Permanent Parisians

Truth be told, we’d meant to visit the Montmartre cemetery on our first day, but walked right over the top of it without realising. So this morning we decided we’d visit with some of the more permanent residents of Paris. As it turned out the day ended up as our parisian ‘day of the dead’.

And Montmatre cemetery is filled with the most remarkable people. Zola, Foucalt, The Ampere’s, Dumas, Nijinsky, Truffaut, Berlioz, Dalida, Stendahl, Fourier (a very modest tomb for a man who changed the world), Offenbach… The list goes on and on.

Ancient and crumbling graves, tree lined avenues, greening bronze and quiet cobblestoned streets. Beauty in decay and gentle ruin.

Emile Zola’s bust remains, though the french authorities have moved his body to the Pantheon. I tend to Balzac’s view of the french bureaucracy over that decision*.

The grave of Alexander Dumas (the son). Close by is the grave of Marie Duplessis, who inspired his work The Lady of Camellia’s, and in turn Dumas’s work inspired Verdi’s La Traviatta.

Then there’s the strange, who would expect to find one of the three gorgons guarding a tomb, and why?

Or crypts, oddly reminiscent of beehives.

Then there’s the statue of Nijinsky as Petrouchka. Another restless soul, his body was original interred in London in 1950 but then transferred to Montmartre in 1953.

The old and new, what once would have been a hand pump now does duty as a fountain.

*”The nosiest, most meticulous, most scribbling, red-tape mongering, list-making, controlling, verifying, cautious, and finally just the most cleaning-lady of administrations — past, present or future.”

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