Père Lachaise (Or, How I learned to share my birthday)

Rare non-grinning photo of me. My birthday outfit of Fifties rustic print cotton skirt and plain black strapless top, crochet shawl and vintage carved bone bracelet. Photo courtesy of Mr Brownwindsor.
We decided that my birthday should be a peaceful, wandering kind of day. And when you’re in Catholic European countries, often the most peaceful places to wander can be cemeteries. I find the architecture and atmosphere to be utterly intoxicating and spiritual; prompting the darkest and lightest thoughts in turn. I had only been to Montmartre before now, so we decided to take a turn around Père Lachaise. I knew Abelard and Heloise were re-buried here, and I’m rather fond of their story, so we sought out their grand tomb. Unfortunately, and as you can see below, it was covered in scaffolding. I’m sure it’s for a good reason, I just hope they get it sorted quickly.

That morning, as we discussed whose graves we would most like to visit, I expressed a distinct lack of interest in the real ‘destination’ graves, such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Not that I don’t like either gentleman’s work, but I’m not enough of a super-fan to wish to pay my respects. It then dawned on me. I’m more weirded-out by the glorious Brian Jones having died on my birthday, exactly ten years before I was born. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew Jim had also rather inconveniently breathed his last on the 3rd July. Those pesky rock stars. Then my mind wandered again to the fact that he died two years after Brian. Errr. That means he died forty years ago. Oh. God.

We decided that the cemetery was large enough to contain a horde of Doors fans and us, without either party meeting for very long. We just needed to avoid his section. Right? Well, Abelard and Heloise are buried near enough to Mr Morrison to ensure that we could hear the strains (literally, straining sounds) of people murdering his music. It was irresistable.

It was very tempting to stand in the middle of them all and have a ridiculous tantrum about the fact that Jim Morrison has stolen my birthday thunder, but I decided that they might not get the joke. So I learned to share, absorbed the strangeness, signed someone’s book, posed for a photo (let me know if anyone ever spots it online) and then we wandered off to find some more interesting graves.

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After chucking out time, we headed over to the Quartier Latin and (having decided we weren’t going to be able to find anywhere open or half-decent on a Sunday evening) ended up having a delicious meal at Brasserie Balzar. This establishment has been serving the intellectuals of The Sorbonne since 1886 and has, more recently, become something of a destination brasserie for tourists. I don’t feel too bad about the latter aspect, because we didn’t set out to eat there at all – it was positively accidental. We had a wonderful Kir Royale to celebrate (me, not Jim Morrison!) outside, while they freed up a table inside, and then demolished a wonderful meal. Special mention must go to the Îles flottantes I had for dessert. Lighter than air, I’m amazed they stayed put on the plate.

Photo courtesy of Mr Brownwindsor. I live in my crochet shawl during summer evenings… The one thing you can’t see in these photos is the beautiful pendant I was given that morning. I will give it its own special blog post soon!
Then a romantic, if occasionally stinky, walk by the Seine (complete with early Nineties dance music pumping out from someone’s ghetto blaster. Did we find some kind of wormhole in time? If so, I’d prefer it to be a good twenty years earlier, thanks.) and back to our lovely apartment on the Rue de Dunkerque.
I feel like we did loads, but I also worry that we were too lazy and didn’t see enough exhibitions (I would also highly recommend the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Cinémathèque Nationale, only open until the end of the month!) but that’s fine. We’ll just have to head back over very soon. Which is the best kind of holiday, always leave yourself wanting more.
Merci Paris!

Closest I could get to birthday-thunder-thief Jim Morrison

I’m sure this happens a lot. I still couldn’t help myself though.
Petit Serge!!!

It may not be Florence, but I still require a room with a view!
If you don’t buy my gear, one day I’ll probably take it for myself. Case in point, this dress has been on my site for ages and I finally caved in and wore it myself. I am going to keep it now. I love the colours and the cut (although it’s hard to see here). My ‘first day’ outfit. Photo courtesy of Mr Brownwindsor (whose photography skills are clearly superior to mine…).
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14 Comments on “Père Lachaise (Or, How I learned to share my birthday)”

  1. Frocktasia says:

    Hiya, It's so lovely to see some photos of you my dear :)I love Paris, it truly is a romantic city. Sadly I haven't been back for years which is kind of bonkers considering how easy it is to get there from London. Looks like you guys had a lovely time. The pic of you by the river is stunning, well done Mr Brownwindsor…excellent capture, I applaud you!Take care luv,JenniexXx

  2. I love Paris too .. my boys have just returned and I was so jealous of them going … I love the jacket/crochet shrug you are wearing with the dress.. I already like your page on facebook so its nice to put a face to it .. so to speak xx

  3. Mo says:

    looks like you had a wonderful time. I'm feeling very lucky that when I went to Père Lachaise it was quite empty. See you next week at the ballet if you are there. x

  4. Danielle says:

    Happiest of birthdays ! And what a fabulous place to spend it, ah sweet Paris …You look gorgeous in your own gear, a great way to promote your frocks !

  5. WendyB says:

    You didn't visit the tomb of Victor Noir? He's very special! 😀

  6. You wore a FIFTIES skirt on your birthday? *gaping*I love the eye rolling picture, it made me giggle xx

  7. Thank you everyone!!! xxxWendy, yikes!! I had never heard of Victor Noir before and now I can't believe I missed the opportunity to have a leer…Penny D, Ha! Yes, sometimes I do indeed wear things pre-1960. Dresses aren't so great for me, but a good full skirt with a plain top is something of a staple for me in summer!

  8. I get major nausea when people start doing this with Beatles songs like Hey Jude, so to hear it done to Doors songs is excruciating. The Doors fans spoilt my visit there too, just in the way they'd scrawled things on *other* graves that were near Jim's. 😦 😦 I left a pot plant for Mr Morrison and then wandered off in search of Yves Montand and Edith Piaf. I hope you managed to find a peaceful corner somewhere there.

  9. Happy Birthday! I plan on visiting Paris next year, but until then it's repeat viewings of Woody Allen's latest, Midnight In paris. *Sigh*

  10. Tarkus says:

    Paris is always wonderful (and so are you).

  11. Kiki says:

    Beautiful pics – you look so classy, and keeping up the stylish side of us oft-derided Brits in the capital of chic! Glad you had a wonderful, if shared, birthday. A treat to see un peu de Serge aussi! x

  12. Smashingbird says:

    I love your pics, you look sooo beautiful. xx

  13. A belated Happy Birthday you gorgeous thing xx

  14. Our trip to Paris is booked for this Summer, and I showed my wife this post; she was inspired by your shawl and "fruit" skirt. So I got her a shawl for Christmas…still looking for the skirt, though.I'm also excited about the Pere Lachaise visit, because poet Guillaume Apollinaire's grave is there.Now I'm as big a Doors fan as the next guy, but it would've been a lot more amusing if that "feast of friends" had been singing something more obscure; like, say, "When the Music's Over"! 😀


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