Saturday, July 18th ~ Paris, France
First, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my sister, Jan. Looking forward to spending more time with her later this summer when we get to celebrate at my nephews wedding in August and then doing some boating together in the San Juan Islands.
Père Lachaise Cemetery ~ I know it may seem strange to many of you for us to visit a cemetery, but it is famous and listed as the #16 out of 1162 things to do in Paris. We missed it last time we were here, so put it on the list for this trip.
There are several large cemeteries throughout Paris, but probably the most well-known is Père Lachaise. Established in 1804 due to Napoleon’s decree that “Every citizen has the right to be buried regardless of race or religion”. Because the location was a distance from the city center and not consecrated by the church, it took several years before it became accepted.
It is still an active cemetery, although space is extremely limited. To be eligible, one must either have lived in Paris or die in Paris. Over 1 million people are currently buried here.
“The grave sites at Père Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned headstone to towering monuments and even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to the memory of a well-known person or family. Many of the tombs are about the size and shape of a telephone booth, with just enough space for a mourner to step inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave some flowers.” ~ Wikipedia
Among the famous names of those interred here are Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas, Frederic Chopin, Moliere, Edith Piaf, Balzac, Proust and Jim Morrison.
Getting there: There are several Metro stations that get you close, including Philippe Auguste and Père Lachaise. However, many people prefer going to the Gambetta station on line 3. It allows you to enter the cemetery near the tomb of Oscar Wilde and then walk downhill from there.
Cost: There is no entrance fee, however you might want to get a site map that lists the famous graves. The cemetery is huge, winding up, down and around numerous streets and paths and it is not easy to find specific graves without one. We saw maps for sale at the entrance for €2.50.
Here is a slide show to give you a little more idea of what the cemetery looks like. Hopefully it will not take too long to load for you.
Eiffel Tower ~ There are few monuments in the world more famous or instantly identifiable than the Eiffel Tower.
“Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design” ~ Wikipedia
- The tower is completely repainted approximately every seven years. It takes an entire year to complete the job, starting at the top and working down.
- Approximately 60 tons of paint are used.
- It has changed colors several times including red-brown, yellow-ochre, chestnut-brown, and is now a bronze color.
- The color is slightly shaded towards the top so that the color looks the same all the way up.
- Supplies used – 50 km of security cords, 5 acres of protective netting, 1500 brushes, 5000 sanding disks, 1500 sets of work clothes, and a team of 25 painters. (Toureiffel.paris)
Sadly they are having a serious problem with pickpockets in Paris and the area around the Eiffel Tower is especially bad. There are also a large number of hawkers setting up their goods on makeshift tablecloths or carrying cheap items to sell to tourists. The local police are working in teams trying to keep it under control, but they are greatly outnumbered by those causing problems.
On a lighter note, the Tour de France is currently in full swing and headed this way. It will end in Paris on July 26th.
- Distance: 2,087 miles
- Total Stages: 21
- Starting Point: Utrecht, Netherlands
- End Point: Paris, France
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful that we have never had our pockets picked. What an awful feeling that must be. We do use normal precautions, like keeping passports, jewelry, extra credit card, and most of our money in the hotel safe when we go out. We also try to blend in as much as we can by not carrying a back pack, no camera around the neck, and use a small over the shoulder cross body type purse that is kept in front of me. Tim keeps his wallet and iPhone in his front pockets, and his money/credit card in an inside front zipper pocket if the pants happen to have one.
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