Saturday, 31 May 2014

Père Lachaise (Part 1)

Image from Wikipedia

Like most big cities, Paris got to a point where it was running out of real-estate and so they had to figure out what to do with the dead. Thank goodness for autocratic dictators like Napoleon, though, because in 1804 he created the first municipal garden-style cemetery. Père Lachaise would grow to become Paris' largest cemetery. Père Lachaise, Montparnasse and Montmartre cemetery were on the outskirts and became (not without a bit of work) the new chic places to be buried.

Wikipedia reports that the first person buried in the cemetery was Adélaïde Paillard de Villeneuve the daughter of a bell boy, but that she is no longer there as her concession expired.  It is cool that Napoleon decreed upon the opening of the cemetery that, " Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion." (It seems like gender was also included in this thought). Unfortunately because the ground wasn't consecrated, Catholic citizens didn't want to be buried there and it was difficult to convince people to sign on.  They had sold (or rented) only 13 plots in 1804, so they developed a better marketing scheme. If they could just get a few famous people to move into the neighborhood, then the oh so Chic French would be dying to get in. The best thing about the dead is they can't object to being used for crass commercialism, so they dug up Fonatine and Moliere and placed them in Père Lachaise with a fancy ceremony (and then in 1817 also brought in Heloise and Abelard) and all of a sudden (well, okay a few years later - it takes patience dealing with the wealthy French) people were lining up to get in.

Going to Père Lachaise is like going on a big treasure hunt. There is a big map at the entrance to tell you all the famous people (some of whom are more obscure than others).

 ….and then it is off to see how many of the famous people you can find.  I thought I had done pretty well until I got home and looked at the list again.

Here is all (not really) of the people I didn't get to see. (Images are from find a grave and sometimes wikipedia


(Seurat and Georges Bizet)

Gertrude Stein and Ledru-Rollin



 (I am sorry I missed Merleau-Ponty's grave (on the right))

This is Honoré de Daumier

And my biggest regret ws missing the grave of Georges Méliès!

But now on to the buried treasure I did find!

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