The Literary Cemetery

I’ve been browsing the blog for the Literary Cemetery, which catalogues (with photos) the death and burial information for literary personalities. As with all such things, it’s a work in progress (and I will admit to being disappointed that there was nothing for Lord Byron). However, a good cross-section of French writers are there, including Sartre, Camus, Victor Hugo, and others. I’ve made a list, so I can decide which cemetery(ies) to visit next year.


The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 11: My Trip to Paris (3)

Oh, my third day in Paris was a lot of fun!

Beauvoir / Sartre Grave (Montparnasse)After a nice lie-in, we went to the Cimetière du Montparnasse. There are hundreds of famous people buried here (including the chess great Alekhine, philosopher Baudrillard, Charles Baudelaire, Guy de Maupassant, and Man Ray), but of course, I was here to see the grave of Sartre & Beauvoir.

The cemetery is huge and we covered as much as we could, though we had trouble finding some of the graves we wanted to see. We found Baudelaire’s monument, but not his grave, for instance. However, we did manage to find several others. Mostly I like to visit graveyards to see what sort of grave art has been used. Unlike lots of cemeteries here in western Canada, European cemeteries have far more interesting grave monuments. Mausoleums are almost completely unheard of here. However, in Montparnasse, there were many. We even had to take shelter against one when the sky opened up and poured down on us. (We had, of course, forgotten to take an umbrella.)

Montparnasse cemeteryRather damp, we left the cemetery to go tour the Catacombs. Yes, from one bunch of dead people to another… though the Catacombs are an awful lot of bones, and it’s not even close to the same. Creepier by far. (However, it’s also one of the cheapest attractions I saw in Paris – only €2,50.)

Before that, we had a bite of lunch at a café, and I had the misfortune to eat some crevettes (shrimp) that were a bit off. By the time we got to the Catacombs, I was starting to feel ill. Not the best way to start a tour of human remains. In my journal, I note ‘Well, if you’ve seen one pile of bones you’ve seen them all’, and after awhile it did seem that way. The photo below is the section of bones from the old Les Innocents cemetery. Being an Anne Rice fan (with many references to the cemetery in Interview With the Vampire), I couldn’t resist.

The Catacombs

At the exit, our bags were searched. I hadn’t realized until then that people would try to steal bones. It didn’t even enter my mind. I did remark to my mother that it would be rather interesting to go back in time, if only to tell those people who expected to be buried at Les Innocents and the other graveyards that their bones would in the future become the basis of a major tourist attraction. Immortality? Peut-être.

(And, the perfect ending to my day? Seeing an ad for Vittel featuring David Bowie. Awesome!)