Pere LaChaise

“J-em morris-N?”

The man was younger than I, maybe, not dirty, but he had the appearance of being close to the street as he clutched his plastic shopping bag. He asked the question again.

“J-em morris-N?”

The stroll through Pere LaChaise had been in near solitude. It was early, about 9:30am on a Tuesday morning. The two guards at the gate on Blouevard Menilmontant did not seem to notice us as we studied the map at the entrance of the 118 acre cemetery and made notes of sites we wanted to visit, Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde's burial sites among others.

We hadn't walked very far up the first wandering cobblestone drive before we determined how helpful a second look at that map would be, and since I had made a photo of it, Hannah studied it closely. Still, even though we knew Morrison was in section 30, section 30 was thick with tombstones and crypts and vaults.

My experience with cemeteries are neat rows of markers or tombs all facing the same direction - east - awaiting the Second Coming. If those cemeteries are like long rows of neatly planted corn stalks, then Pere LaChaise is a thicket of scrub under a great oak hammock, with winding cobblestone walks bordering irregularly shaped, but well numbered sections. We wandered on in more than a little awe looking for section 30.

We came to a fork in the path and a guide appeared.

“J-em morris-N?”

“Oui,” we replied.

We were close, but would not have found it without the guide. The marker is low compared to the others around it and seems tucked behind larger and older crypts. Lauren thanked the guide by answering a couple of his questions about us before he departed, off, between the vaults, and Hannah conversed with a cat perched on a nearby vault.

We agreed that the cat was the reincarnated Jim, watching over the site, and I speculated that the guide was the ghost of a Doors roadie.

At another fork in the road we paused, not determined to go in any particuar direction when a women, pulling weeds raised up and asked "Delacroix?" to which Lauren replied "Oui, Merci." The woman pointed up one of the paths, took her rake and walked away.

Just the day before Lauren had paused in he Louvre to look into the big, big scale paintings the French Romantic created. The pause at his tomb was a fine way to thank rge artist for hs art, especially when guided there by a gardner woman.

By the time we arrived at Oscar Wilde’s tombstone, the solitude of Pere LaChaise was being eroded. We slowed our pace, circled at a distance allowing a couple from somewhere in America and a large lady in pink chiffonesque drapery to drift away. We then eased in for our own time.

Hannah studied the inscriptions, notes, flowers, trinkets and thousands of kisses left on the massive art deco block, and then planted one of her own.

We left by way of the gate on Rue Des Rondeaux, passing several florist shops, thinking what a great location.

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