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The Dark Side of Paris

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Cemeteries aren’t usually someplace I seek out, but the stories behind the Père LaChaise Cemetery in Paris had me eagerly looking for it the moment I arrived. The forest of tall trees, the deep silence, and the beautiful monuments make it hard to believe that a million Parisians are buried here. While many people visiting Père LaChaise are on the hunt for the gravestone of luminaries like Abelard, Balzac, Colette, and Molière, I love searching for the artistic sarcophagus and stunning sculpture monuments in the cemetery. It’s not just the winding lanes, cracked stone, and growing moss that transforms this resting place into a poetic haven. Loved ones from every social class spent money on erecting some memorable monuments to their dearly departed in the form of angels, busts, and even decorative tombs. Poets, writers, soldiers, and church bell ringers all lie side by side in this most democratic of Parisian districts. Finding specific names can be difficult, but when visiting Père LaChaise I prefer to wander the lanes and climb the tottering stairs aimlessly. Inevitably I come upon both famous and unknown heroes, most long forgotten, who made a difference to the city and the world in their way. Their epitaphs and histories make for interesting stories and always expand my understanding of Paris’ past. The lives that were lived by those now buried at Père LaChaise and the arresting memorials dedicated to them at this cemetery create a ruminative atmosphere. Père LaChaise becomes more than a Paris cemetery when I visit it; it transforms into a stoical commentary on life itself.

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10 replies »

  1. I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your
    post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Would
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    I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a
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  2. I do quite often check out the cemetery when I’m out and about, both in the Algarve and in Poland. They are so different than those in the UK. I can’t imagine that I’ll need anything so ornate when I’ve gone but they are beautiful to look at.

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