Cheep cheep cheep cheep, cheep cheep cheep cheep!
Yesterday it was awfully cold, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue, so I suited up–
–and hopped on the train for an adventure. The first thing I wanted to do was take line 2 (dark blue) to Ménilmontant. My senior year of college, I was exempt from choir because of The Merry Widow and various vocal problems. But I knew I would go stir-crazy if I didn’t take another class, so I picked up History of Film to 1939, through the School of Communications. I was in a little over my head at times, because I hadn’t taken the class on Fundamentals of Film, or whatever it was called, where you learned about film technique and camera angles and lighting and everything. But I had a great time nonetheless. Professor Curtis knew the name of each and every student in the class after two class meetings, and sometimes we would watch whole movies (that is, full-length ones, not things like “What Happened in the Tunnel”–go check that out on Youtube, it’s so silly!) in class. We watched The Cheat, we watched The Awful Truth with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (gumption!!), and we watched Ménilmontant. It’s a beautiful little silent film about two sisters whose parents are killed, so they are forced to go make their livings in Paris. One of them falls in love with a handsome dandy, who leaves her pregnant and penniless, and then takes up with her sister. The whole thing is on Youtube.
Anyway, I got off the train at Ménilmontant.
Honestly, there’s not much there. It’s hardly a tourist area, but it’s quiet and the streets are wide and open with plenty of trees. But I had noticed that the métro stop just before Ménilmontant had been Père Lachaise–the cemetery where all of the famous people are. So I followed the signs and walked back one stop. The weather was so beautiful that it was really the perfect day for a walk. Through the cemetery.
I wasn’t really comfortable with taking pictures of most of the stones–I mean, Balzac is one thing, but somebody I never heard of is slightly different. It’s not really as much of a tourist attraction as you’d think, despite the celebrities. What I found the most interesting was how little stylistic unity there was among the graves, and just how many there were–huge sarcophagi and mausoleums, with various statuary and plaques and engravings. There were Jewish graves next to Catholic graves next to graves in Asian languages; there were graves that hadn’t been touched in over a hundred years, and there were graves that had been opened two months ago. There were graves of resistance fighters from WWII and memorials to family members who died at Auschwitz. I didn’t bother with a map or anything–I just wandered, sat for a while and did the whole Thursday crossword, then wandered some more.
Eventually I stumbled across a few famous people.
He painted this:
And of course everybody wants to see the much-kissed resting place of Oscar Wilde. I only knew about it because of Paris, Je T’aime (according to Emily Mortimer, Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt and Proust are all buried at Père Lachaise, but I think you probably need to have somebody tell you where they are if you want to find them).
I actually had no idea where to find Oscar Wilde, but eventually I noticed a comparatively large group of people standing around and taking pictures of something, so I knew that was probably it.
You can’t get any closer than that anymore–they’ve blocked it off. Just as well–I’m kind of with Rufus Sewell about the kissing thing. Ew.
And then it took me twenty minutes to get out, because I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was wandering. Whoops. But I finally made it, hopped on the train and went to Rue de Rivoli to hunt for boots, to no avail.