Home » Europe » Pere-Lachaise and Parc des Buttes Chaumont

Pere-Lachaise and Parc des Buttes Chaumont

With the recent heat wave in Paris, I looked for ways to escape, and places with shady trees seemed like a great idea. My first stop was the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement. I followed the Rick Steves walk for this and I recommend that anyone planning this visit do the same as Rick Steves very kindly arranges his walking tour so that most of it is downhill. Upon entering, I witnessed a current funeral in progress. I was a little surprised. It had not occurred to me that this cemetery was still in use, I had assumed it was historical. I quickly put my camera away and walked out of sight of the red-nosed, tissue holding, black-clad mourners and headed for the next stop. There were memorials to countries who had lost men while fighting with France in various wars. Of these, I was struck by the memorial to the Russians of World War II. Notice the many fresh flowers at his feet.

DSCN3016

Next up was Oscar Wilde. Apparently power washed and surrounded by plexiglass, which had only a few lipstick prints on it.

DSCN3018

Just after Oscar Wilde’s gravesite I was accosted by a strange long-haired gentleman, who insisted in some language that wasn’t English or French that I follow him with my camera. He had two other tourists hostage and gestured wildly towards this grave, telling us in broken various languages that this man was the REAL inventor of the Zeppelin. Sadly, I had followed this strange man because I thought he was talking about Led Zeppelin. I was thinking, “I didn’t know John Bonham was buried here”. He isn’t, but this man is.

Joseph Spiess, real inventor of the airship?

Joseph Spiess, real inventor of the airship?

I googled him (Joseph Spiess) and apparently strange cemetery man was correct. Moving on…

I saw Gertrude Stein’s spartan grave, as well as Alice B Toklas, whose name is engraved on the back of Stein’s, although I later learned that she is actually buried next to her, not with her.

DSCN3026

Then came the memorials to the Jews who died in concentration camps. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

DSCN3038 DSCN3028 DSCN3030 DSCN3037

Just around the bend from this area is Paris’s Alamo. Apparently, members of the Paris Commune barricaded themselves inside this wall, but were eventually overtaken and shot in this spot in March 1871.

DSCN3040

I stopped briefly after this to have a small picnic on a bench. Then ventured further on, taking pictures of a few non-famous graves that I found interesting for one reason or another.

DSCN3046 DSCN3048 DSCN3065 DSCN3066

Does anyone else find this disturbing?

Does anyone else find this disturbing?

DSCN3063

Now, I don’t want to alienate anyone here, but I have never really been a fan of The Doors, except for one song, and I just don’t get the fascination with Jim Morrison, so I walked past his grave without pausing. I walked on to Frederic Chopin and met a woman holding the same Rick Steves Paris book I was holding. We laughed and then talked a bit. She was newly arrived and asked if I had done any other tours, and if he was accurate in his recommendations. I told her that I didn’t like Montmartre, but she had been there the day before and liked it even less than I did, as she met a group of women, one of whom had been pick-pocketed and lost quite a bit of money. The only other thing I told her was that the famous #69 bus was just way too hot to ride this time of year. We said our goodbyes and I moved on.

My next stop was Abelard and Heloise, but I have recently learned in school that their relationship was possibly toxic; that Peter Abelard may have been abusive, so I didn’t feel any emotion at the tragic love story. In fact I ignored Abelard, and just looked at Heloise. I wasn’t terribly interested in the remaining graves on the walking tour, so I chose to exit here. It was hot hot hot, and even though I was walking downhill in mostly shade, it had started to feel like work. I got on the Metro and went to Parc des Buttes Chaumont since it was in the next arrondissement. This park was recommended to me by a former co-worker and now Facebook friend (Hi Roger!).

It’s a lovely park, from what I saw of it. Looking at the map, I think I only scratched the surface, although the heat, combined with the hills made it seem as though I had hiked the Himalayas. I took the Metro to the Buttes Chaumont stop and not surprisingly, found the entrance to the park very close to the Metro. I immediately climbed a mountain (okay so it was a small hill) and found nothing at the top but a few benches, that famous Parisian gravel, and lovers hidden in the grasses.

Seriously, there are 6 or 8 people in this picture

Seriously, there are 6 or 8 people in this picture

DSCN3075

I felt a bit like a voyeur, so I trekked back down the mountain and turned left onto a path, which led me past bridges, tons of people laying on the grass, kids playing in a stream…..

DSCN3077 DSCN3078

DSCN3079 DSCN3080 DSCN3081

Then another bigger bridge (designed by Gustave Eiffel) leading to the Temple Sibylle.

DSCN3085 DSCN3088 DSCN3089

I think if I had known the history of this park, I might not have been so eager to see it. According to Wikipedia,  it’s near a place where for around 400 years they used to display the dead bodies of hanged criminals, and then it was used as a garbage dump, a place to cut up dead horses, and to dump sewage. Nice, huh? I’m especially happy that I didn’t know this when I got mis-directed by some badly placed orange barrier fence and ended up basically climbing a dirt hill (along with another poor stranger who made the same mistake I did) to make it back onto a path and had to take off my shoes and shake all the dirt out.

Anyway, here are some views from the temple, including a view of Sacre Coeur.

DSCN3091 DSCN3093 DSCN3095

And  views of the temple from the lakeside

DSCN3096 DSCN3097 DSCN3099

A dog chasing fish. I could have jumped right in there with him, it was that hot.

DSCN3103

This is a beautiful park, with drink and snack stands as well as more than one cafe. In fact, on my way out, there was quite a party going on at one of the cafes called Rosa Bonheur. I didn’t get a picture because I was busy dying from the heat and my mountain climbing adventure.

But this park is definitely worth the Metro ride, especially if you pack a picnic, and just buy cold drinks and glaces when you get there.

3 thoughts on “Pere-Lachaise and Parc des Buttes Chaumont

  1. The Memorials to the Jews..that’s powerful and sad.
    Wow.

    I hate the Doors ! I find every song so depressing. Jim Morrison..whatever.

    I like the railings on those steps.

    I feel your pain with the heat, having trekked around DC last weekend when it was the same temperature as the surface of the sun..

    PS I hate the word LOOOOOOVERS. It’s like panties, a word that i never think real people use. LOL

Don't just leave...say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s