To Die For

10 Apr
Babar, Le Voyage

Ah, Babar! Now that's the way to travel.

In Paris there is a cemetery named Pere Lachaise.  It’s the size of a small city (118.6 acres, I checked) and it has 300,000 in habitants.  That’s almost the population of Sarajevo (I checked that, too).  That’s not including the many others who were cremated.  It is one of the most frequently visited cemeteries in the world.  It is that way by design.  When there weren’t enough funerals taking place here they moved some notables in such as the playwright Moliere and the doomed lovers, Heloise and Abelard.

We plan to visit Pere Lachaise while in Paris.  We’re not alone.  Thousands of visitors flock to this same cemetery every year and not all of them are there for Jim Morrison either.  (But if you wanted to see “Jeem’s” grave then you don’t need to visit.  AllPosters.com will happily sell you a picture of it.)  A whole city of famous dead people awaits for you there, if you’d like to pay tribute.  This site has a map and a listing of where the famed are laid to rest.

I’ve got a list running, of course, and here’s who is on it thus far:

  • Baron Haussmann – this 19th century architect is responsible for the wide avenues of Paris, such as the Champs Elysee,  that are often copied by other city designers.
  • Victor Hugo – I do not hold him responsible for that darn Les Miserables monstrosity of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s any more than I hold Stan Lee responsible for what U2 is currently doing to Spider-Man
  • Sarah Bernhardt – I read that Oscar Wilde said to Bernhardt, when she asked if she could smoke, “I don’t care if you burn”.  But then he went and wrote Salome in hopes she’d perform it… so maybe that’s one more Oscar quote for the quotations books
  • Edith Piaf – I’m reading a biography right now to earn the privilege of visiting her grave
  • Oscar Wilde – I’m reading a biography on him, too.  I’m also a theater major so it feels almost required to visit Wilde and Bernhardt to get a passing grade.
  • Sophie Blanchard – first professional female balloonist and, sadly, the first woman to die in an aviation accident
  • Jean de Brunhoff – author of Babar the Elephant!
  • Marcel Marceau – The world’s most famous mime.  Hate the game, not the player
  • Georges Mileu – Director of A Trip to the Moon and responsible for the best cheese sculpture
  • Yves Montan – actor, singer, Piaf’s ex
  • George Seurat – I like a Sunday Afternoon in the Park with George but that’s not why I like the artist.  I like him for his art.  Shocking, I know.

I know that there are magnificent World War I memorials there, as well.  I remember them being very powerful for me even though I didn’t know much about this war at the time.  Which reminds me, I still don’t.  Except for Franz Ferdinand being more than a band, that’s about as far as I’ve got.  I hear the library calling… and this time it’s not about late fees!

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2 Responses to “To Die For”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Forever: A Film by Heddy Honigmann « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/06/12

    […] personal.  The film Forever shows the life of a cemetery, Paris’s famed Pierre Lachaise.  As I mentioned before, we are planning to visit this cemetery when we are in France.  And in this film you see many […]

  2. The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde – Joseph Pearce « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/06/22

    […] value of publicity; good, bad and ugly.  He was born an Irish boy, schooled as a English lad and died as a Parisian.  His life was a work of art and he lived a life that still captivates us today over a hundred […]

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