Day 1,589 of Traveling the World | Paris, France – Part 3 | June 9, 2022

Our last week in Paris was lot of fun, but we rested more than we did last week. We always tell anyone considering our lifestyle not to treat it like it is a vacation, trying to fill every day with tourism, as that just leads to burnout. Even more so – as senior citizens, we just can’t go and go every single day! We went to the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which we didn’t know was famous until it was an answer six or seven times on Jeopardy. It is always the question to the answer, “It is where Jim Morrison is buried.” So now we went, we saw, we know it forever. It is the first garden cemetery, opened in 1804. It is not only the largest green space in Paris, it is the most-visited necropolis in the world, with more than 3.5 million annual visitors. Here you will find the graves not only of Jim Morrison, but of Frederic Chopin, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, and Moliere. The cobblestone streets are all named, with signs to lead the way, and there are 5,000 varieties of trees! It is far more impressive, botanically, than the formal gardens we visited in Paris. We walked around for maybe 2-3 hours, and estimate that we saw perhaps 25 percent of the entire site. It is huge, and the famous reside next door (as it were) to the ordinary citizens.

We also visited the inside of the Palais Garnier, which houses the Paris Opera. What’s interesting is that, unlike tours of most famous buildings, visitors were allowed to roam through the building freely, with no time limits. Consequently, though, there were hordes of people that you had to fight through to see the most interesting places inside. And this is only early June!

Speaking of hordes of people: we bought tickets for the Louvre online, at 17 euros each. We arrived about 20 minutes before our designated time, to find hundreds and hundreds of people in line with the same time as us! The queue stretched forever and wasn’t moving, looking to be about two excruciating hours of standing in line, which is what we thought we were avoiding by buying online. So we decided that our entrance fees were a donation to the Louvre and went walking the streets of Paris instead. (We think we had more fun doing so!)

Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera. We showed the exterior in a previous post, but this week went inside. It is even more elaborate than Versailles, with more gold and glitz, and in some ways better cared for! Part of the reason it might look better kept up is that even with all the people at the Palais, it is nothing compared to the crowds at Versailles.
This room has a fireplace at each end, extending upward into more and more elaboration.
Then there is the entire ceiling!
…and the stage, with red velvet boxed seats along the sides.
The chandelier is centered in a beautiful, multicolored celebration of the Arts.
One of the many cobblestone streets in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It is a very quiet, pretty, and peaceful place to spend a day.
This is a famous tomb in the cemetery – Georges Rodenbach, trying to rise from his grave!
This huge sepulcher is one of many that we saw with weeping women. (We might note that we didn’t see a single depiction of weeping men!)
It is unclear whether this is a piece of modern sculpture, a partial man with an artist’s palette, or whether it has deteriorated after once being whole.
Chopin’s full name is Frederic Francois Chopin, so we are not sure why the inscription says, “A Fred Chopin.” FRED sounds pretty chummy, though, doesn’t it?
Jim Morrison’s grave was surprising, in that it was small and in an interior row, squashed by other graves on all four sides.
There was no inscription on this slab, with a nude man and woman lounging. We suppose it belongs to the adjacent grave, but there is no explanation.
This grave is completely moss-covered, and as you can see, the grave behind to the left has lost its cross, which is laying broken over it. How long have these graves been forgotten, and now are unknown? Who is buried here?
More weeping women – not men. And can you see the sign? All of the paths in the cemetery have names, just like in cities.
A Holocaust Memorial…a staircase to heaven, perhaps?
The grave of Edith Piaf, which supposedly always has fresh flowers.
Not sure if she keeps people OUT, or keeps the dead IN. In either case, we are glad she is on duty.
This looked like Small House Row to us.
This tomb is Oscar Wilde’s.
Due to a famous tradition, they ask that you not “sully” the plexiglas, as in the next photo…
…apparently, women (and men?) have been leaving kisses on the plexiglas for many years, even though it seems to be very unsanitary!
Victor Noir was a journalist, killed by a cousin of Napoleon III, and his death led to riots on the streets of France. The sculptor decided to depict him with a bulge in his crotch, and he then became a symbol of fertility. If a single woman kisses his lips, she will find a boyfriend within a year. If you wish to get pregnant, a woman rubs his bulge. And if she wants twins, she rubs his left foot. As you can see, the rest of the bronze has oxidized, but frequent rubbing has kept the other spots…shiny.
The tomb of Baroness Stroganova, the largest in the cemetery.
Another woman weeping, this time in the nude.
As we left Pere Lachaise and walked toward the metro, we noticed these deadly spikes, facing both ways. The cemetery does not charge an entrance fee, so we wondered once again: is it to keep the dead IN, or keep the living OUT??
Very curious! The trees just above these urinals form the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens; these urinals are installed along the sidewalk of the Place de La Concorde. There is no shielding whatsoever. Men: would YOU use them?
A brass door handle along a boulevard.
Green. Shiny. Pants. Yea or nay?
We could see that they served milkshakes and donuts. We didn’t go in, lest we find it hard to leave.
This looks adorable, with the understated burro under a sign that looks like “traitor!” – but the word actually means caterer.
Inside and out, this Italian restaurant was jammed with flowers.
These tiny dough bags don’t have much room in them for sweets, but they were in a patisserie, looking cute.
This street art is titled “A Bouquet of Tulips,” by Jeff Koons. It is similar to some of his work we have seen outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao. As you can see, compared to the height of a person, it is gigantic!
Advertising the Musee de Cluny, this is a whimsical conglomeration of famous people in art history, eating hot dogs, barbecuing, wearing sunglasses, playing an electric guitar…Fun!
We asked some military guys what VIGIPIRATES (Operation Sentinel) were. They explained that there were always about a dozen cars here (near the Louvre) in case of a terrorist incident.
Trying to sell sweets and crepes!
A very attractive fountain surrounded by flowers on one of the locals’ favorite streets in the Rive Gauche, Rue Mouffetard.
Two windows in an antiques shop on the Left Bank…a little of everything.
The line at the Louvre…for people who bought tickets online, in advance. The people in the very front were about 100th in line; the guard told us to go to the very back, at the buildings in the distance, so that we could be 300th in line and wait about two hours. We stood and watched – this line wasn’t moving AT ALL. So, we decided that our 34-euro tickets were a donation, and we went for a walk!
A really pretty subway entrance! We don’t know why it is so nicely decorated, but it is the only one like it in all of Paris that we saw.