Fridays in France: Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris
It’s almost Halloween, my lovelies, and the spooky spectrals are ready to boogie! For today’s Fridays in France series, I wanted to take you to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, one of Paris’s most famous – and most haunted – locations. It is said the phantoms roam freely here…as do the tourists. And behind each elaborate crypt is a fascinating story of fame, fortune, love and tragedy.
Join us, if you dare. Mwah-ha-ha-haaaa (my attempt at an evil laugh – did it work?)
The Pensive Woman at the entrance to the tomb of Famille Gamichon has become quite famous over the years. It is believed that this tomb’s inhabitants include François Auguste Gamichon, the original founder of Parisian lingerie company Chantelle. Ironically, the Pensive Woman is sans bra. Coincidence? Hmmm….
Try as I might, I couldn’t find any information on Xavier and Stephanie Jericot. But their grave is lovely, simple, and draped in a copper blanket. So, ya know, they will sleep happily eternally after.
The crypt of the family Ponsat are guarded by two bronze, weeping caryatids. Part of the Ponsat clan buried here is Jean Baptiste Ponsat, who died in 1808 at the age of 72. His wife, Anne, was seven years older than he (quite the cougar!), and joined him in the cemetery in 1820 at the ripe old age of 92.
In life, Auguste Burdeau was a workaholic. The politician and professor was said to have died in 1894 of pure exhaustion. Glad to see he’s finally at rest.
The grave of one of France’s most revered singers, Edith Piaf. Her most famous ballad is La Vie En Rose, known worldwide an an informal national anthem for France.
Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, is another celebrity-in-residence at the Pere Lachaise. HIs is probably the most interesting grave in the neighborhood, as fans continue to leave unique tokens of affection and poetic graffiti.
The brilliantly witty (and sexually adventurous) author/poet Oscar Wilde is also entombed here, following his death in 1900. Admirers often kissed his grave, which I personally think is a fabulous tribute. Sadly, the stone is now scrubbed clean and encased in glass to maintain its pristine appearance. *kiss*
The final resting place of writer George Rodenbach is, perhaps, the most haunting zombie-like image. Apparently, he wanted to remind the world that even death could not contain him.
I find the tomb of François-Vincent Raspail to be one of the creepiest. For all eternity, the doctor/politician will have this cloaked entity hanging around.
But in life, the good doctor believed in the healing power of liquor, publishing the “the elixir Raspail” : four fingers of brandy (or Armagnac) + 2 fingers Crémant de Loire. Pour directly into a flute, cognac and Crémant. Stir gently with a spoon. Enjoy very slowly.
Perhaps the hanger-on is simply hung over?
A cemetery is probably not a place for inappropriate touching, but let’s just say journalist Victor Noir is, in death, a connoisseur of the happy ending. Challenging the Prince to a duel proved to be his demise, and poor Victor was to be remembered forever in his death state. But over the years, he’s become an unlikely symbol of romance and visitors flock to rub his rather prominent bulge. It’s said a single woman who buffs his beef and drops a flower in his hat will find a husband within a year.
Might be worth a try.
And speaking of happy endings…
Au revoir! Bon Weekend!