Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cemeteries and Catacombs

We decided to travel a little farther afield to day, taking the Metro out of the center of the city. Our choices were oddly connected in theme, while in opposite directions.

The Metro
 Our first stop was the Pere-Lachaise cemetery, a noteworthy attraction for both the famous people buried there and for the spectacular monuments. You feel more like you are walking through a small city than a cemetery. It is probably one of the few places in Paris where there isn't a lot going on after 9:00 at night.


Holocaust Memorial

Jim Morrison

We found a few famous folks which is kind of a challenge, the organization of graveyards is pretty chaotic almost everywhere and Pere-Lachaise is no exception. It is a good thing that the people you are looking for don't move around too much.

After touring the cemetery for a bit and having lunch with Gertrude Stein, we grabbed a coffee and Orangina at a bar and then caught the Metro to the Catacombs across town.


The Catacombs were originally limestone quarries. In an effort to consolidate space and reduce health risks from dead bodies piling up all of the cemeteries in the center of the city were dug up and the bones were relocated and stacked up in the catacombs. The skeletons from countless folks are piled up down there in all sorts of patterns. There aren't many rules at the attractions in Paris, this place did have one – in the areas with the skeletons no flash photography. Which makes for pretty crummy color photos, but they are OK in Black and White. We figured that it is not out of respect as the operators claimed, after all the dead folks have already been dead, forgotten, relocated, and turned into a tourist attraction, how much respect does no flash really afford them at this point. It is our opinion that they simply don't want to take a chance on waking up the dead.

 There was also a lot of information (mulch-lingual) about the formation of the limestone deposit when the area was under sea. Apparently there was a variety of snail that was over two feet long in the area, from which there were several fossils found. Just think if they were around in France today, eating these snails would be like Thanksgiving!

Biggest Snail around

After supper we finished off the day with a walk along the river at sunset. We walked back past the cafes and restaurants with their Friday night crowds. It was great.


Friday night

We hope you are all well.

More Pictures at this Picasa Link.

Stephen & Linda

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