Pére Lachaise- History Challenge

 

Ed Mooney’s History Challenge– week 15

-The Famous Graves of Pere Lachaise  ( and history of a more recent century)-

Pére Lachaise Cemetery was established in 1804 and was named for the confessor to Louis XIV. It was wonderful to walk it’s quiet shady streets on a hot summer’s day in Paris.  Here, my daughter and I joined many other grave seekers  looking to find the famous and the notorious, from actresses and singers to philosophers and poet rock stars.  Abelard, Moliere, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin and many more are at rest in Pére Lachaise.streets of pere lachaise

 

 

Edith (Gassion) Piaf, (1915-63) a French cabaret singer  from the streets of Belleville, Paris, was nicknamed La Môme Piaf- (the waif or the little sparrow). She was raised in a brothel by her grandmother who was the Madame.  Edith was not even five feet tall but her amazing and emotional vocal talent was discovered during WWII, and by the 1950’s she was the national chanteuse of France. She became internationally famous with songs like La Vie en Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. Her life was stormy and tragic, beginning with the death of a child she had at 17 years old and a few years later, the love of her life who was killed in a plane crash. After an accident which left her in chronic pain she became addicted to morphine and alcohol. She died at age 47 of liver cancer.

 

In the Columbarium I found Maria Callas.  Callas was perhaps the most famous and dramatic operatic soprano of all time but her last years were spent in seclusion in a Paris apartment.  It is said she died of a broken heart after her long and tempestuous love affair with the charismatic Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis. He betrayed her by marrying the widow of assassinated president John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Onassis died in  1975. Maria died two years later at age 53. In spite of all her previous great fame Maria’s resting place was marked only by it’s catalog number until 1991 when a group of opera fans paid for a plaque to commemorate her.

 

On the lower lever  we saw the niche of  Isadora Duncan, the famous and flamboyant  American dancer of the early 20th century whose own  life was marked by unconventionality and  tragedy. She traveled overseas and  became the toast of Europe but she lost her two children in a drowning accident on the Seine.  She embraced her own romantic notion of communism and the Russian revolution by marrying a Bolshevik poet and was then ostracized and rejected by her own country.  She died in 1927 in Nice, France, under most unusual circumstances.  While riding as a passenger in a Bugatti sports car, her signature long scarf caught in the back wheel and broke her neck. On hearing the news of the dancer’s death, the poet Gertrude Stein sardonicaly stated,”Affectations can be dangerous.” Duncan’s style and freedom of movement have influenced the dance world to this day. People still leave offerings and pay homage to her at the wall- so Isadora is still adored.

 

Finally we found the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Oscar Wilde has been one of my favourite writers starting from childhood when I first read- with many tears- the story of  “The Happy Prince.” Born in Dublin, Ireland, Wilde became one of the leading playwrights and novelists of his time, employing  great wit and brilliant satire. One of the most famous of his stories was The Portrait of Dorian Grey. He was imprisoned for homosexuality which was a crime in Victorian England and wrote an essay of his spiritual journey which was later called  De Profundis. When he was released he left the British Isles for France and never returned. He died destitute in Paris. Visitors and admirers would visit his grave and leave lipstick marks all over the tombstone which prompted the placement of a glass barrier around the monument.

James Douglas Morrison
James Douglas Morrison

People still party at the grave of tortured rock star, Jim Morrison, who died at 27 in Paris of a probable drug overdose, though the medical records read heart attack. The roaches and beer cans of his fans and imitators have littered the site over the years and again, a fence had to be put up to try to protect the grave from desecration. Morrison had wanted to be a poet but instead became caught up in the sixties counter culture and joined the soon to be famous psychedelic rock band, The Doors. Jim was more of an alcoholic than a psychedelic but he was not afraid to push boundaries, always seeking new states of consciousness and as some believe courting death in the process. The music, coupled with his magnetic presence and frequent outrageous behaviour on stage overshadowed the poetry of his lyrics which often delved deeply into the hidden and dark places of the human psyche. His turbulent life and death became a legend. His tomb bears a Greek inscription KATA TON DAIMONA EAYTOY  “according to his own spirit.”

252496__jim-morrison_p
when the music’s over

________________________

A Parisian Tale

More about Isadora

No, I regret nothing!

 

 

47 Comments Add yours

  1. Mél@nie says:

    excellent post, merci Madame! ❤ I lived in Paris for several years and I did visit Père Lachaise many times…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was hoping you would like it! Merci aussi!!

      Like

  2. pattimoed says:

    This is a “must-see” visit when we go back to Paris. Thanks for the tour in your wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are most welcome and yes I hope you do!

      Like

  3. Sue says:

    I have always intended to visit Père Lachaise…one day! Excellent atmospheric images, as ever, Cybele

    Liked by 1 person

    1. pleased you like the post!! Thanks Sue!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    What an amazing post! They all led such short and turbulent lives. Its as if this world was just too much for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. pleased you read it Ali!! thank you. Yes, such tragic lives – they burned so brightly but for a briefer time!!

      Like

  5. DG MARYOGA says:

    Great response to the challenge,superb presentation and photos,dear Cybele!As I am an avid grave seeker too,I have spent many hours in Highgate Cemetery in London and in the First Cemetery of Athens,behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus,where many famous Greek people and foreigners are buried.It’s such an eccentric,but pleasant place to visit and see many works of art such as Giannoulis Chalepas’ sculptures and statues.Masterful your work with your exceptional photos and the bios.I particularly appreciated your reference to the great Greek soprano,who was born on the 2nd of Dec,1923,the same day you posted it.It was sort of tribute.The Greek inscription on Morrison’s tomb and the free style of movement of the famous dancer Isadora Dunkan were also great references.Thank you for this wonderful post,Cybele!
    PS:✿ My warmest wishes for Nikos’ Name Day ♥ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nikos says thank you Doda!! efkaristo!! It’s so interesting to find all the stories in cemeteries I know!! Callas was superb!! But Onassis was not such a good man I think. His wealth and fame went to his head, but he also suffered tragedy, his son was killed and some years back his daughter, Christina Onassis too, from an overdose I think. You see Doda, money often brings misery. So I must not complain anymore of my lack lol!! If I get back to Greece I would love to see that cemetery. Is Lord Byron there? I once stayed on Vyronos Street in Plaka!! Blessings Doda!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maverick ~ says:

    Love to visit Paris sometime, great shots!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. many thanks Maverick and yes do!

      Like

  7. wheresphil says:

    Thanks Cybele, like so many other commenters I too missed the cemetery when I was in Paris, stupidly we went to the wrong one !! Though I did find the very phallic tomb of James Dumont d’Urville who was one of the first people to map the New Zealand coast, so a worthwhile wrong cemetery choice !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. did you get to the catacombs? Now that is downright creepy!! Thanks for reading Phil!

      Like

  8. This was a fascinating read about interesting people! Some people may think it odd, but I think cemeteries can be so very interesting. Perhaps it’s the love of genealogy! And I enjoyed the music of Edith Piaf presented. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Linda!! and I know you are big into genealogy and your church is so good at it!! There are always stories in graveyards. I hope we will all meet each other beyond, including our long ago relatives! Piaf was an amazing singer. Such sad stories of the famous!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. sixpixx says:

    Great post. My fav. city. Once spent a bleak, grey autumnal afternoon wandering these avenues of hidden truths. Very atmospheric and you’ve captured it so well. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. so glad you know it Sixx!! a fascinating place! Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  10. Peter Nena says:

    Hi Cybele. Thank you for sharing these stories. I didn’t know Oscar Wilde’s life ended so sadly. I still love his stories. “The Nightingale and the Rose” is my favourite. I have the collection. I also have the Dorian Grey book. I am truly saddened by the writer’s fate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do too Peter. He was a wonderful writer of poignant tales! and yes very sad at the end of his life. I’m sure he was very disillusioned. I saw his house in Dublin and they have a wonderful tribute to him in the square across the street from it. How are you doing Peter!! Are you writing these days ? I have not had a post notification but I should drop by your blog to see. Take care my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Peter Nena says:

        How sweet of you to ask Cybele! Nothing yet, though. But the spirit is returning. I did publish the last story I wrote. The one about the bitter heartbroken girl and the cat named Q.O. The editor called me yesterday. He said the feedback is massively positive. Readers like it and they are asking for more of my stories. They want to know what else I have published. I have also received Twitter messages about it. So I should write more.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh I am not surprised!! Congratulations! I must go back and re read that one.- and will look forward to more!!

        Like

  11. What a fabulous post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased you liked it!! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. DG Hardy says:

    A lovely presentation, as usual. Non, je ne regret rien. LOL. Hope you are well & thriving. xo DG >

    Like

  13. Adrian Lewis says:

    Fascinating post, Cybele, full of interest and good images – I really like your very limited restoration of colour on the shot of Jim Morrison’s grave – and I am inevitably reminded on one of my very favourite film sequences – The Doors singing over the leading shots of Apocalypse Now. A

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh- that was quite the film!! Thanks so much Adrian! Pere Lachaise is full of stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. poppytump says:

    Great post Hannah I didn’t know quite alot of the background of some of these people .. characters . So many of them had lives tinged with a great deal of sadness 😦
    A place I’d like to visit too sometime !
    Lovely pictures ..I can see it would be your kind of place – if that doesn’t sound odd 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol – oh I am odd!! But the place is full of stories as cemeteries are I think. It is very interesting! Paris also has the catacombs and that place is spooky/creepy!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ll add that, Amedeo Modigliani, my son’s namesake, is buried there. We visited Pere Lachaise in the ’70s. It is a very special place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is!! how lovely to have him for a namesake!

      Like

  16. Aquileana says:

    beautiful post… I´d love to visit Pere Lachaise, and particularly Oscar Wilde´s Grave…
    Sending love and best wishes, dear Cybele. Aquileana 💫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you do! thank you and the same to you in the season!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. sedge808 says:

    amazing place. I’ve only ever seen it on the T.V.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it is full of stories!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve always had the venue on my list of places to see while in Paris, but I’ve run out of time each trip. Thanks for sharing the tour and lovely images.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know about running out of time! So much to see! Thanks Deborah!

      Like

  19. kazg10 says:

    So fascinating Cybele. I’d love to go back for a better look with more time to stroll this famous Cemetery. Thanks for the very interesting info on some of its most famous inhabitants! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. they are such sad stories too aren’t they? – but so interesting! Thanks Kaz!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kazg10 says:

        It seems bright lights shine strong for a shorter time than us mere mortals!

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Well done, Cybele! I enjoyed reading the bios after gazing at the graves. We walked all over Paris last year but missed this cemetery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad you enjoyed reading the bios! it is such an interesting place.- next time! Thanks Crow!

      Like

  21. sheldonk2014 says:

    Great post
    Excellent work

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pleased you liked it!! Thanks Sheldon!

      Like

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