Sunday, July 29, 2007
Pay Your Respects to the Dead
Late one day a few years back, while I was out for a bike ride through Paris, I turned a corner and found myself outside the walls of one of the most famous graveyards in the world. I was alone. The sun was sinking, and the air reeked of rain. But I decided to stop and take a tour. What followed was one of the most unnerving experiences of my life.
Many of France's most famous citizens have been laid to rest in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which opened in 1804. Seventy years later, the sprawling city of the dead was the site of a brutal massacre that claimed 147 lives and haunts the country to this day.
The terrible history of Pere Lachaise, along with its narrow, winding paths and macabre tombs make it a place best explored with a friend or a bodyguard. Fortunately, you can now take this amazing virtual tour from safety of your own bedroom. For the full experience, I recommend visiting the site late at night with the lights turned off.