The last time I was in Paris, I missed out on visiting Pere Lachaise because of my own bad planning. So this time around, it was the first thing that I did. After making my way into the city from the airport, I greeted David at the hotel with “So, are you ready to go to the cemetery?” I know, it is a wonder I am not invited to more parties with an attitude like that, right?
We headed over to the opposite side of town, and when we emerged from the Metro, we were greeted with ideal cemetery weather: overcast, misty, and breezy. Pere Lachaise was much larger than I imagined. I had imagined that we would saunter around and then happen upon the tombs of famed writers, singers, artists, and other luminaries. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was terrible at spotting the tombs of the greats. I was so blind that I missed the people who were even staring me back right in the face. I missed Proust, Oscar Wilde, Yves Montard, and basically everyone else except for these two:
That would be the graves of Edith Piaf and Colette, two pretty good storytellers in their own ways. Their graves were not as particularly flashy as some of the more ornate tombs.
In spite of my poor cemetery navigation skills, we had a pleasant walk. The pathways are tree-lined and shaded, so one cannot complain. It would be a lovely place to be buried, overlooking the city.
Convinced that I could do better if we visited another cemetery, we decided to give the Montparnasse cemetery a try. In my humble opinion, it lacks the beauty and setting of Pere Lachaise. Maybe I was expecting more from a place where Baudelaire is buried. Nonetheless, we began our visit with my own naive optimism that I would be able to actually locate the graves of famed Parisians this time around. It was easy enough to find Sartre and De Beauvoir’s grave, after all!
But as these things go, that optimism was misplaced, because sure enough, no map was able to guide me to the grave of Baudelaire. As someone who prides herself on a good sense of direction, my inability to navigate Parisian cemeteries still weighs very heavily on me.
We did stumble upon the grave of Serge Gainsbourg, though. Apparently, the Parisians are still really broken up about that one, because he by far had the most momentos placed on his tomb.
Finally, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention a sad passing of our own while we were in Paris. It was a sad moment when some newly purchased Laduree Macarons became a victim of the rain in Paris, breaking through a rain-soaked paper bag and ending up crushed in their box. We wept, Precious, we did (Sorry, we have been watching Lord of the Rings since we have been back).