Growing up, my summers were spent on the sunny Shuswap Lake in British Columbia, Canada, sipping Cream Soda, swimming for hours, and playing cards in the evening. It was absolute perfection, the stuff of nostalgia, and as hard as I try it is impossible to duplicate as a grown up.
However, always wanting to instill a good work ethic in their children, my parents made sure that summer vacation wasn’t a complete holiday. We had chores, hauling water and picking rocks off the beach were my least favorite, and without running water or a septic system we also lacked some of the basic comforts at home.
As such, my dad built an outhouse for use when nature called, and plastered posters along the interior to help distract my brother and I from the (hundreds) of spiders that soon made it home. Amongst others was an 80’s Lamborghini, a magazine pull-out of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease, and on the inside of the door, right at eye level, was an over sized poster of Jim Morrison’s headstone. A bit morbid perhaps, but that poster became just as much a part of my summers at the lake as building sand castles, catching minnows, and learning to water ski.
And this is where everything begins to loop back into a trip through Europe fifteen years or so later because, as it turns out, Jim Morrison is buried in Paris’ Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Needless to say, when it came time to plan our trip I quickly added a visit to our “to-do list”.
Located in the 20th arrondissement, Pere Lachaise Cemetary was opened in 1804 and is 44 hectares in size, making it the largest in Paris. With many crumbling headstones and moss covered mini-chapels, the cemetery is actually quite beautiful in a lonely and hauntingly romantic way. As we strolled along the uneven brick paths, it was easy to pick out the forgotten residents – their cracked headstones and cobwebbed chapel doors are a sure sign no one has visited for awhile. However, more difficult to decipher was the age of some of the residents, as many headstones have been worn smooth by the elements.
With many famous people buried there (Proust, Wilde, and Chopin), Pere Lachaise is actually frequented by many curious tourists (like us) and provides a map of it’s more prominent grave-sites. Unfortunately for us the maps were located at the main entrance, and we entered from the side. Despite this, finding Jim Morrison’s final resting place was actually relatively easy.
Due to the rock star’s loyal and rambunctious fan base, a guard rail has been set up to dissuade people from having sex on, taking drugs off of, or vandalizing the tomb stone (apparently all, and more, have occurred in the past). However, we still saw a couple people easily jump the rail to place candles or joints on the headstone and pose for the necessary photos.
After snapping a few photos ourselves we set off to wander again, leaving the Lizard King to rest in peace.
Have you taken the time to explore a cemetery while traveling? What’s you’re take on this – creepy or cool?