Lan and Jane 'do' Western Europe travel blog

We had a more relaxed start to the day, as we were free to do as we pleased. Also we had spent the night fighting off a barrage of mozzies, so we appreciated the sleep in.

We caught the metro from Pont de Sèvres station and about 45 minutes later arrived at Père Lachaise Cemetery. This famous cemetery is the largest in the city, with over 1 million having been buried there over the centuries. It is, of course, the final resting place of many famous people, including Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Colette, Molière, Poulenc, Jim Morrison, Simone Signoret etc. We tried to see as many of their tombs as possible, but the place is huge so we did miss some of them.

The site was established by Napoleon as the first garden cemetery and as a result has a wonderful peaceful and restful atmosphere. It was initially unpopular because at that time it was far out of town and the grounds had not been consecrated for Catholics. But two marketing events - moving Molière and Jean de la Fontaine there in 1804, and re-interring the purported remains of Heloise and Abelard there in 1817 - worked a treat in attracting the public to the cemetery to be buried alongside celebrities, and of course now it suffers from overload and there is a long waiting list to get in. The grounds are crowded with graves jammed up against each other, especially in the older part of the cemetery. To save space, family tombs often have dozens of bodies in them, interred one on top of the other or closely side by side. Plots are sold to be held in perpetuity (all the famous graves!) or leased for 10 to 50 years so that room can be made for newcomers.

By the time we had visited several famous graves, it was time for lunch, and we found a lovely little restaurant, Le Bear Café, on Avenue Père Lachaise, where Jane had a delicious chicken and couscous and Lan had boeuf bourguignon.

We caught the metro to Place de la Concorde and strolled through the Tuileries towards the Louvre. Surprisingly, this late in the season, the place was swarming with people, so we quickly realised that a trip to the Louvre or even Notre Dame was out of the question. On closer inspection, it seemed that most of the visitors were French, and we later surmised that the crowded streets were simply a result of it being a very warm sunny Saturday.

We escaped to the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, behind Notre Dame, which is dedicated to the 200,000 Jews who were deported from France during World War II. This site was thankfully quiet, as few know about it. Last time we visited this moving memorial, it was quite simple; however, it has recently been expanded to now include a small exhibition upstairs about conditions at the concentration camps. It’s always worth a visit.

We also tried to visit the Shakespeare and Company bookshop but even this had a queue outside. Astounding! So, defeated and anyway feeling dog-tired after our cycling trip, we hopped back on to the metro so that we could rest and relax before dinner.

We had decided to book into a restaurant that was nearby to the Elodie, 3B: Brasserie-Boulogne-Billancourt, which is attached to Jean Chauvel restaurant. Rather surprisingly for this location, the restaurant has one Michelin star, and as the same kitchen serves the cheaper brasserie downstairs, we knew we were in for a good feed for our last night in Paris. Jane had a chicken dish and Lan had pork ribs, both of which were indeed delicious.

We got back to the boat by 9pm, at which time the rest of the group also started to dribble in from their days out. This gave us a chance to say a fond goodbye to them as we had to leave early the next morning and would miss breakfast with them.

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