Culture & Entertainment

Travel Talk: Oui, Paris can be scarey

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Travel Talk: Oui, Paris can be scarey

Grave expectations! My most frightening moment in Paris? It's a toss-up between my first time in a Parisian bistro when I innocently asked the waiter for ketchup to go with my frites (his withering look haunts me still) and the time I got stuck inside the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery after dark. I never did return to that eatery on the Left Bank. Luckily, Paris is full of fine restaurants with less severe serving staff. However, with Halloween upon us with its attendant images of skulls and evil spirits, my thoughts drift back to my walk among the dead of Paris at the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, built in 1804. It's probably the world's most visited cemetery, the resting place of such luminaries as: and many, many more. In daylight, it's a walk through history. Every major literary figure, philosopher, writer and even a few ne'er-do-wells are spending eternity shoulder-to-shoulder in this crowded resting place. The 100-acre cemetery is crammed with burial plots, headstones, memorial sculptures and ornate tombs in every nook and cranny. Think necropolis gone wild! There are more than 70,000 graves and they're still adding 'residents' - though real estate is becoming scarce. It's easy to lose yourself in the myriad of pathways and doubly easy to lose track of time, as I did one autumn afternoon on my first visit to Pere Lachaise years ago. Between paying homage to the grave of Oscar Wilde to placing a single rose at the foot of Edith Piaf's tomb to reading the inscriptions celebrating the love of Abelard and Heloise, there's so much to do in the quiet of Pere Lachaise. So much so, that I got I got locked in. Time flew. The skies darkened. Wild cats roamed the maze of pathways. Mad sculpted gargoyles grinned down at me at every turn. It was spine-tingling frightful. Were it not for my banging of the gate I'd be there still! Such gothic experiences aren't what a traveller normally associates with visits to the City of Lights. When you hear the mention of Paris you think buttery croissants, fashion-conscious cabbies, boat rides on the Seine, top-of-the-city views from the Eiffel Tower, endless bottles of wine, and beret-wearing models cycling through the streets of Paris without ever breaking a sweat. Take a look at these images from Pere Lachaise and I'll think you'll agree: Paris can be one scary place, non? [caption id="attachment_13959" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Gothic, bone-chilling touches abound in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris (Photo: Pierre-Yves Beaucouin)[/caption]

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[caption id="attachment_13961" align="aligncenter" width="240"] An eerie atmosphere permeates Pere Lachaise Cemetery with a Halloween-like feel 365 days each year. (Courtesy: Al VanBeem)[/caption]

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[caption id="attachment_13965" align="aligncenter" width="330"] There's barely an inch to squeeze between grave sites of famous, long-dead citizens of Paris.[/caption]

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Have you visited any famous cemeteries?
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Travel Talk: Oui, Paris can be scarey

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