Do you love cemeteries as much as I do ???
With Halloween coming up, what better time than now to discuss cemeteries!
I love cemeteries… Is that strange ? It’s the everyday history of everyday lives in everyday places… I love French cemeteries especially because of the age of the cemeteries, the beauty of the architecture and adornments, and the peacefulness of the surroundings…
I particularly love to wander the gravel paths reading gravestones and pondering the occupant’s lives. Tombstones in France can tell you so much about a person’s life (Did they live a long life? Were they married? How did they die? Who did they leave behind?). So many hopes and dreams that lie buried. “A warm touch upon cold hard stone”… Perhaps in some way our visits brings solace to those buried there.
People have been honoring their dead since ancient times. The Great Pyramids of Egypt are an amazing example of the importance we put into honoring our deceased. I’ve personally had an inherent fascination for cemeteries and have been visiting and dragging along unsuspecting folks for years. I’ve never found cemeteries to be creepy or morbid – instead I find them emotional and moving. The echoes of time reverberate throughout…
One of the most famous and beautiful French cemeteries is in the city of Paris – the Père Lachaise cemetery created in 1804. There you will find many famous buried people such as Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf, and Jim Morrison. Just in case you were wondering, there is a waiting list to be buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery and you must be French or have died while living in Paris to be buried there.
If you are out visiting cemeteries, please don’t forget your “Graveyard Etiquette” (maybe the occupants don’t mind anymore but the families and grounds people do).
- Observe all posted rules.
- Stay out of cemeteries after dark.
- Keep your speed on cemetery roads to posted limits. Turn off your car stereo.
- Keep a respectful silence. Speak to your companions in a low tone of voice. Be friendly and courteous to all that you meet.
- Do not move or remove anything from a grave. Leave no evidence of your visit.
- Do not use cemeteries as a picnic spot, campground, or lover’s lane.
- Do not stand on fragile stones as your weight may crack or snap the stone.
- Do not apply shaving cream to tombstone for rubbings as the chemicals damage the stone.
- Photographing cemeteries or mourners is a taboo in certain cultures.
So is it odd that I love cemeteries??? Apparently not so odd… There is actually even a word for those that like cemeteries – “Taphophile”- also known as “Tombstone tourists”, “Cemetery Enthusiasts”, “Grave Hunters” or “Gravers” depending on the exact area of interest. Essentially, Taphophile’s have a fascination for the history, architecture, ornamentation, epitaphs sayings, photography, and famous tombs in cemeteries. Believe it or not, some people plan vacations around visiting cemeteries, and there are even tour operators specializing in cemetery visits.
Personally I prefer visiting cemeteries in person, but since Halloween is coming up and you might be looking for something creepy to zing up your Halloween evening, here are a few virtual resources:
- Paris Cemeteries Website
- Taphophile Blog
- Taphophile Website
- Find A Grave – a database with 36 million burial records. Family members can add biographical details, virtual flowers, and upload portraits or headstone photos.
- Virtual Lawn (kind of like a Facebook for the dead)
- Famous Last words repository
When I depart the living, I’m hoping for one of those spectacular architectural tombs on a plot overlooking a peaceful green valley.
-Girl Gone Gallic