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itinerary

A very abbreviated sampling of the overwhelming number of historical figures dwelling in Paris...boggles the mind. We've intermingled them with other nearby attractions (and aspects of our program) merely to provide a flavor of what might be in store for you. READ ONLY THE FINAL PARAGRAPH IN THIS SECTION IF YOU DO NOT RELISH DETAIL...DO NOT WANT TO BE TITILLATED.

Here we honor highly select highlights on a delectable short list of options:

A

is for Avenues shaded by lime trees, traversing tranquil oases in Cimetière Montparnasse. And for Abélard, supposedly reunited there with Héloise, their romantic tragedy of doomed love resonating today still; buried in the 12th century, if the boneyard record is accurate they are the oldest residents in the cemetery. Antiques? The largest emporium in the world with objets d'art is only a short distance from our base of operations. A flea market shopper's dream. Adjacent to visions from Ampère to Apollinaire

B

is for the Belle Epoque spirit which permeates so many aspects of the cemeteries we visit...and their environs. And for Balzac (Père-Lachaise), Baudelaire (Montmartre), and Beckett (Montparnasse), some of the best in the realm of...rarefied writing. How about Brancusi's "The Kiss" to keep us grounded? Our newsletter's Book Club helps in this regard; participants with mutual interests are introduced to one another prior to our Parisian rendezvous...to trade impressions of works related to the upcoming vacation. Ask us about the invaluable Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong (by Barlow and Benoit Nadeau) respecting this purpose, and see book recommendations under "P" below.

C

is for rue Cortot, where #12 boasts of having put up Renoir, Othon Friesz, Utter, Dufy, Emile Bernard, Suzanne Valadon and her son Utrillo, and the radical poet Pierre Reverdy over the years. It is now the entrance to the Montmartre Museum, and very close to the oldest of vineyards in Paris. In addition, "C" is for the attractions along rue Caulaincourt, and Chopin and Colette, resting at Père-Lachaise. There will be more than one Centennial celebrated in 2006, including much ado about the birth of Beckett.

D

is for 1 place Denfert-Rochereau, entrance to Les Catacombes, the Gallo-Roman quarries which were transformed into ossuaries between 1785 and 1810. The millions of skeletons from the Cemetery of the Innocents, forming a macabre decoration of sorts, can be juxstaposed with the nearby, partly pedestrianized, rue Daguerre,with its small shops...attractive and lively. The Degas tombstone is not to be missed in Montmartre, by the way. Ditto for that of Delacroix and (Isadora) Duncan at Père-Lachaise...for different reasons.

E

is for the Musée de l'Erotisme, located on Boulevard de Clichy, a center of Paris nightlife. It traces the fascination that eroticism has exerted on artists worldwide...since the beginning of time, both sacred and profane. In the neighborhood of Père-Lachaise where the inimitable "Edith" is buried. Why...our little sparrow (Giovanna Gassion) Piaf, of course.

F

is for Fashion, Flea Markets and Flowers! Green Paris (blossoms abound!) can be found in and around all the cemeteries. In stark contrast, the cube-shaped building of the International Textile Center boasts over 200 companies on 12 floors; it houses departments stores, luxury shops selling the latest in fashions, with cafes and restaurants to boot. Those who have different tastes can partake of the numerous nearby flea market stalls around Cimetière Montmartre. Philosopher Foucault is found nearby too, but a must-do is the Mur des Fédérés in Père-Lachaise. It embodies French left-wing mythology that must not be missed, not far from a panoramic view of Paris that is...to die for.

G

is for Guimard. His distinctive original Art Nouveau entrance to the metro station at Place des Abbesses, the animated little square which is the heart of the Montmartre community, is a rarity in Paris these days. And it leads you down 280 spiraling steps, past the continuous mural of 20 local artists. Serge Gainsbourg is laid to rest in Montparnasse, and "Gertrude" (Stein) has her special place adjacent to Alice B. Toklas at Père-Lachaise, announcing the "Love that dare not speak its name." Info on Gay Paris, by the way, is one of our specialties...available upon request.

H

is for Hemingway who had haunts near the cemeteries, not particularly highlighted in works about his "moveable feast." We can turn you on to those as we traverse his troubled trails vis-à-vis our essay on the famous memoir. "H" is also for the late Helno, former lead singer of Les Negresses Vertes...with whom our Sylvie once traveled. On rues which will provide, perhaps, a different kind of edge to your experience than what the likes of Héloise, Christian Hahnemann (creator of Homeopathy) and Georges Haussmann (1870 Prefet of the Seine) might give you. By the way, do you know the latter's relationship to the broad boulevards of Paris? And why they are so very wide?

I

is for Ile de la Cité (with or without all the proper accents!), which is the cradle of Paris, geographically at the very heart of the capital. Its history, architecture and remarkable setting make it one of the city's principal attractions...and it's roughly equidistant from the three major cemeteries we frequent. Those who have been to Paris many times --and want an entirely different experience than what's afforded by the City of Light center-- can avail themselves of the delights associated with Cité Internationale Universitaire; we often have access to various cultural events there. It's in nearby Montsouris...which features a glorious park, and the famous Villa Seurat (associated with Henry Miller, Artaud, Soutine, Dali and many others). A peaceful oasis.

J

is for Antoine Laurent de Jussieu, director of the nearby Jardin de Plantes in the 18th-century, and member of the famous French family of botanists; he lies in Montparnasse. The Jardin de Plantes manages to combine culture and pleasure, making science accessible to all. The 4th arrondissement has been Jewish on and off since the 13th-century; districts closer to our cemeteries, however, have interesting Jewish elements which can be explored without much effort. Ditto for Arabic culture, and wonders associated with many other groups too (See the Djemai-inspired tour on our Itinerary page). Louis Jouvet, actor and producer, is in Montmartre; we provide a definitive dissertation on his contributions to French dramatic art...upon request.

K

is for the half-price tickets for many same-day theatre performances, available from nearby Kiosques Theatre; Théâtre Métropole, with which we have a special arrangement, may offer something in English...along experimental lines. Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Kupka and Paul Klee are all represented within easy walking distance of one or more of the cemeteries. Please note that we offer a Kids' Fare package; we're happy to provide tips for those traveling with children...even if you're not part of our program.

L

is for the Luxembourg Gardens; we're one of the only tours that view its statues as a collection. Very good value cuisine is available nearby, and the devine Flowers Cafe has a fine view of the Panthèon...where the remains of Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, Malraux and the Curies rest, among others. Barbara Goldsmith's definitive bio of Marie Curie (Obsessive Genius), by the way, is one of the wonderful works which we recommend without reservation. We take pride in being able to save you much time respecting any pre-trip reading you might do.

M

is for Musèe...as in du Vin, Clemenceau, de l'Homme, de la Marine and des Monuments Français, all five of which are within easy striking distance of Cimetière Passy by place du Trocadéro. Although Giradoux, Manet, Morisot, Debussy and Faure, among others, are laid to rest there, we don't usually venture to its tombs. Nevertheless, it's certainly a nicely condensed area for anyone making use of the Museums and Monuments Pass which we hand out upon arrival; it not only allows free access to all for three days running, no queueing up is necessary for you. Théâtre Métropole --noted under "K" above-- may provide a singular experience for participants.

N

is for Joseph Nachmann, and his book and newspaper shop at 23 rue de Rivoli...where you can learn about the neighborhoods of Paris, especially his in Marais --striking distance from Père-Lachaise-- with all the stories about Trotsky, Chagall et. al. He's also your best lead for other literary luminaires throughout the city. To say nothing about his knowledge of Marais mansions open to the public. Najinksy's tomb and Gerard de Nerval's old haunts are some of our favorite memories.

O

is for the obituary notices we sometimes provide patrons with...of their favorite former living beings; a light touch is often provided by final testaments/statements. In addition, we have access to many interesting historical spots/notes related to Opéra, which the general guide books often neglect. Stories that have circulated surrounding Oscar's funerary art -- as in Montmartre's treatment of Wilde's tomb -- blend laughs with tears...just as his life managed to do.

P

is for Pension. The genuine pension de famille is a threatened species, and the quintessentially French family flat where we sometimes lodge Paris Graves participants is as personal and lovingly cluttered as anything out of Balzac. There are innumerable pictures, portraits, and photographs, statues and plants galore, notices for pensionnaires on flower pots and mantelpieces, a cuckoo clock that has stopped and a superbly-carved grass-green country armoire topped with a motley crew of candlesticks. The other places we put people up aren't too shabby (or overly chic, for that matter) either. Ditto for the tomb of Proust. Which makes us wonder how many visitors to the Eiffel Tower have passed by the striking sculptures of nearby de Passy. For those with a penchant for Perfume --whether or not we have a chance to show you the French industry's secret nooks and crannies-- make it a point to read about early Paris in Patrick Suskind's Das Parfum (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). Arguably, the single best (most recent, personal/literary) take on the capital is Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon.

Q

is for les cousines of the Fountain Quatre-Saisons and Daudelin's fountain at Place du Quebec, little-known lovelies that sprinkle about you, and gush for your pleasure... without spraying on your sweet parade through the capital. In other words, hand-picked springs to share with you following a contemplative session in one of the cemeteries...not before. What will be refreshing surprises.

R

is for everything from Madame Recamier to the cenotaph for Rossini. The former is located in Montmartre and the latter in Père-Lachaise. And in between lies Francois Rude...who too many of our participants don't know about; at least they seem not to know about his relationship to the Arc du Triomphe. His and Rodin's sculpture festoon one of the cemeteries...not too distant from where Mademoiselle Rachel's cries can still be heard.

S

is for rue St.-Vincent, especially at the junction with rue des Saules...one of the most delightful corners of the Butte. Flights of steps drop away mysteriously straight ahead while another road rises steeply beside the tiny cemetery...where Emile Goudeau, founder of the Club Hydropathes, rests among others; his is quite the story! The picturesque charm is further enhanced by the famous Lapin Agile. Are you familiar with comedian Steve Martin's play of the same name? Stendhal rests in Montmartre, and the most fashionable restaurant in the 18th arrondissement is only steps away from an important Berlioz landmark. One of our favorites, J & F Suzanne's entremets au chocolat,is the best of its kind in the Montparnasse area.

T

is for the Tombs of St. Denis Basilica, which houses the remains of kings, queens and royal children, as well as those of leading personalities who served the French court. Study of the aesthetics of funerary art is fascinating, and is arguably the most neglected form of French art. Tristan Tzara (Montparnasse), Thiers (Père-Lachaise) and Truffaut (Montmartre) all offer singular "goodbyes" that beg to be shared.

U

is for the painter Utrillo whose remains are lovingly preserved in Cimetière St.-Vincent, one of the many small "Elysiums" which we sometimes frequent...contingent upon the composition/proclivities of a given set of Paris Graves participants. It's also for various (literal) Underground programs which we can incorporate during sessions, ranging from very mild excursions to extreme ventures.

V

is for Alfred de Vigny, whose biography we contributed to at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_de_Vigny, an example of one kind of submission that'll appear in our Paris Graves Newsletter throughout the year -- and sent to you free of charge -- for a full year, enveloping your Parisian time with us. From Victor Hugo to references in Thomas Pynchon's V,we can provide you with a wide range of surprises on and off the cemetery plots.

W

is for Richard Wright. His resting place is in Père-Lachaise close to Isadora Duncan's tombstone...and that of the "spiritist" Alan Kardec...whose burial ground is much decorated with flowers and other offerings, always (it seems). The three of them serve as the points of departure for our exclusive dissertations on Black History, Women's History and Spiritual History...related to the cemeteries of Paris. "W" is also for Wilde times, of course. See "O" above.

Z

is for Ossip Zadkine, Felix Ziem and Emile Zola. Their burial sites in Paris hold many delights, mysteries. And we trust that the restful "zzzzzzzzzs" you embrace each night will be, partly, the direct result of your enjoyable time with them...and us.

We trust you've gotten into the spirit of Paris Graves by our going through the letters with you.  The mundane A-Z matters of traveling aboad, such as a) when museums really close, b) what electrical adapters to bring, and c) where to exchange currency (for large vs. small transactions), etc. (ad infinitum), are all addressed at our First Night Orientation if not before you leave home.  So no worries, s'il vous plâit.


Contact Paris Graves
Ricard & Sylvie:
408.358.5875
info@parisgraves.com

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