Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Cemetery called 'Le Pere Lachaise', Paris

This tableau greets visitors as they arrive at the cemetery.

One of many winding walkways

Rows of mausoleums, the one now white has recently been restored.

The largest mausoleum, near the crematorium, has two levels above ground.

This mausoleum also has one level slightly below ground.

"You and I"

The most simple, yet most self-assured marker I have seen.

Nobody seems to know who Leilah Mahi was, but
many have photographed her picture.

Is this the same guy?
A painter otherwise unknown to me.
Upper portion of Chopin's grave.

A gentleman honouring the memory and work of Allan Kardec

Many like to photograph Edith Piave's family tombstone.
"God reunites those who love each other." I have the complete
recordings of this wonderful singer.

There are many sweet words, but was this brother
equally loved in life?

The grave may be here in perpetuity, but will anybody tend it?
Small seeds often destroy sturdy tombs.
One of hundreds of service paths
Looking at a rusted iron grill behind broken glass,
seeing it through a hole broken in the back of this mausoleum.
Once stately, this expensive mausoleum now lacks a working door and stained glass window.

The Eastern Cemetery called Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (or simply Père Lachaise) is the most famous graveyard in Paris and one of the best known in the world. It spreads over more than 100 acres and is walled in the manner of a medieval monastery. When you encounter people selling maps outside the cemetery, you know you will soon be entering a labyrinth of tombs, walkways, paths and streets. The land was protected from city expansion by the Jesuits who built several buildings, retaining the rest of the land as woods and park. But they were suddenly expelled after someone tried to assassinate Louis XV, the land changed hands and Napoleon I eventually purchased the property, turning it into the Eastern Cemetery.

This cemetery has also become a park for thousands of visitors. There are many roads running through the cemetery, all paved in cobble stones and lined on both sides with tall stately trees which were undergoing their spring prunning during my visit. The grave sites seemed somewhat crammed together, though possibly no more so than in Canada. The custom is to cover each plot somehow with large horizontal stones or possibly even small buildings. I was intrigued by the little family mausoleums which covered one, two or more plots. These expensive stone structures reminded me of ancient Greek treasuries lining the road to some sacred place on a mountainside. Some of these mausuleums are still in good repair, others have doors which have rusted through or no longer close, stained glass windows at the back which are either in need of a good cleaning or are broken, and walls which need attention. I appreciated one grave that was particularly well-tended, even though the gentleman died nearly a century ago, but so many other more recent graves obviously lack loving visitors.