Tag Archives: colette

Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

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Pere Lachaise is one of several cemeteries in Paris and I imagine, the most well known and frequently visited. This was apparently not always the case !  In its early days in the 1800’s the cemetery actually advertised for prospective clients and such famous names  as poet La Fontaine and doomed lovers and writers Heloise & Aberlard were reburied here with much publicity to attract potential residents. Soon everyone who was anyone were clamouring to be buried at Pere Lachaise.

You might think it strange that I chose to visit a graveyard on my trip to Paris , but I was intrigued by Pere lachaise’s list of ‘celebrity’ residents. So many distinguished names from the worlds of science,arts and literature reside here. Frederich Chopin, Moliere, Edith Piaf & Jim Morrison , to name but a few.  There are maps at the entrances to show you where they can all be found.  It is also a beautiful and peaceful space to come if you wish to get away from the hustle & bustle of the French Capital. Elaborate mausoleums and tombstones decorate the graves in this vast cemetery.

I quite liked the headstone of this particular grave.
I quite liked the headstone of this particular grave. A couple with their beloved dog.
There are many elaborate graves and statues.
There are many elaborate tombstones and statues.

The cemetery is also home to a number of monuments and memorials dedicated to victims of war and conflict. I did not photograph any as I guess it felt a little insensitive. But if you visit they are well worth a look, if only to reflect on how cruel and unjust human beings can be to one another.The memorials to the holocaust are particularly moving.

The avenues of mausoleums reminded me of actual olde worlde streets.
The avenues of mausoleums reminded me of actual olde worlde streets.

Because Pere Lachaise is so huge and I imagine quite easy to get lost in, I did not find every grave I was looking for. It is possible to buy a site map near the main entrance apparently. We took a photo of a map near the entrance we came in ( opposite the Pere Lachaise metro link) but still got confused. The best thing to do we found was look out for clusters of people ( live ones  😉 gathered round certain graves. This usually meant someone of note was buried there. We also noticed a tour guide ( who seemed quite a character ! ) , taking some American tourists round. Sometimes we literally stumbled on interesting tombs….but there was a lot of the cemetery we did not manage to cover.

The grave of French singer Edith Piaf. She is interred here with her family.
The grave of French singer Edith Piaf. She is interred here with her family.
Pere Lachaise is full of angels.
Pere Lachaise is full of angels.

If you ever visit , watch out for the graveyards other residents. Pere Lachaise is home to several cats who have regularly been sighted weaving in and out of the grave stones. Unfortunately we didn’t catch a glimpse of any ~ not even near the grave of Colette, a French novelist and renowned cat lover.

Colettes grave is said to be guarded at night by the cemetery cats.
Colettes grave is said to be guarded at night by the cemetery cats.

Maybe the most visited grave is that of the Doors frontman Jim Morrison who died aged 27 from a suspected drug overdose in Paris in 1971. His headstone has been vandalised many times and is usually guarded. Near where he is buried there is a tree covered in chewing gum ~ a bizarre tribute to this rock star legend.

Jim Morrisons simple headstone with pictures.
Jim Morrisons simple headstone with pictures.
Gum Tree tribute.
Gum Tree tribute.

We also came across the tombstone of Irish writer and play write Oscar Wilde who died in Paris. The unusual design is shielded by a glass barrier to protect it from ‘kisses’. Years of admirer’s lipsticked kisses had apparently started to degrade the stone and the glass was added in 2011. X

Oscar Wildes tomb.
Oscar Wildes tomb.
Pere lachaise in summer.
Pere lachaise in summer.

Our visit was certainly interesting and thought provoking. A hauntingly beautiful place that is full of history, art, nature and atmosphere. A must if you visit Paris.

Classic Chick Flicks ~ Gigi

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Gigi (1958) is a romantic comedy musical adapted from the French novella, written by Colette. I have recently read it and was intrigued when I found that this film had been made. The story is set in turn of the century Paris ( 1900), where society seems to revolve round men taking mistresses and women aspiring to become them. Leslie Caron plays the young and carefree ‘Gigi’, who lives with her Grandmother ‘ Madame Alvarez’ and her mother , an opera singer , who we often hear practising her singing but never actually see.

Louis Jordan is the rich and charming ‘Gaston’, a family friend who becoming bored of the playboy lifestyle, finds himself spending more time drinking camomile tea with Madame Alvarez and playing cards with the refreshingly naive yet mischievous Gigi.

Gigi with her friends.
Gigi with her friends.
Gaston loves nothing better than getting beaten at cards by Gigi.
Gaston loves nothing better than getting beaten at cards by Gigi.
Eva Gabor plays Gastons cheating mistress Leanne.
Eva Gabor plays Gastons cheating mistress Leanne.

Every week Gigi visits her Great Aunt Alicia ( Madame A’s sister) for lessons in etiquette and charm ( something she is not very good at! ). Her elder relatives believe she will eventually need these attributes if she is to become a celebrated mistress like her Aunt. Meanwhile Gaston has discovered his own mistress ‘Leanne’ has been unfaithful , and promises to take Gigi and her Grandmother to the coast after Gigi wins a wager at cards. The three enjoy a weekend by the sea where they bump into Gastons uncle ( Maurice Chevalier) who quite often pops up in the film ( somewhat annoyingly ) to give Gaston advice on how to be the perfect playboy.

Gigi fooling about playing tennis with Gaston.
Gigi fooling about playing tennis with Gaston.
Aunt alicia shows Gigi the types of jewels that are acceptable presents off admirers.
Aunt alicia shows Gigi the types of jewels that are acceptable presents off admirers.
And how to choose a gentlemans cigars.
And how to choose a gentlemans cigars.

When Aunt Alicia finds out about the seaside trip she is furious and points out to her sister that Gaston surely has feelings for Gigi and that her lessons and wardrobe need to be stepped up at once. Unaware of what’s going on, but delighted at the prospect of some new grown up gowns Gigi spends more time learning how to become a lady. Comparisons to My Fair Lady here, even down to the Cecil Beaton designs.

That ruffle is not a good look Gigi !
That ruffle is not a good look Gigi !
Gaston doesn't react well to Gigi's change of image.
Gaston doesn’t react well to Gigi’s change of image.

Visiting Madame Alvarez once again, Gaston is amazed at the transformation in Gigi who suddenly stands before him as a sophisticated young woman. Yet the change has disturbed him and he storms out , realising as he stomps the streets of Paris, that he has fallen in love. Returning to the apartment he asks that Gigi become his mistress and promises her a life of luxury and kindness. Initially Gigi rejects Gaston ( though she now knows she is in love with him too, she has spent time reading about all his mistresses , along with the rest of Paris), but then decides that she would rather be miserable with him than without him and accompanies him on their first date as a couple.

On their date at Maxims.
On their date at Maxims.

Gigi puts all her Grandmothers lessons into practice on their date at Maxims which instead of pleasing Gaston, only makes him uncomfortable. Happily it then dawns on him that actually he doesn’t want Gigi to be his mistress after all. He wants her to be his wife. Hurrah. 🙂 The film ends with the happily married couple strolling in the park ~ looking very much in love.

The Happy Couple.
The Happy Couple.

I really enjoyed the book and the movie especially the fact that despite all the meddling our heroine was able to marry for love….and not become just a mistress with a pouch full of expensive jewels from long gone lovers.

Have you read any stories by Colette?

Paris ~ a bucket list.

We are hoping to visit Paris this year. We haven’t booked anything and it may not even happen. This has not stopped me from inventing itinaries and planning Paris inspired Pinterest boards though! Maybe ( if we go), When we have finished gazing up in awe at the Eiffel Tower and admiring the Arc De Triumph ,maybe we can explore a little bit more………:)

1)Vintage Carousels are seemingly popular in Paris.Several are dotted round the city including this one near the Eiffel Tower. How lovely to photograph the famous landmark from the vantage point of a vintage merry go round.
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There are others in various parcs and gardens including the jardin du luxembourg and forum les halles.For many grouped together visit le musee de art forain~ a museum of all things carnival related. I’m surely not to old to take a ride on a beautiful carousel horse am I……..

2)Outdoor Swimming is not something one associates with the River Seine but maybe that is because I didn’t know about le piscine Josephine Baker a large barge moored on the banks near the Bastille containing an impressive pool. Named for the American born entertainer/resistance heroine Josephine Baker who found love and acceptance in Paris, it has a magnificent glass roof that opens up in the summer to reveal spacious sun decks.Make sure to take your speedo’s if your a boy and swim cap if your a girl ~ the general rules in french swimming baths.

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Piscine Josephine Baker.

3) Pavement cafe’s in Paris are there to entice you to sit and watch the world go by I presume. Relax with a cafe au lait, a copy of Cherie by Colette and a sumptious french pastry.:-)

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Parisienne cafe.

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Paris Brest ~ named after a french bike race apparently.

4) Hunt out the miniature Statues of Liberty of which there are two in Paris. The original was of course a gift to New York from Paris so it is only fitting that the city has its own. The tallest is situated on a small island in the Seine (le Ill aux Cygnes) and at 37ft is tiny in comparision to its legendary counterpart.

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I love the fact that the Eiffel tower rises majestically in the distance. An even smaller replica can be found in the jardin du luxembourg.

5) In the film Sabrina , Audrey Hepburn’s character says ‘paris is always a good idea’. She must have thought so herself as Audrey made several films in the city. I have only seen Funny Face where she danced with Fred Astaire and Charade in which she starred with Cary Grant. There are several more including Sabrina and Paris When It Sizzles.

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Audrey with balloons in Funny Face.

To trace Audrey’s film locations saunter over to this charming blog My French Life for inspiration. 🙂

6) Two bridges over the Seine River in Paris are covered in ‘love locks’. Pont de Arts and Pont de l’Archeveche. Buy a padlock from rue de Rivoli , write your names on the padlock, lock it onto one of the bridges and throw away the key. Your love is now eternal! The river bed must be carpeted with keys.

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Love Lock ❤

7) Browse the fabulous antiques, art and flea markets for that perfect book, print or trinket.
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8) If you are feeling brave why not delve into the shadowy world of vampires. Le Musee des Vampires is a small private museum on the outskirts of Paris dedicated to Vampires and the undead. I myself may just be to scared. By private appointment only.

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Vampire Museum ( picture found on the cool stuff to do in Paris website.

9) I would quite like to wander round the Pere Lachaise Cemetery however ~ a vast acreage of ornate statues and elaborate mausoleums dedicated to many famous names. Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Sarah Bernart and the french novelist Colette to name but a few. The most visited grave is that of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison apparently.

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statue at Pere Lachaise. ( Picture by Christopher Levy)

The cemetery is home to a multitude of cats ( they are fed by people who live near by ) and it is said that the flowers on the grave of Colette ( a noted cat lover) are replaced regularly by her feline admirers ,come night fall……

10) And of course in Paris it would be wonderful to stay in a chic Parisienne apartment. I have noticed that a few bloggers I read have used Airbnb which is a website where people advertise rooms and also whole apartments relatively inexpensively. I may have to try them out !

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Parisienne Apartment. 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed my bucket list. Have you been to any of the places featured ? Where do you love to go in Paris?

* note ~ none of the beautiful pictures in this post are my own. They are pinned off pins off pins on Pinterest and it was hard to find all there sources.