Pere Lachaise

I’ll have a few posts about Paris coming up over the next week. But I’ll start with what turned out to be one of my favourite corners of the French capital.  The Pere Lachaise cemetery. It was almost a pilgrimage for me. And for many others. The cemetery hosts a goodly number of folks who have two or three things in common. Most of them were either wealthy of famous. All of them are very dead. Including Jim Morrison, the front man of The Doors.

I remember my introduction to The Doors well. I was a teenager. I’d probably heard Light My Fire on the radio before, but never taken much notice. After all, this was a band who had their fame before I was born. Jim Morrison had taken up permanent residence at Pere Lachaise a full year before I appeared on the scene. I went round a friends house, finding him relaxed in an armchair listening to some music. He was utterly stoned. I joined him. The CD he was listening to was The Doors soundtrack – the Oliver Stone movie was about to be released.

I loved those tracks the first time I heard them. Maybe the smoke helped, but even so, I don’t often develop an instant appreciation for music. His voice is hypnotic. The lyrics clever. The tunes timeless. What remains of the band still kicks ass.  I really enjoyed the film as well. And the ending, at Pere Lachaise. I’ve always wanted to go. I finally did.

I smoked a legal cigarette as I took in the surroundings and atmosphere. The scene has been altered a little bit since the film. There’s no bust and the area is closed off by metal barriers a few feet from his resting place. But it is still pretty much the same. I imagine it hasn’t changed an awful lot since 1971, bar a few more entries into the cemetery’s Hall of Fame. Unlike, sadly, the rest of Paris. This is an unspoilt corner of the city that has stayed true to the spirit of the metropolis. The graffiti and chewing gum tree would be vandalism elsewhere, but fit in just right here.

I have a few photos of the cemetery on Flickr, and a few more on Instagram. Rest in peace Jim.

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12 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing a part of your trip. It is interesting to read and look up the photos.
    I’m always drawn to the “unspoilt corners” in my travels. Something about the feel of those places…

  • I love the Doors! I’m trying to think when I discovered them but I can’t think… I imagine it was another band that I absorbed from my parents. Those scenes at the end of the Doors movie really touched me too. Did you visit Oscar Wilde??

    • I didn’t, unfortunately, get to see Oscar’s grave. I’ve seen photos, and it looks to be one of the more spectacular ones. But when I checked the map, it was at the furthest possible point from me. And it had started to pour down. I was humming Riders on the Storm, and decided I’d had my moment at Pere Lachaise, and zipped off to the metro for a rest bite from the rain.

  • I broke into music in the 1960’s in Hollywood. I am just going to say this – I knew and worked with Morrison. We met at Bido Litos backstage bar on Ivar in Hollywood. I was working with the band LOVE. Our relationship grew from there – details of which are not important. He was a very complex fellow that battled addictions and some demons in his abbreviated life. He was not always the most cheerful or stable guy. When a person dies at 27 it is hard to imagine who that person might have become as this is the first stages of adult life. His legacy of course is his music – a talent that needed no further maturity to exhibit greatness. Perhaps his idol persona is magnified by his short life like James Dean, Janis Joplin and many others? I’m glad you had the opportunity to take some photos in Paris and remind me of Morrison – his premature death is truly sad.

    • How fascinating John. I noticed that with many of the people I went to uni with, the brighter their stars shone, the more unstable, unpredictable and troubled they were, and the sooner they burned out. Not all of them survived it either.

    • Thanks for the comment – it’s tough trying to reply to it. It’d be easy to say I’m jealous – I am, of course. But I’m sure, absolutely certain, that there’s good and bad sides to stories like these. But there’s a hell of a story you have here amigo. I know you say the details aren’t important, but I’d love to hear them one day, all the same. Perhaps if one day you find yourself with extra time and little to write about, you’ll tell the story on your blog.

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