Wednesday: a scavenger hunt for the dead.
Thursday: a peek into dreams.
On Wednesday afternoon, I visited the Le cimetière du Père–Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris and the first garden cemetery in the world. Located in 20th arrondissement, Père–Lachaise is often overlooked by tourists because it is far from the center from Paris.
After visiting, however, I feel that it shouldn’t be, because I’ve never seen anything quite like it in my life.
The cemetery is a rather confusing place, both physically and abstractly. For one, although there are road signs, the cemetery is quite difficult to navigate. The cobblestone roads wind to strange places, tombs seem haphazardly placed (at all sorts of random angles), and sometimes it feels like you can keep walking forever without ever seeing another person.
Yet, its atmosphere was perhaps the most confusing part of the cemetery. Some points, it felt eerie and discomforting. At other times, I felt a strange combination of beauty and ethereality.
A number of famous people are buried Père-Lachaise (making their graves the main “attractions” of the cemetery). Finding them, however, is no easy task, but I was able to locate a decent number of them.
The grave of Oscar Wilde is one of the, if not the, most visited in all of Père-Lachaise. It is now encased with glass, as a strange tradition developed throughout the years, in which women would put on red lipstick and kiss the tomb afterwards, leaving behind countless “kiss marks.” The grave is now “kiss proof,” as people say.
The epitaph on the graph is a verse from Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.
Edith Piaf’s grave can be easily missed, as it’s hidden in the midst of many similar looking graves. Of course, there were people humming her signature La Vie en rose.
At this point, the sky suddenly burst open, and the pouring of rain began. Some visitors began to make their way out of the cemetery, hoping to find shelter and a warmer place. I’m not sure why, but the harder it rained, the more I was determined to find the rest of these graves, specifically those of three famous composers.
And I did, with soaked shoes, damp hair, and sore feet.
(Side note: The pictures are a little blurry because I took them in the rain. I almost slipped a number of times too, so I hope you can feel my dedication through these photos.)
On Thursday (another rainy day), I visited another underrated place: Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
I’m gonna bet that many of you know this place, even if you think you don’t.
No? Maybe this will ring a bell.
Aha! Now my blog post title makes a little more sense, doesn’t it?
The Pont de Bir-Hakeim crosses over the Seine. Not only does is the bridge itself amazing to look at, but it is also a wonderful spot for looking at the Eiffel Tower from a different angle.
(Side note: Congrats to the newlyweds!)
Beautiful isn’t it? What I’m absolutely loving about studying abroad in Paris is the opportunity to explore places that aren’t necessarily the “typical” tourist spots. I get the freedom to unveil these gems myself (and also discover amazing restaurants, very important).
Anyways, I think I’m gonna end my blog post here tonight, but not before I post these two pictures.
A bridge and a cemetery.
Similar, aren’t they?