Carnavalet and Père Lachaise
Trip Start Jun 30, 2011
11Trip End Aug 01, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
This is What I Don't Like: Wandering around in circles trying to find a rock with a dead person's name engraved on it and it's hot outside and there isn't enough shade and everything looks the same so you can't figure out where you are and the map doesn't make any sense.
Today I did exactly what I had set out to do which was go to the Musée Carnavalet and then go to Père Lachaise cemetary.
I really think it's wonderful how there are so many free museums in Paris..
My favourite section of the museum was the wing on the French Revolution. There were many amazing paintings and artifacts,... my favourites were old flags and tapestries,... "la liberté ou la mort" type of stuff. I was looking at the tiny little stitches, and it reminded me what I love about history. Someone's hands made this. People fought for the meaning behinds these words. Those who went before us gave us what we have today, and we will hand off something to the next generation
If anything, the visit reminded me that I really, really need to brush up on my French history.
I am not exactly sure why the Père Lachaise cemetary is the third most-visited tourist attraction in Paris, but that is what someone told me today when I was there. It's just a huge cemetery. With some famous people buried in it. There are THOUSANDS of tombs and maybe only a dozen or so belonging to people I've even heard of. Like I said yesterday,... it's one of those things people do when they are in Paris, so I went. Also because Nat Small asked me to go write her name on Jim Morrison's tomb.
The cemetery itself is really off the beaten track, way out in eastern Paris pretty close to the Périphérique. On the walk from the metro I saw a lot of young guys with long hair wearing "The Doors" t-shirts. So you walk into the cemetery and it is SPRAWLING. I mean, I felt lost within 30 seconds of walking in. Plus which, it's sort of hilly, so you can't see any of the other exits and it has a very claustrophobic feeling, even though I guess it's spacious enough.
Some of the monuments are truly stunning, I have to say
Have I made it clear how BIG this place is?
Because I was feeling sort of overwhelmed from the get-go, I kind of skulked behind a group of people who looked like they were walking around with a purpose. Of course, this lead me to the grave of none other than the frontman of The Doors, Jim Morrison. There were maybe a dozen other people there, and a security guard. (This explains why I didn't get to write Nat's name on anything.) The grave is actually blocked off with guardrails so you can't get too close and it's some dude's job just to stand there and make sure no one does anything,... illegal, I guess. There was a half-full bottle of Jack on the tomb, and some candles and some flowers.
The next tomb I went to was the joint monument for Abelard and Heloise, the famous French medieval lovers who ended up becoming a nun and a monk, etc. It's a lovely, romantic, sort of gruesome story that reminds me of being in Liberal Arts. Who doesn't like a story about star-crossed lovers. Anyhow, they say that if you leave a note at the tomb, Abelard and Heloise will help guide you to your true love. So I left a note.
From there I went to Chopin's grave (really pretty), Sarah Bernhardt, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Proust and then, sort of the highlight of the visit, the tomb of Oscar Wilde.
I've got to hand it to Oscar-- his monument is of the "Go Big or Go Home" variety. It's very unique, and stands out amongst the others. Not only for the fact that it's covered in lipstick. The style is very modern and sort of pre-art deco, and it has an almost Egyptian-like angel on it. People have written all over the monument in Sharpie and in lipstick, and it's kind of fun, although like I said yesterday, it must be disgustingly full of germs. But it was nice, somehow.
...I ended up finally finding my way out of the cemetery, and by that point I was bone tired and kind of overheated. So I came back to Montmartre by bus, and ended up seeing some very modern, residential neighbourhoods on the edges of the city that I would have never seen otherwise, so it was good that I didn't take the metro!
And then I had supper, and now I am going to bed. It just rained, so it's nice and cool in the apartment. The bell tower of Sacre Coeur is lit up against the grey sky. It's beautiful.
I don't know what I will do tomorrow... any suggestions?