on our first full day in paris, i decided to drag susie over to the montparnasse cemetery, which was a two-minute walk from our hotel. a lot of famous people are interred at various cemeteries all over paris, and montparnasse's most famous residents may probably be the people i went to see that day: the philosopher jean paul sartre and his lover, simone de beauvoir.
it was a nice sunny day in paris. the place was quiet, but not grim. right by the gate is a map that shows you the way to the graves of the cemetery's memorable residents. among them are writer samuel beckett, sculptor constantin brancusi, andré citroën (of the automobile brand), gustave coriolis (of the coriolis effect), the artist henri latour, author guy de maupassant (whose story, "the necklace," i read in high school), historian edgar quinet, and writer susan sontag.
sartre and de beauvoir's graves were just a few steps from the gate. from the map, all we needed to do was turn around and take a couple of steps, and there they were. the stone was adorned with kisses, the gravestone was also laden with gifts, such as a small, golden replica of the eiffel, plenty of roses, and even a lighter.
after that, susie and i walked around for a little bit, not looking for anyone in particular, but just looking at the stones and the graves, checking how long some had been staying there. we were pretty impressed at the variety and artistry in the tombstones. art in paris definitely permeates even its cemeteries.
some people would have said that starting the day by seeing the dead is a sad way to start any day, but i beg to differ. visiting one of the most influential personalities the world has ever known is one of the best ways to start any day for me. and it definitely fits what would become of our trip to paris--we ended up chasing personalities, both real and fictional, all over the french capital.
but that's getting ahead of the story. :)
list of cemeteries in paris:
montparnasse cemetery (Cimetière du Montparnasse)
3, boulevard Edouard Quinet 75014 Paris
Tel.: +33(0)1 44 10 86 50
Metro: Edgar Quinet or Raspail
Buses: 28 or 68
père-lachaise cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise)
16, rue du Repos
Tel.: +33(0)1 55 25 82 10
Metro: Père Lachaise or Philippe Auguste
Buses: 61 or 69
montmartre cemetery (Cimetière Montmartre)
20, avenue Rachel
Tel.: +33(0)1 53 42 36 30
Metro: Blanche or Place de Clichy
Buses: 95, 80, 74, 54 or 30
admission to these cemeteries is free.
view more photos of i gotta go's trip to cimetière du montparnasse