d'Entre les Morts

Posted: Nov 21, 2003 8:17:29 PM


First of all, this is what we ate in Berlin. Looks tasty, don't it?

Second of all, Super Bonus Points for the person who first identifies what the reference in the title is (and no cheating by looking it up in a search engine! and I may have to disqualify Fruitbat right now, as she's too damn clever). I'm actually calling this report 'd'Entre les Morts' because I seem to be unintentionally running into the dead everywhere I go in Paris.

One of my first stops upon hitting the streets was to go under them, to the famous Paris Catacombes. At the end of the 18th Century the graveyards of Paris were running out of room, so the enterprising administration decided to dig up all the old dead people and collate them in an ossuary (that is, a vault for bones). So they took the skeletons, gave them a clean, and then stacked them in large piles in a huge underground complex.

Huge? Oh yes. Imagine a corridor with bones, six or seven metres deep on either side, with the femurs and skulls being given pride of place on the exterior, arranged in artistic patterns. Got that? Okay, now imagine that this corridor, though it turns and twists, is one and a half kilometres long. For you imperial types, that's one mile of crypt, several hundred thousand skeletons. Enter the dead.

For some reason one of the other sites that I went to see was the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and I had an amusing time spotting the various celebrities that are interred there. Chopin, for example. Abelard and Heloise (although I doubt anyone will know who they are unless I say that they made a cameo appearance as puppets in 'Being John Malkovich') were buried side by side. The two most interesting tombs, however, were those of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Oscar's tomb was covered in lipstick marks, and Jim's in lyrical grafitti. Hmmm... "I am the lizard king, I can do anything" is nice, but I think that the creepy "You can ring my bell at the dead rock star hotel" is the reason there's a guard standing next to the tombstone.

And then there's the Pantheon, another site of interest that was on the itinerary. Famous dead people there: Rousseau, Voltaire, Hugo, Dumas, Zola, (Dumas' tomb was higher than the other two authors - J'accuse!), Braille (yes, there's an inscription in braille), and the Curies (whose crypt gave off an eerie glow). A little further on: the Hotel Des Invalides. A hospital? Well, yes, but it's also the final resting place of Napoleon I. His tomb is placed so that you either have to look up to it or bow down to see it, but I pointedly did neither. I also made fun of his hat, which is on display at the adjacent military museum. Take that, tyrant.

I'd hate for you to think that I'm doing some kind of Tour of Death here in Paris, but there's not much point describing the Louvre (the Mona Lisa! the Venus de Milo! both with a rather bored expression, I have to say), the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame (which is five minutes' walk away from my hostel), the Rodin Park (The Thinker!), and the Pompidou Centre, because any description I gave them would be useless in comparison to actually experiencing these places. I can say that they are amazing, and that everyone should go and see them right now, but that's about it.

And when you do go and see them, be sure to go in style. I luckily happened upon a new tour being run in Paris (it has been going about six months now) which was extremely high in novelty value: tour by Segway. Now, for those of you who have never heard of these contraptions I suggest you do a websearch, but basically imagine a platform with two wheels and handlebars that never tips over and can be moved at a brisk pace just by leaning forwards. It is incredibly fun, and ridiculously easy to use.

The tour itself was rather haphazard, of course (I believe that I knew more about Paris than the - American - guide, and spoke better French, too), but that is only to be expected when the highlight of the expedition is the mode of transportation. We were quite a spectacle, and a fair few tourists stopped to gape, stare, (not-so-)subtly glace sideways, smile broadly, wave, point, and take photos as we Segwayed by. When the four hours were up we didn't want to get off. Oh well, next time I'm in Paris I'll con someone else into coming, and I'll go again.

Tomorrow, Versailles. After that, I shall have to leave, probably to take the high speed train to Lyon.

I shall avoid going to any more cemeteries.


Comments:

Sahi   Nov 21, 2003 9:03:18 PM

It kinda reminds me of a book by Sartre about a rich woman and a poor guy only meeting each other after they die and then get another chance at life just to prove that they could have made it together.

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 21, 2003 9:32:24 PM

Isn´t it "I see London, I see France" or do I have the wrong reference?

The picture of the locust sure brings back fond memories. Yumyumyum !!

There are in fact six or seven million dead people in the catacombs and you missed the Cimetière Montmarte where Francois Truffaut is buried only 20 meters or so from Heinrich Heine and then of course, there´s also the Cimetière des Chiens... :)

Lyon is cool too. Very hilly, I think and my most lasting memories are the maze-like courtyards and some dimwit driving her car over my left foot, almost maiming me for life. It was a tourist of course.

Sahi   Nov 21, 2003 9:38:53 PM

The locust doesn't seem as bad as I imagined them to be.

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 21, 2003 9:50:47 PM

It was really tasty. Next time, I´ll try the worms.

Siobhan   Nov 21, 2003 11:52:48 PM

Eating bugs makes baby jesus cry. Or do you even care? Hmph.

Siobhan   Nov 21, 2003 11:53:36 PM

Also, are you talking about the underpants thing or what?

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 22, 2003 12:30:54 AM

There are worms in your underpants?

Charlotte   Nov 22, 2003 12:44:28 AM

Eeeeeuuuuw! *Administers worming tablets to all and sundry*

*writhes in jealousy* I wanna visit exciting overseas places!

And, oh yeah, I just remembered a memory so traumatic that it has been buried in the recesses of my mind until now: I disected a locust (and a cockroach) once at uni to have a look at the parasites living in its gut. Niiiiice! No way I could ever eat one now without remembering that. *shudders*

Siobhan   Nov 22, 2003 12:55:56 AM

"I see paris, I see france, I see someone's underpants"

Except bugs don't wear underpants. And Ellis only wears them on his head.

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 22, 2003 1:08:48 AM

The bugs or the underpants?

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 22, 2003 1:18:02 AM

I wasn´t thinking underpants. I was thinking that grocery day is a very dangerous day, because you end up eating bugs - or something ...

Btw, the parasites don´t worry me. The locust had been fried in a pan which means its parasites got fried too and therefore were just as nutricious as the locust itself. They didn´t even charge us extra for the additional protein. :)

strangeshe   Nov 22, 2003 2:26:13 AM

& didn't his underwear kill your computer or something? ;)

Erm, I'll pass on the bug food, thanks.
But the Segway tour sounds delightful!
And I'd kinda like to do the dead people tour, too. Sounds fascinating :)

strangeshe   Nov 22, 2003 2:26:48 AM

Oh, to clarify: Siobhan's computer or something ;)

*L*

Siobhan   Nov 22, 2003 4:13:57 AM

They did! I was hoping they had ninja turtles on them or something, and then when I tried to see my whole browser just crashed. That's because they were unholy. The underwear, not the ninja turtles. Although now that I think about it...

In non underpants related news, only three days! Hee!

dragondawn   Nov 22, 2003 12:00:42 PM

hey! paradamon hit a couple of the things i mentioned! not cuz i mentioned them, i dun think. *grins* ooh, and i'd forgotten to mention dead jim's grave. when i was there, there was no guard, just a quiet parade of gawkers. the only other famous person's grave i saw there was colette's. i wish i'd know oscar wilde was buried there...alas, i had jim on the brain.

and i know who abelard and heloise are, and not cuz of 'being john malkovich', either. hmph. *grins again*

*shakes from smarchwithdrawl, waits for latest damonpost*

Peter   Nov 22, 2003 2:16:23 PM

*points at the comments for the previous report*
Smarchy info there... :(
(and guthwulf's as well, so you probably know that already...)

Damon   Nov 22, 2003 3:33:47 PM

Most of these replies I shall *not* be commenting on. At all. And the reference is in the proper title, not the sub-title.

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 22, 2003 4:35:55 PM

Ok, I cheated - not that it helped me any. Is this reference in some way scandinavian maybe? Biblical? Egyptian? Babylonian? Sumerian? Monty Python? I bet there´s a cuneiform tablet to be found in there somewhere. :)

Siobhan   Nov 22, 2003 10:09:30 PM

Door of the dead? Door of death? Which made me think of 'paths of the dead' which proves I'm a nerd. Death's Door? This is assuming that I'm interpreting it correctly, which isn't likely.

FraZ   Nov 22, 2003 10:24:18 PM

dumb England, not Gracious in winning.& we wont hear the end of it.... rugby

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 23, 2003 12:39:37 AM

I think the translation would be "among the dead" and it´s neither Tolkien nor scandinavian or sumerian. Got it now, hehe.

Charlotte   Nov 23, 2003 1:20:34 AM

I think I might know, but I am happy to confess that I cheated shamelessly in order to find out. I wouldn't have gotten it anyway, because like I deduced, the subject (in general) is one that I know nothing about, but one that Damon and Captain Roberto T Fruitbat can talk about for hours.

Of course I could be barking mad and talking complete rubbish. *walks along edge of seventh floor balcony singing and dancing* Vertigo? What's that? I'm not going to fall, I can fllyyyyyyyyyyyyy.......

Damon   Nov 23, 2003 8:33:42 PM

Oo, Fruitbat and Charlotte have spotted it, proving themselves to be very clever people. Also: am in Lyon, on another one of those wacky French keyboards.

Irishmen   Nov 24, 2003 12:02:23 AM

Funny, today i had to go to court for jury service, I didnt get called thou, but still. its ok thou, i mean i\the trial was abotu some dude & how he m,ade up alot of stuff, to do with money. so im not gutted, i mean, come on at least if you gonan break the law, go nuts.

Sam   Nov 24, 2003 3:31:38 AM

So I get my computer in working order, and I decide that a little Smarching can't hurt me. Within a week, *this* happens. *sigh* maybe it's a sign from God that I should leave all you people alone. That said, do any of you guys have AIM, or ICQ, MSN or one of those programs? I just put Trillian on my computer, so chances are, if you've got it, I can talk to it... And I need SOME way to procrastinate...

Sahi   Nov 24, 2003 9:11:49 AM

Hiya Sam, I've got ICQ (241781838). But most of us can be found at guthwulf.com

Charlotte   Nov 24, 2003 3:26:49 PM

*bounces* Yay! I did get it right! Thanks Mr Google!

Howzabout dropping us a few more tantalising hints of your recent activities?

Damon   Nov 24, 2003 6:51:38 PM

Er, had a nice day in Lyon - saw the first film, and stood in the spot where it was shot! - and tomorrow I am training to Florence.

Agnes   Nov 25, 2003 4:10:22 AM

Ooo...God, that little black thing in the plate looks pretty disgusting...Damon, have u tried the French snail? hehehehe

Siobhan   Nov 25, 2003 5:03:57 AM

God, dont encourage him.

I heard it's raining over yonder. Bah. FYI, I'll check here and my email one more time around 9:30 my time, so if you come up with some last minute essentials, that'd be the deadline.

Damon   Nov 25, 2003 5:43:49 AM

E-mail!

Siobhan   Nov 25, 2003 7:43:30 AM

AM? Jesus dude, aren't you tired? Replied. See you in...*thinks*... a bunch of hours.

Sahi   Nov 25, 2003 8:58:21 AM

Btw, Siobhan, you now have a cameo in my Nano-story. I like your name and it fits in with the names of the rest of the characters...

Captain Roberto T. Fruitbat   Nov 25, 2003 5:09:37 PM

Oh boy, my brain only just caught up with this. Is there still a factory? Something to commemorate the event? A little monument maybe or a sign saying: "This is where it all started. Hollywood, eat your heart out." or something?

Siobhan   Nov 25, 2003 6:31:50 PM

Argh! The hideous unholy name!

Okay I'm taking off now. Of note: I'm wearing my St. Christopher medal, so if my plane crashes, someone has to dedicate their life to proving he's not really a saint.

Damon   Nov 25, 2003 7:43:07 PM

I shall start right now, if it gives you any satisfaction. Although if you are reading this then it means I shouldn't.

Fruitbat: there's quite a decent little museum (the Lumiere Museum, appropriately), they have preserved the factory doors as best they can (i.e. encased in glass and steel) and there's a little light in the middle of the street marking where the camera was. I stood there to take the photo, and also bought a 1hr video of about seventy of their most famous pieces, including that first one. I hope my TV and video back home can handle the wacky French Secam format.

Damon   Nov 25, 2003 7:56:02 PM

Also: if Irishmen and Fraz are one and the same (can't keep up with the pseudonyms) that is entirely too cool! If not, who are you, and what are you doing here?

Also also: no, I have not tried snails. I did see a little restaurant that was serving them (and frogs' legs!) in Luxembourg, but I figured I'd save that experience for France, and when I got to France I couldn't find any. Oh well, when I go back there next week I will try again.

Fraz   Nov 25, 2003 10:12:13 PM

hee hee hee hee, stupid irishmen

Damon   Nov 26, 2003 1:27:58 PM

You've watched '12 Angry Men' too many times.

By the way, next new report being written right now...

AJ   Dec 3, 2003 2:11:17 PM

So how did you like Versailles ?
Did you see Napoleon's rooms?
And Marie Antoinette's village where she played at being a milk maid?
I walked to it and crossed the little bridge over the 'lake' I remember it was spring and there were hanging baskets and planters everywhere with masses of pale pink pelagoniums. Very pretty.
My word. Damon, you're a great memory aid! :D

Damon   Dec 4, 2003 6:36:05 PM

Versailles was nifty, but I'm sorta palaced-out by now, so I skipped Mary Antoinette's village (although I did stand in the place where she was beheaded).


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