You Can Stay If You’d Like: Graves, Angels, and Heavenly Pancakes at B.I.A

November 17, 2009

I am having a really hard time figuring out what this entry should be about. My Friday excursion to Le Père Lachaise cemetary (the largest in Paris) has the best pictures, my Saturday Sweet Briar trip to Reims and the cathedral there (known for L’ange au Sourire or the “smiling angel” statue) has the most cultural merit, but the best part of my weekend was eating dinner Saturday at Breakfast In America in Paris. Hmm.

I can’t pick just one. So I’ll try and keep to the necessary information!

~Thursday was medieval dancing, and for the first time I was able to wear my dress. It made dancing with Gaspard and Loïc (my two partners for the evening) even more fun!

Gaspard snapped this picture of me dancing, and looking really happy! (Loïc is concentrating and looking at his feet behind me)

~Friday I went to  Le Père Lachaise cemetery with Andy (Caroline met us later) which is as mentioned the largest in Paris. It is 105 acres, and it is absolutely fascinating! Most people visit because of all of the famous people buried there. I wasn’t able to see all of the graves that I wanted to, despite being there for several hours, which means that I will have to go back again!  I cannot begin to tell you how many well known people are buried there, but the list on the map I purchased is extensive! Andy and I visited the graves of Molière (French playwright), Chopin (composer), La Fontaine (French writer), Jim Morrison (singer, The Doors), Ingres (French painter), Oscar Wilde (writer), and Edith Piaf (French singer).

I was shocked at how lively and full of beauty and love the cemetery was. There was not much doom and gloom,  it was more like hide and go seek to find the tombs, there are people and flowers and messages about eternal life and eternal love everywhere, and there are streets lined with mausoleums that are like lovely subdivision neighborhoods. Just of dead people. I took a ton of pictures, and I’ll post my favorites below.

Oh, one last thing. There is a tradition (nobody knows why it started, they just know it exists) of kissing Oscar Wilde’s tomb and leaving lipstick marks on the stone as a sign of affection for the man or his writing or appreciation or just a friendly “Hello Oscar!”. In case his name doesn’t ring a bell, he wrote The Importance of Being Earnest, and also-my personal favorite-The Picture of Dorian Gray. Caroline and I participated in this, and only after did I learn by doing internet research that his family abhors this practice as disrespectful and damaging to the tomb. As an art history major I understand the preservation of the monument part, but at the same time, if I were Oscar Wilde, I would much prefer hundreds of kisses to a cold stone weathered only by the biting wind and stinging rain.  But maybe that’s just me.

Chopin's Tomb

Jim Morrison-amongst the flowers are lyrics, unsmoked cigarettes, and partially empty bottles of liquor. "Break on through to the other side"

Husband and Wife

Edith Piaf (and family)-"La Vie En Rose"

Oscar!

The Most Well-Loved Tomb in Paris

Yes, those are all kisses!

We had finally decided to leave after 2 or 3 hours when we ran into the strange American man who had sold me a cemetery map. He looked at us and asked “Leaving already? You know, you can stay if you like.” -I told him I wasn’t quite ready to take up a permanent residence yet, and we quickly walked away! I think he’s spent a little too much time around people who can’t talk back…

Friday night was spent at dinner and a movie with my host sister, Ariane! It was really nice to spend time with just her. Dinner was MacDo and the movie was American with French Subtitles, but the evening still felt very French! I absolutely loved having a girls night out though, and I am already searching for films so I can plan our next one!

~Saturday was the all day trip to Reims, which was organized by my program. They started the visit with a tour of the Pommery champagne cellars where they age all of their bubbly! The tour was interesting, and the cellars were absolutely gorgeous, but by far the best part was the glass of fabulous champagne after we learned all about the process of making it!

The descent into the cellars

A room full of aging bottles-yes, that sign does mean that there are 66,906 bottles in just that section. Oh, and they were all put there by HAND

Aisha, Lucy, Caroline, and Andy with their glasses of Pommery!

After that was the cathedral. It was big, it was ornate, and it has been through several wars, which have left their marks to this day. Unfortunately the stained glass windows have suffered the most over the years, and the mix of original, contemporary, and “well we need to put glass there so let’s just use this” glass, is distracting and clearly not well thought out. But the Smiling Angel statue on the facade was still lovely!

L'Ange au Sourire (on the left if you can't tell!)

Once we arrived back in Paris we were really hungry! We ended up taking several detours, a long metro ride, and then waiting an hour to get in, but we were finally able to get the dinner we’d been hoping for during the entire bus ride back from Reims. Dinner at Breakfast In America! It is an American diner in Paris (there is one on the left bank and one on the right) and it is everything I ever dreamed of and more! The menus are in English, all the waitstaff speaks English, they have a jukebox and play music from the 1950’s-70’s, they make real milkshakes, and they serve breakfast ALL DAY LONG.  I have been craving a big American breakfast for months now, and the scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes (with bananas, blackberries, sunflower seeds, and tons of butter and  syrup) was just what I needed! The milkshake was also just what I needed. And so were the rest of Amelia’s fries and the remainder of her nacho…I ate too much. But it was so delicious and homey and American. *sigh* I cannot wait to go back! Oh, and we even got to tip the waiter!

mmmmmm!!!!!!

~Sunday was finally a day of rest. I hibernated in my snuggie all day, doing homework, reading, and resting my very tired legs! But Sunday night was a fantastic way to end the weekend, even though it meant getting out of bed! I met up with Alex who was in town again for the weekend, this time with her parents! it was SO good to see not only one of my best friends, but some of her family too! I was in need of American parent hugs, which they both gave immediately! After the hugs they took me out to a really fabulous dinner at Buddha Bar where we ate sushi and talked about our recent international experiences! It was so good to see all of them, and it made me even more excited for when my family comes to visit over Christmas! A bientôt!

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One Response to “You Can Stay If You’d Like: Graves, Angels, and Heavenly Pancakes at B.I.A”

  1. grandma said

    just want to let you know that Grandpa and I have so much fun reading your adventures.

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