Aside from shopping for prunes, day three was a good one for me because it involved a cemetery. Yes, a cemetery. I happen to love cemeteries, especially when they contain writers, artists, and historical figures from the historical periods with which I'm enchanted. Last year when David and I visited England Highgate Cemetery was at the top of my list of things to see.
This year was no different, only we were visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery in the Southeastern part of Paris. PL Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, and it happens to hold the remains of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Chopin, and many more, including two famous nineteenth-century physiologists whose work I write on in my dissertation.
David does not understand my fascination with cemeteries and graves, but he indulges me and comes along like a good husband.
What I love about old cemeteries, especially those in Europe, is their grandeur. Père Lachaise is no exception, as the cemetery is perched on a slight hill, so that you approach it from below and it slowly rises into your view in all of its massiveness.
Like the cemeteries in the city of London, Paris's cemeteries were major urban projects that took planning (i.e. how many cemeteries for the whole city, how big should they be, in which districts should they be placed, etc., etc.), and I think this is part of the reason why they are such monuments still. Also, I should add, cemeteries used to be a much bigger deal simply because people used and visited them more often. Families bought entire plots of land for their family members, and thus visiting the cemetery was about visiting dead family members as well as a piece of property that was part of the family legacy.
You can see the significance that was associated with the cemetery and the graves in it just by looking at the grave stones and monuments put up by different families and people. Here are a few of my favorites:
|This is positively terrifying, yes?|
As you can imagine, many of these grave stones would've been quite expensive, making them only affordable for the very wealthy. In fact, when we were Highgate Cemetery in London last year, the cemetery keeper told us that some patrons would spend thousands of pounds on virtual compounds for their loved ones.
And finally, a shot of one of the pathways through the cemetery...love, love, love!!!
After the cemetery, we headed North towards Sacré-Coeur, which is probably most famous for being in the movie Amelie.
Before it was the site of Audrey Tautou's rise to global stardom, however, Sacré-Coeur was just a regular old church (albeit fancy and beautiful) in the Montmartre area of Paris. Montmartre is set on a hill at the highest point in Paris, so not only is the view of Sacré-Coeur pretty breathtaking, but so is the view from Sacré-Coeur.
|I believe the phrase is "Oh la la!"|
Whew! Trucking right along here! I know I said yesterday that today I'd be discussing our trip to the Louvre, but I think that might have to wait so I can share what we did after visiting Sacré-Coeur.
More sightseeing, of course! We had to visit Notre Dame, right??! We ended up seeing Notre Dame twice--once, the first time, at night, and another time during the day. I'd have to say that the night-time visit was a bit more special. There are low lights gleaming up at the gothic spires and the church just looks magical and a bit menacing!
Sorry for the poor lighting photos. This was a night-time service at Notre Dame, and though it meant that we couldn't wander about the church I was glad that it was going on during our visit. I actually almost cried, because the inside of Notre Dame smelled exactly like my childhood church. Is that weird, or what? Despite all the old memories, I didn't feel compelled to return to my Catholic roots by taking communion. I should've asked if in France communion wafers are made with butter though. That might've altered my decision. Sorry to blasphemy, y'all.
After Notre Dame we stopped by the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, where James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound used to chill:
And then on to La Grenier de Notre Dame, which is a vegetarian restaurant just a block from the bookstore and the church. In case it isn't obvious, there are not a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Paris. In Paris, they like foie gras, roasted chickens, duck, and beef. So we were glad to find La Grenier, and to find ourselves already so close to it.
We started with a lentil soup that was a bit runny but well flavored,
Followed by a tofu veg plate
And a seitan veg plate:
Both of our entrees were good. Not life-changing, but a really nice break from eating what felt like only bread, butter, or cheese.
So, of course, we had dessert. Actually, an older Belgian gentleman whom we'd struck up a conversation with during dinner told us we had to order dessert. Apparently he comes to Paris just to get books on hypnotherapy, and on every trip he makes time to go to La Grenier for dinner and dessert. We had the caramel crepe, which was, of course, really good. Even better? The caramel ice cream. I thought David was going to lick the plate for sure.
OK, so I'm going to leave off here and start with the Louvre tomorrow. I'm kind of enjoying looking back through all these photos and memories, but would someone please let me know if you all are getting tired of these long posts about Paris? I could definitely shorten these suckers down if no one is interested.
*How do you feel about cemeteries?