French cemetaries

Today is 27°C, very dry, dusty and hot with an elevated and unhealthy pollution index.  I’m sick of pollution – air, noise, water, food.  I want to retire to the high plains of New Mexico and live under an endless, unpolluted, blue sky.  I want to smell the piñon and live in space, clean air and silence (my apartment overlooks a road that is noisy and congested).

I’ve only been to New Mexico twice, but loved it intensely both times.  On both trips there I arrived by train – the first was on the Amtrak Southwest Chief that originated in NYC and passed through Chicago (I was on that train for two days), and the second trip was on the overnight from Los Angeles. I can’t wait to go again.  But I don’t think I’ll take the train; I’ll probably fly into Albuquerque then make my way to Santa Fe.

These photos are not of Santa Fe, but of a cemetary in France –

Neuilly, Sept 27, 2014 009
Neuilly, Sept 27, 2014 022Neuilly, Sept 27, 2014 019cemetary sept 20, 2014 040

In my neighbourhood there are several beautiful parks, not to mention the Seine river at the foot of my street, but I’ve recently discovered a new refuge in which to sit and write my book project undisturbed. The municipal cemetary.  At the end of an alley and past a trio of chubby cherubs is a bench where I can sit in complete silence. And solitude! I was the only person there this afternoon.  That is, me and a thousand souls.  However it became SO HOT, I had to leave.  Some people might find it odd to sit in a cemetary, but I find it peaceful.  Here’s the bench below, under a tree whose name, I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t know. (I’ve been meaning to buy a tree book for 15 years now.)

cemetary sept 20, 2014 017cemetary sept 20, 2014 015cemetary sept 20, 2014 027cemetary sept 20, 2014 030

French cemetaries, with their sepulchrals and family burial vaults, are not like English or North American ones. They are far more ornate, well-tended, regimented, and sacrosanct.  I think I’ve just described the Catholic Church.

cemetary sept 20, 2014 034cemetary sept 20, 2014 037
Neuilly, Sept 27, 2014 030

I’ve just learned that the famous Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky, master of abstract expressionism is buried here.  I had no idea.  I’ll have to go back and find his plot.

It’s now later in the day, we had a terrific rainstorm and the temperature plunged 8 degrees.

For anyone interested in glamorous train travel, here’s a super article I found (with great photos) recounting the glory days of the THE SUPER CHIEF – “THE TRAIN OF THE STARS” – that ran from Chicago/NYC to Los Angeles throughout the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

6 thoughts on “French cemetaries

    • I remember reading an article, years ago, in an old Gourmet magazine about Mount Desert Island. It sounded beautiful. Too many places to visit…not enough time! Yes, I love Paris, too, Jim, but I’ve been here 20 years now. Getting restless….

  1. New Mexico – have you visited the White Sands National Monument? Or there’s the UFO museum or the Anderson Contemporary Art Museum in Roswell.

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