This week, Chris and I were in need of some quiet.
Don’t get me wrong: urban living is great. To be able to step through our door and immediately become part of the hustle and bustle is exhilarating, the fulfillment of a 15 year old dream from the heart of this urbanite wannabe. But, everyone needs a break from the noise every once in a while, a break from the car horns and sirens, the click-clack of shoes on concrete, the constant chatter from bars and cafés. Sometimes, you need to hear bird song or wind in the trees… or just hear yourself think.
Chris and I are discovering that there are actually many places to go in Paris to find peaceful refuge, places that are pleasantly off the beaten path and not riddled with tourists. (I’d like to think that we’ve passed over the tourist threshold by this point!) One such place is the beautiful Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, a 110-acre garden cemetery in East Paris. Located on a lovely, tree-covered hill, it contains the gravesites of many notable people including writers Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde, painter Théodore Gericault, and musicians Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, and Jim Morrison.
Now, I know spending the afternoon strolling through a cemetery might not sound very pleasant. But there is nothing morbid or disturbing about the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. On the contrary: it may just be the most peaceful place we have found yet. Trees tower over the cobblestone paths and gravestones, their yellow leaves crunching underfoot. Extravagant stone chapels with stained-glass windows provide a place to sit and pray or visit loved ones. A cat is perched on a step, enjoying the sun and the cool, autumn air. And it is quiet. Blissfully and wonderfully quiet.