Friday, April 6, 2018

Cimetiere de Montmartre

One of the many benefits to traveling with a friend is they encourage you to go places and do things that you wouldn't necessarily do on your own. I would have never thought to seek out a Parisian cemetery, but my friend Julie really wanted to and I'm so glad!

We wandered around Montmartre fairly certain we were heading towards a cemetery we saw on a map, but once we got there we could only look down on it from a bridge.

Which was a great vantage point, but we wanted to wander around inside too.

How do we get down there!?

Finally we found our way down to the entrance, but not before seeing this warning that they take cemetery security very seriously.

Right outside the entrance were several plant and flower shops.

I thought it a little odd for just a moment, then made the connection.

Of course! They're supplying plants and flowers for the graves... (duh!)

Once we were inside it was a little intimidating.

Which way to go?
A little history: "In the mid-18th century, overcrowding in the cemeteries of Paris had created numerous problems, from impossibly high funeral costs to unsanitary living conditions in the surrounding neighborhoods. In the 1780s, the Cimetière des Innocents was officially closed and citizens were banned from burying corpses within the city limits of Paris. During the early 19th century, new cemeteries were constructed outside the precincts of the capital: Montmartre in the north, Père Lachaise Cemetery in the east, Passy Cemetery in the west and Montparnasse Cemetery in the south.

The Montmartre Cemetery was opened on January 1, 1825. It was initially known as la Cimetière des Grandes Carrières (Cemetery of the Large Quarries). The name referenced the cemetery's unique location, in an abandoned gypsum quarry. The quarry had previously been used during the French Revolution as a mass grave. It was built below street level, in the hollow of an abandoned gypsum quarry located west of the Butte near the beginning of Rue Caulaincourt in Place de Clichy. As is still the case today, its sole entrance was constructed on Avenue Rachel under Rue Caulaincourt.

A popular tourist destination, Montmartre Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous artists who lived and worked in the Montmartre area."  (source)

Do you see the little kitty face? What about the one on the left?

Under the bridge we walked on earlier.

There were many cats, so many cats!

Lots of moss.

And plants!

Some pathways were made of cobbles, while others were simply dirt.

And there was not a bit of space gone to waste.

On the other side of the bridge.

Several tombs had ceramic flowers on them.

They were so delicate...

Thank god vandals hadn't been allowed to damage them.

This one was a head scratcher. A hugging saguaro...

With a Maneki-neko (Japanese lucky cat) flag. The name on the tomb was Christophe Otzenberger, 1961-2017, so this was a fairly new addition.
We walked by a group gathered around a tomb with hundreds (if not thousands) of white flowers piled up around it. Both Julie and I searched for a name, something that told the story of who they were mourning, but we saw nothing. I would have loved to take a photo, the quantity and beauty of the flowers! But out of respect for the deceased, and everyone gathered around, I did not.

This was the other most decorated grave we saw.
And upon looking up Jardin Cineraire I think this may actually be a spot reserved for people to scatter ashes. Read more here, if you're curious.

We could have wandered around here for hours, but more of (living) Paris was waiting to be discovered.

And so we walked on...

Weather Diary, April 5: Hi 55, Low 49/ Precip .38"

All material © 2009-2018 by Loree Bohl for danger garden (dg). Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

18 comments:

  1. Paris has several notable cemeteries but have never been in any of them, so thanks for taking us along! Very interesting and atmospheric to say the least (complimented with black cats and all)!

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    1. "Atmospheric" is really the perfect word.

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  2. There are some great cemeteries in terms of landscape, trees etc. in the U.S. but I haven't been to any of them, despite visiting the nearby big cities. That moss covered grave is pretty spectacular.

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    1. I've been to one in New Orleans, which since my memory has faded (that was about 18 years ago) felt very similar.

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  3. Oh my God, I loved this post! It appealed to so many parts of me, the gardener, the lover of morbid things, the crazy cat lady. It was wonderful. I love that shot of the mossy grave and the fern and the male statue from the back. The ceramic flowers are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. You'd really have enjoyed wandering through it Alison. Maybe someday...

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  4. Like Alison, I loved this post. Parisians even bury their dead with style. The hugging saguaro does make one want to know the story behind it. So glad you found the entrance!

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    1. The tombs were so ornate, style in spades.

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  5. How fabulous. I love to visit our old cemetery here which is planted lavishly with roses around the beautiful old tombs, but it's nothing compared to this. I'm so glad your friend suggested it and that you shared it with us !

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    1. Andrew and I visited a very old cemetery in Eugene, OR. In fact it was one of my first posts. Odd we haven't been to any here in Portland.

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  6. My brother has a fascination with old cemeteries but it's not one we share. Still, I found this tour interesting. The grounds were certainly very different than those of the Forest Lawn sites I've seen in SoCal, which appear to limit the types of memorial markers and decorations they allow. Were all the cats black?

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    1. All the cats we saw were indeed black.

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  7. Paris is well known for it's incredible cemeteries. Jim Morrison is berried in one so obviously it became a pilgrimage destination. I'm glad you went and shared.

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    1. Me too, such a different look than our lawn covered U.S. cemeteries.

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  8. I love this cemetery! So glad your friend wanted to see it! It was almost dripping with...trying to find the word...decadence. Maybe elegant decay. With a touch of creepiness. I love how they use plants!

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    1. All the green definitely helped lighten the mood. That and the fact the sun came out for a bit.

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  9. This brings back some memories. We're really loving your Paris posts.

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