Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 3, 2013. Errands and Pere Lachaise Cemetery

We had several errands today.  First, to get cell phones- which required 3 trips to stores.  We ended up with  basic flip phones- which will  provide basic communication between us here. 

We also needed to get train tickets for our trip to Chartes on Thursday.  We learned that there is a huge service charge to buy tickets online.  Then a visit to the train station- which is huge, but has good signs.  The ticket agent kindly informed us of the off peak times for travel when  seniors can get a 25% discount.  Here, seniors are called "troisieme age" or the third age of life.

The third errand was to a book store (W.A. Smith) to buy a couple of books.  The store is British owned- and includes a section of British food (including Heinz baked beans and many kinds of biscuits), and a large magazine section.  About 40% of the magazines were fashion. One quilt magazine. An indication to me of what women read here.
Then on to Pere Lachaise cemetery- which became famous in the US when Jim Morrison was buried there in 1971.  Rick Steves’ Paris book has a good map and descriptions of the famous residents.

Oscar Wilde’s marker is enclosed in glass to prevent people from leaving lipstick kisses. 

  Here is the sign.

People are not so good about honoring the sign.

Gertrude Stein’s grave was a bit of a challenge to find until I went down the row- cross, cross, cross, cross,cross, stones- and there it was.  One of the simplest in the cemetery.  I added a stone to her marker- lived her life as she chose and supported a lot of famous artists (Matisse, Picasso, and others)  in their early years.



There is a large area of monuments to WWII and other tragedies.
 A Czech monument to the victims of World War One.

A monument to the victims of Nazi concentration camps.

A monument to an unknown victim of betrayal and Nazi barbarism.

Another similar statue next to the previous one.

 A closer look

An interesting monuments, as are the following.




Grave of a nine year old boy.  Statue with his dog.

Edith Piaf's grave.

Moliere was the first celebrity in this cemetery.  I learned that he died while performing his play The Imaginary Invalid.  The audience was quite impressed with his performance, completely unaware that they were actually watching a man in the last hours of his life.

Jim Morrison’s grave was in the second row, making it a tight squeeze to get to between the markers in the front row.  When we were there, we saw 2 tour groups and numerous individuals at the grave- the biggest crowd we saw at any of the graves.  Including an older fellow with a bottle of whiskey, doing a poor imitation of Morrison. This grave, along with the ones adjoining it are surrounded by a tall fence to prevent vandalism.  It appears that determined fans still manage to climb over the fence and leave various items.  Wonderful music, a wasted life.


Chopin’s grave was lovely.  A grieving muse statue sits atop the tomb.  Even though he died 160 years ago, people continue to leave fresh flowers and tend the grave. 


There are also thousands of other graves.  I observed two funeral processions- with the car carrying the casket in front followed by the mourners, all dressed in black, walking behind.



The cemetery paths are all cobblestone- a good walk to strengthen your calves. There are Metro stops and restrooms near both entrances. 
We also walked over to see the Eiffel Tower, and locate our nearest Boulanger- to get our daily bread. It is around the corner.

The view two blocks from our apartment.

Our Metro station is so close to the next one that we can look down the tracks, and see the people on the next platform. 
Tomorrow, Al is off to his first French class and I will locate the first of the outdoor markets I plan to visit.


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