Monday, July 18, 2011

Paris - Cimetière du Père Lachaise

I've been to Pere Lachaise twice -- with my mother on trip number two to Paris and on my own on trip number three. My mom and I had a blast getting lost and attempting to find graves. And leaving flowers on Oscar Wilde's grave. I also have a fantastic memento of the trip -- a greyscale oil painting my mother did for me with the only color found in the flowers on Wilde's grave.

The second trip to the cemetery was also fun. On my last day in Paris, I packed up my things (I'd gone to Paris for a week with just my backpack and my purse!), and hopped on the metro to make my pilgrimage to Oscar's grave.

I took the metro right to the Pere Lachaise stop. I love the remaining Art Nouveau metro signs that you can still see around the city.

I saw several famous resting sites:

Sarah Bernhardt's grave. She was a French stage and early film actress. She was good friends with Oscar Wilde and he wrote her a play -- Salome, which was forbidden from being performed as being too scandalous. (I've read it. It's quite good.)

The grave (or at least where they are believed to be buried) of the famous French lovers Abelard and Heloise. They had a love affair and married in secret, a marriage that Heloise later denied in order to protect his career and she entered a convent at Abelard's urging. Her uncle had Abelard castrated and Heloise was forced to become a nun. Abelard became a monk, a lecturer and at one point a hermit while Heloise became an abbess. After his death, she cared for his remains until she died and was laid to rest beside him. Heloise herself was a brilliant scholar and spoke several languages.

And of course, the main reason most Americans visit Cimetière du Père Lachaise -- Jim Morrison's grave. There's a little fence in front of the grave so all admirers can do is toss flowers over.

Colette's grave. She was a novelist and performer, best known for her novel "Gigi". She was controversial throughout her career and many if not all of her books were considered scandalous. She also flaunted her lesbian affairs, and had heterosexual affairs as well. When she died in 1954, she was the first woman in France to receive a state funeral.

And finally, the reason I visited the cemetery --

Me in front of Oscar Wilde's grave, taken by a nice fellow tourist when they saw me attempting to get myself and the grave in a photo. If I'm in Paris, I have to visit his grave. I have a small, slight, little obsession with him. I mean I've just read all his plays, and his novel, and some of his poems and some of his stories and taken a class on him in college and wrote a senior research paper on him in high school and read biographies of him....Okay, maybe I'm more than a little obsessed...

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