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Among the tombstones at Père Lachaise


I rose from bed on my final day in Paris without much of a plan. My only friend left in the city at this time was Max, who had been one of my most trusted companions of the trip. After bumming around, showering, brushing teeth, Max and I decided to go to L’Assignant, our favorite lunch spot in Paris. The waitress, who knew us well by then, thought we had already left Paris when we arrived at the restaurant, so she was happy to see us. Max and I ate large rumsteaks, and when we ordered coffee after the meal, the waitress gave us digestifs to celebrate our trip.

After lunch we ruminated on what we should do. It was a nice day, about 40 degrees and sunny. Museums were off the table. We had seen them all. A park sounded boring. Then Max remembered Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery where the likes of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are buried. Without much hesitation, we decided it would be a cool thing to go see.

Père Lachaise turned out to be one of the most unexpected beauties of the trip. Moss covered monoliths towering over the cemetery honoring the lives of artists and barons and celebrities past. Walking among the tombstones felt akin to walking down Fifth Avenue. Hidden details around every turn. We saw Oscar Wilde’s tomb, where people left packs of cigarettes for him to smoke in the afterlife.

We set out looking for Jim Morrison’s tomb, but got lost along the way; there were so many mausoleums it was easy to get lost. Consulting the Internet was no help, and after half an hour of stumbling through the cemetery, we gave up the search.

I thought about assigning some symbolic meaning to being in a cemetery on my last day in Paris; something about the parallel between the cemetery as the end of both life and my trip. Realizing the superficiality of this comparison I opted to focus on the present. To take in the light hitting the trees, the smell of wet moss, the cool air of Paris in December.

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