Another Day in Paris (Part 1)

And so begins day two of my stroll around Paris. This one was quite focused for the first half of the day as I was heading to the Pére Lachaise Cemetery, just a few kilometres from our apartment, to pay my respects to the last resting place of the Lizard King himself; Jim Morrison (if you don't know, google him!). 

As it was only a half-hour walk, or so, I decided to hit the streets and see what I could see along the way. The great thing about staying at an airbnb, rather than a hotel, is that you can very easily find yourself in the real parts of the city; not the tourist-traps. Within a few hundred meters, diligently following my phone's GPS, I found myself in a small but busy market, brushing shoulders not with other be-camered tourists but with locals going about their daily business.

  Shopping for flowers and vegetables; the residents of Paris' 19th arrondissement

Shopping for flowers and vegetables; the residents of Paris' 19th arrondissement

A little further and I am strolling along tree-lined avenues, past daintily-shuttered windows and brightly painted walls...

....unusual, space-efficient architecture...

...and strangely angular, 70's-stylised roundabouts.

Finally, I make it to the cemetery (with only a few wrong turns) and find myself transported to a strange city-within-a city; one filled with the bustle of every day life, the other quieted and subdued by the stillness of death.

  The gateway into Paris' hidden city

The gateway into Paris' hidden city

  The first mausoleum that greets you, once through the cemetery gates  

The first mausoleum that greets you, once through the cemetery gates 

I had no idea that the cemetery would be so huge and complex and soon realised that I could easily spend the entire day here, just wondering amongst the tombstones and catching the mottled light, breaking through the almost unbroken canopy of trees.

  The roundabout on one of the cemetery's main roads

The roundabout on one of the cemetery's main roads

Literally, like a small city, the cemetery has thoroughfares, side-streets, roundabouts and signposts.

  A smaller side-street in the City of the Dead and, below, some of the "homes" that line the streets

A smaller side-street in the City of the Dead and, below, some of the "homes" that line the streets

  Detail within one of the  more open mausoleums

Detail within one of the  more open mausoleums

Finally, I make it to Morrison's grave and, as I look at the diminutive structure that sits atop his body, almost hidden by larger, more impressive edifices, I have to wonder why this American rock-icon was buried here at all. I know that he died in the city beyond these walls, and I assumed that he had been buried here in order to afford him the ornate resting place that I'm sure he felt he deserved. And yet, here he is, small and unassuming, barely recognisable at all.

  When the music's over, turn out the lights

When the music's over, turn out the lights

After listening, bemused, to some of my fellow visitors discussing rumours that Morrison's body had actually been moved, then watching with amusement, as they found an excuse to climb over the barriers that surround the site for a more satisfying grave-side shot, I made my way out of the cemetery (via an American lady who, confusedly, professed that she had been abandoned by her husband, hours previously, as he sought Jim's grave) to meet with a relieved Sandrine, now freed form her obligations to the French education exam board. 

To be continued....

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