keep that number low. . .Edith Piaf said it well: Non, je ne regrette rien (No, I regret nothing)
      When we are young, we miss a chance here and there.

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  8. Such an elaborate and coldly beautiful place.

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    1. It feels like its own city, with little streets of cobbled stone, and some tombs like little chapels. It is beautiful but also full of surprises.

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  9. I've been there, but didn't find my way around many of the famous graves. Loved the sculptures. It's an amazingly large plot of land. I love Mark Pryor's Paris Hugo Marsden thrillers, one of which incorporates Pere Lachaise (The Crypt I think). Next trip, I intend to give this cemetery the time it deserves.

    Hope all is well in your world, D.G. (I'm just still trying to get ahead of the melanomas and get my Paris novel into first draft!)

    Denise :-)

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    1. Get a map of the layout, Denise, then it's not hard to find the sites you want to see. It's is a good walkabout. Things are fairly calm in my neck of the woods right now; I'm behind on my writing novels, though. Good Luck with the melanomas and the Paris novel. If I can help you in the launch with a feature, let me know.

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  10. Cemeteries are fascinating. P is for Popping by to say congrats on passing the 1/2 way mark on your A to Z journey.

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    1. Thanks and back at you. Your blog is interesting and I liked the O letter image too. I like to visit cemeteries, but in the daytime. Although night photos might be fun. . .or not.

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  11. I like the idea of a ghostly cemetery guide... Great post, DG!

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    1. I could be okay with that, it was daytime then, but getting towards dusk. No sense tempting the spirits of Paris. . .

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  12. I find cemeteries fascinating. And bewildering. Why? Because every time I think about cemeteries and the number of folks resting there... I wonder where are all the other bodies? I mean everyone who's died since the beginning of time. Are they underneath the ground? Do we just keep building on top of our oldest cities. Having been in Rome where they discovered an entire ruin underneath the city makes me think this is not impossible. How many cities are underneath where we all walk now? In a thousand years will all of our cemeteries be completely covered over with new towns, cities, and people walking on them... not even knowing. And that's what I think about as I visit a cemetery.

    Well, that and the fact that a marker is all that's' left of a life. A marker.

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    1. I do think we are layered somewhat in our civilizations. We don't know what's below us when the soil and time have covered it up. That's why they recently found Richard III's skeleton under a public area in London. Did you read about that? When settlers come they don't know about the history, the winners in a battle don't care about who care before, they bury them in mass graves. At least Paris keeps their old bones in the Catacombs. It's definitely a deep thought, Robin. You may be more sensitive than most to cemeteries. . .

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  13. I find cemeteries fascinating and have visited many. It never occurred to me that someone would encourage the burying of celebrities in their cemetery to make it more popular. How odd! I figuremost people are buried in family groups in a place that holds some importance to them and their family. It would also seem important to people to be buried someplace where there yet livingloved ones could conveniently visit. I never once thought about where I would be buried. I can be buried for free in the cemetery of a small mountain town in Colorado where I once provided municipal service. I don't supposeit really matters where the final resting place or bones is located, but more where our spirits will reside.

    I don't think it's in possible at all to run into those law spirits who still under the earth in the cemetery.

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    1. It's the spirit that counts, and there is much we don't understand in that regard. I remember visiting old Civil War age cemeteries in the south in little towns. Some of the flat markers had started to crumble - a little creepy but sad, too.

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