Père Lachaise (Or, How I learned to share my birthday)Posted: July 11, 2011
|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.
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.
Closest I could get to birthday-thunder-thief Jim Morrison
|I’m sure this happens a lot. I still couldn’t help myself though.|