Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Weird Tomb


I found this incredible tombin the Cimetière Montparnasse. At first I could not really believe my eyes... But yes, this guy had his grave turned into a sort of bed where he and his wife are dressed in their day outfits and look like they are gently talking. I investigated a bit more and found out that it belongs to Charles Pigeon, the inventor of a famous non-exploding gas/oil lamp (patented in1884). He probably had a lot of money then (enough to have this tomb built!)

75 comments:

  1. Bibi's up howling at the moon. But not in this cemetery.

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  2. Arf! Got the Golden Paw again! Ow-woooo!

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  3. OK, I'll not flee as long as you can assure me that Bibi is not ferocious.

    Speaking of fleeing, I'm not sure I'd want to see Charles Pigeon getting out of bed like that in dim moonlight. But with Bibi above as protection I would fear not while taking in the sight of that impressive grave.

    Must go. Have to scratch flea bites (not from Bibi, of course!).

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  4. Eric, I think instead of gently talking they are having a "grave" conversation.

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  5. Bibi
    I m going to be curel and steal it from you because ACTUALLY to qualify for the GF you have to have two full lines of relevant comment.

    Eric
    This is a most unusual find. It makes me wonder what made him built this sort of memorial and the romantic me thinks is something to do with love for his wife.
    I also like the angel standing in the headboard as if it was blessing them both.
    Not sure about the flower/plant container on the sides... they look a little odd in there.
    Thanks to you, next time I go to Paris I will be spending more time in the cemiteries.

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  6. What a beautiful piece of artwork and memorial. So creative.

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  7. What I find curious is that he appears to be holding a small notebook (a Moleskine, perhaps?) and a pen.

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  8. I'm hesitating between artistic and creative ... or just creepy. Maybe a little of both.

    I always wonder a little bit about people who think their bodies deserve to rest eternally under the most elaborate monuments.

    Not too long ago, there was a funny (unusual) article in the paper, here in the SF Bay Area. People decided to throw a party to "meet the [eternal] neighbors," that is they wanted to meet the people who had bought the space next to them. Also a little weird for me, but then again why not.

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  9. Eric, this is the grave I mentioned on your May 16 post of Leon Gaumont! Tall Gary was kind enough to provide a link to it then - hee hee - I'm so glad everyone gets to see it now.

    I had heard of this grave in one of my tour books, so my friend Grace & I went there to seek it out. I know it's tourist-tacky, but we couldn't resist taking photos of ourselves next to the couple in bed!!

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  10. Here you go

    http://tinyurl.com/5g3eyt

    (meet the neighbors)

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  11. Eric, Great photo & great grave. Someone compiled a list of the top ten graves in Paris. Here's their list:
    1. Jim Morrison, Père Lachaise Cemetery
    2. Oscar Wilde, Père Lachaise Cemetery
    3. Fredéric Chopin, Père Lachaise Cemetery
    4. Edith Piaf, Père Lachaise Cemetery
    5. Marcel Proust, Père Lachaise Cemetery
    6. Samuel Beckett, Montparnasse Cemetery
    7. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Montparnasse Cemetery
    8. Guy de Maupassant, Montparnasse Cemetery
    9. Charles Baudelaire, Montparnasse Cemetery
    10. Charles Pigeon Family, Montparnasse Cemetery

    For my money nothing can top the Pigeon Family grave.

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  12. Kelly's observation is interesting. Maybe this is tacit acknowledgment of his wife's participation in the ideas he put forth, and that he was "forever" grateful.

    It also reminds me of a Roman burial tomb along a roadside in Turkey, which had frieze showing a man and woman reclining in their togas on a divan, with the man situated higher as this one is, for visibility. Sort of a happy family snapshot immortalized with them.

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  13. Okay, I hate to bring this up again, but I can't believe David's list is missing the grave of Victor Noir. ; )

    Uselaine, his recognition of his wife's encouragement, support or even ideas were my thoughts exactly.

    Or maybe she was dictating a "Honey do" list.

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  14. I love this! He wanted the world to know that he loved his wife so much and he wanted to spend eternity with her like this!! Very cool.

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  15. Eric, interesting post. So when you 'found' this, were you just passing through; taking a shortcut; site-seeing by design? And I wonder who plants the flowers. It is indeed an incredible piece of art.

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  16. "Honey, do try my design solution for making a better lamp. The last explosion burned my eyebrows off!"

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  17. It's rather lovely isn't it, this grave. Romantic.

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  18. Thanks for going to the cimetière for us, Eric. Or as Salem Oregon asked, were you taking a short-cut, perhaps? Or is Paris still an adventure for you? I hope so.

    The grave looked familiar to me but I haven't been to the Cimetière Montparnasse. But thanks to Pont Girl, now I know it was Tall Gary's link I remembered. A fascinating photo, and grave. Who keeps the flowers fresh in the planters, I wonder?

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  19. Petrea, It's amazing how many fresh flowers ones finds on so many graves in Paris. Not just Jim Morrison or Edith Piaf, and not just the graves of the recently departed. It’s a very touching, perhaps reassuring sight in a busy world.

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  20. Awww, I just think it's the sweetest thing!

    Why am I doing nothing in class? Oh that's right, apparently we have nothing to do...again. Well worth my money, let me tell you. :(

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  21. Cimetiere art/sculpture -- I love it. And why not, so many cultures since the beginning of time have done monumental works of art commemorating the dead or departing. It looks like he is lying on her tomb, not his. How romantic. They look so much in love -- everlasting. I remember when this link was posted a while back here on PDP -- it wasn't too long ago. I think the family keeps up the flowers in the flower boxes.

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  22. Good one Eric!! It looks as if there are still some family members around taking care of the crypt since the flowers in the planters look quite fresh. I still think this tomb has a bit of competition from Dalida at Montmartre or even Rudolf Nureyev..

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  23. Ohhh...zoot! Let's try that Nureyev link again!! Must be a ghost! ;-)

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  24. Kelly -- I was thinking the exact same thing! At first, I thought he was supposed to be reading to her, until i saw that he had a pen in his right hand -- then I thought maybe he was writing love poems to her in his moleskin. On the other hand, she doesn't really look all that happy . . . oh, wait, elle est morte.
    There are some people in this cimetiere who meant a lot to me: a literary hero, Baudelaire; neighbors from back when, Sartre & deBeauvoir; a friend (from the same epoque), Serge Gainsbourg.
    And let's not forget Antoine Bourdelle, from Eric's May 24 post.

    pont girl -- I remember you mentioning this interesting grave. Thanks, Eric, for making your way here and showing it to us.

    David -- do you know who compiled that list? It's good, but what about Abelard & Heloise, together at last in Pere Lachaise? And have you seen Jim Morrison's gravesite? Seriously, not so beautiful. What makes it stand out are all the young kids on a pilgrimage to visit it (interesting, actually, because many of the ones I've seen there are young enough to have been his grandchildren).

    uselaine -- you're a hoot.

    Christie -- did you type your comment yourself?

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  25. Anonyme -- I just have to say that we don't really know if it's a grave conversation -- it's too cryptic. ;}

    I think the monument is really romantic, too, though - I like it.

    And, Eric seems to be everywhere at once. Thanks for trooping all over Paris for us.

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  26. I was so glad to see that Pont Girl might have influenced Eric on May 16 in the taking of this photo. Way to go Pont Girl!

    Kelly got me curious about Victor Noir's grave site. Interesting that it isn't just the patina on his shoes that has been rubbed away by caressing fingertips.

    Non-exploding gas? What did Charles Pigeon do at frat parties?

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  27. I would really love to know what the premise was behind this "monumental" idea. The sculptor really went out of his way to illustrate peaceful expressions in both their faces.

    Pont girl, I love that you took photos next to them!

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  28. David, and what about the great Balzac and MAria Callas? They're also buried in Paris, so maybe the list should be top 20!

    Bibi, so funny GOlden Paw!!

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  29. Eric, I hope this picture was taken the same day you visited the cemetary a while ago. Or else I'll just have to ask: how often do you take a walk by cemetaries?

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  30. I'm not sure if Bibi is interested in Getting a Golden Finger. After all, she has no such primate digits. It's the Golden Paw she is after and the well-deserved winner of them at that!

    Inspired by others here I have looked a little at the memorial. If you want to depict a kind of eternal rest then lying down is one way to do it. We do equate rest with lying down. Better this than ancient Egyptian royalty sitting upright for eternity (aren't their butts sore by now?). A bed is a comfortable place to lie down, but, after all it is outdoors, and in the public eye it is better to be well dressed.

    Eternal rest? Charles Pigeon is not quite ready. Always with those ideas.

    The heads of the (truly) married couple are slightly inclined toward each other in a subtle way. Like there is a kind of psychic connection between them. It's not a matter of "two heads are better than one" or her being his muse, but they are absolutely a pair, each of them kind of feeding each other and feeding off one another. Perhaps this is a good physical expression of the French "Vive la difference." They are each different, one very feminine, and the other very masculine, but each is so necessary to the other and they know it and feel it and are so eternally grateful for it.

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  31. Eric, you've captured another aspect of the French...even in death THEY READ and WRITE! Amazing!

    Tall Gary..."Interesting that it isn't just the patina on his shoes that has been rubbed away...." I thought the same thing. LOL! Old Victor certainly has not just been pushing up daisies, eh?

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  32. I can't resist:

    They say married men live longer. No they don't, they just feel that way.


    (Sorry, but it's been a really really bad day. Do forgive me.)

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  33. Coltrane_lives:

    "Old Victor certainly has not just been pushing up daisies, eh?"

    Ha ha ha; oh, my stomach hurts.

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  34. Monica...The ashes of Maria Callas were stolen from Pere Lachaise by her fans and when they were returned they were scattered[per her wishes]in the Aegean. The niche in Pere Lachaise where they were is actually empty.

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  35. Old Victor certainly has not just been pushing up daisies, eh? - C.L.

    Shhh! Don't tell Daisy!

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  36. Thanks tonton_flaneur for posting those links to Dalida and Nuryev. Especially the Dalida was jaw-dropping gorgeous.

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  37. Once again, I am so impressed ! You all seem to know so much about Paris, much more than me and I live 50 kms from THE CITY !
    I love this blog, not only for the amazing photos and the incredible range of topics but also for all I discover about Paris and your history.
    BTW I was just curious : how much time to do you spend in cemeteries, Eric ? Can't be a shortcut to go to work, you wouldn't drive in a cemetery with your scooter ?
    (Sorry for the mitakes it took me 10 minutes and as many detours to the dictionary to write those lines.)
    And it's raining again ! (Famous tune).

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  38. I have to say, I thought they both looked a little stiff in that bed, although not as stiff as poor old Victor Noir in Pere Lachaise. Kelly's right, David's list is at least one 'tourist attraction' short of a complete list of grave attractions. Noir's grave is more 'hands-on' if the visitors are anything to go by. But I wouldn't get too excited! If you still don't know who he is, Google him!

    Dermo

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  39. Hallelujah Marylène! (in reference to the song, of course ;))

    Soooo. Since you're all wondering. No, I don't spend my time in cemeteries, even though I love them. I think they are the perfect (and only) place to escape the turmoil of the city.

    And they also shelter fantastic works of art.

    But, yes, as a matter of fact, I pass by this cemetery every morning on my way to work.

    I stopped the other day as Monica pointed it out, but I had to go back yesterday, as the photos I originally took of this grave were not good (I still don't like this one actually because it lacks light, but I did not feel like going a 3rd time! Besides, people always look at you the weird way when you take photos in places like this and it makes me feel uncomfortable!).

    Voilà...

    Eric (who just woke up 20 minutes ago!!)

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  40. This gravesite is so interesting! It's incredible what people will create to "house" them for eternity...
    I especially enjoyed the links and comments from PDP-ers about other popular graves.

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  41. It is the most unique gravestone I have ever seen.

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  42. There are a great many unique graves in the Montparnasse Cemetery. Here is a link to my photo of the Pigeon grave made in September 2004. http://tinyurl.com/3glxyr

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  43. I took Dermo's advice and checked out Victor Noir at Wikipedia. If one scrolls down to "Monument" it can be seen that it is not always fingertips responsible for that particular well-polished, centrally-located area that is pushing up not-always daisies.

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  44. Rather than gently talking, i reckon this was when Charles had his Eureka moment working out his non-exploding gas lamp. I can imagine, as people sometimes do, he sprung up in bed, shook his poor slumbering and long-suffering wife with the words "I've got it! I'm going to make a non-exploding gas lamp!!! Or maybe oil...i'm not sure yet!!!! Wow (or the equivalent) - hey darling what do you think?!"
    Wife: "Oh do shut up darling and go back to sleep."

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  45. I think you've got it Lynn. A memorial of THAT moment.

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  46. I will digress here, so, please, "Horseman, pass on by."

    My legs were weakening from more than thirty minutes of searching for a grave in cimetière Montparnasse. Up and down the rows according to the map, but to no avail. A Frenchman came up to me. Of medium height and weight. Dark hair, perhaps even a mustache. His clothes were casual but not the casual of youth. Was he wearing a vest? I can recall dimly but can't describe him so that you can see him clearly. < Recherchez-vous la tombe de Guy de Maupassant? > he asked. I smiled and nodded. < Oui > I said, for indeed, that was the grave I was searching for. He gave me directions, which at that time, I could follow. I'm not so sure of my French today. But it wasn't at all close to the spot where the Frenchman walked up to me. How did he know who I was looking for?

    Soon after I found the grave site of Guy de Maupassant a city photographer came up to me and asked, in English, if he could photograph me. It was an assignment from the local mairie or arrondissement. He needed a person to photograph at Guy de Maupassant's grave. I'm sorry but I don't think the photos were any good. I couldn't visit his grave without thinking of his death—of tertiary syphilis via syphilitic insanity. I thought at the time his short story "The Horla" was a reflection of that time but it seems that it was a foreshadowing, if anything, written six years before his death and even before his symptoms appeared. Nonetheless, it was "The Horla" and his death I thought of most. The photographer must have collected a depressing sheaf of scowls. How different the photos might have been had we been in a library perusing a volume of his nonpareil stories.

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  47. Although this strikes me as somewhat bizarre, I think ultimately I find it beautiful.

    And Coltrane ... "Eric, you've captured another aspect of the French...even in death THEY READ and WRITE!" <---- This cracked me up! And I think you're right!!!

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  48. Honestly, this grave is 'to much' for me. I prefer sober graves (if it's possible to 'prefer' a kind of grave!). The angle shot is nice, I don't know how to explain it but I like the fact that the graves seems to have a shape of rhombus with this angle, framed in a rectangle by the photo. (Bloody English language lol).

    Lynn, I love your interpretation of the Eureka moment. ;)

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  49. Anonyme and Carrie, your puns were so great.

    David, thanks for the list, if I ever get to Paris I'll see as many as I can.

    Salem Oregon daily photo, I didn't realize you were out there. I lived there for 7 yrs, still live nearby, and husband works across the street from the Capitol (no, not the YMCA, not the Methodist Church, not Willamette University . . . that should narrow it down for you!)

    Eric, this is a remarkable shot. I clicked on it to see it better, and, as it is 3:30A here, I was reminded to go to bed!

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  50. Fascinating! Gives new meaning to the phrase "pillow talk." This reminds me a bit of the sarcophagus of Gen. Robert E. Lee. His wife insisted on a sculpture of him resting on his Army field cot. He looks like he's taking a nap.

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  51. Eric you're so cute and thoughtful, going into all this trouble - or should I say all these cemetaries - just to take good photos for us!!

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  52. I think he's screaming "It's bad enough lying here for eternity, all covered in pigeon do-dah, but now I've got a bloody cramp!"

    Dermo

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  53. Guille that was admirable to attempt that description in a foreign language - and you did it perfectly!

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  54. I adore the grave. What a quaint idea.

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  55. Tall Gary, Thanks for the link to Victor Noir at Wikipedia. That was really interesting. How do people come up with such stuff? That is so funny in a very weird way.

    Guille, "The angle shot is nice, I don't know how to explain it but I like the fact that the graves seems to have a shape of rhombus with this angle, framed in a rectangle by the photo. (Bloody English language lol). Lynn, I love your interpretation of the Eureka moment. ;)" You can never ever say again that you have trouble with English. You have advanced English.

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  56. Eric: "Besides, people always look at you the weird way when you take photos in places like this and it makes me feel uncomfortable!)."

    I remember that feeling at Pere La Chaise. I didn't want to be disrespectful, but it was so beautiful! Surely people are used to tourists taking photos in Parisian cemeteries by now. No? I guess not.

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  57. I was telling my Baron about the story behind the patina on Victor Noir's statue on his grave. And he said, "That's how I want to be buried. I was thinking about being cremated, but now I want... " :) And the rest he said is X rated.

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  58. Yes, Guille, your "bloody English" is bloody great!

    Eric & Petrea -- I've taken hundreds of photos at Pere Lachaise. Even though I know exactly what you mean, I do it anyway (though trying to be somewhat discreet). The place is just TOO photogenic.

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  59. Wow, quite weird, indeed!!
    Maybe Monsieur PIGEON did that by love but maybe not... Who did it serve (M. PIGEON's pride?)

    I love Lynn's description of the scene! That is plausible LOL!!

    I never went to Montparnasse cemetary! If I go there one day, sure I will have a look to this incredible grave and will have a thought to all your comments! :)

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  60. Tall Gary...your words are indeed priceless! LOL
    BTW...I think we need to thank Kelly for bringing to light one Monsieur Noir.

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  61. Thanks Coltrane. We owe it all to Kelly. Thanks, too, Kelly. Kelly also had the funny comment about Charles Pigeon perhaps holding a Moleskine. Yet, here is a couple as much as holding a foreskin.

    Lois wondered how such a "tradition," such as Victor pushing up a "Daisy" here, could have gotten started. After all, he was to be married the next day, the day after he was shot and killed. There surely must be huge gobs of latent fecundity infusing his pants, I mean spirit.

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  62. Lynn's having nailed the raison d'être of the Pigeon monument it brought to mind an unusual Japanese movie titled, in English, "After Life," or "Wandâfuru raifu" in Japanese. Amazon.com wrote: "After Life" transpires in a sort of way station where the dead must select one memory to be re-created on film and taken on with them forever, relinquishing everything else.

    It would seem that both the Pigeon monument and the movie are concerned with carrying THAT moment down through eternity.

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  63. They look very at ease with one another, as if they are quite satisfied with their love on earth and are now ready for the after life. I love it! Now I want to know more about unusual grave sites. What did we do before Google? Thanks Eric, for another thought provoking photo.

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  64. tall gary, you are sooo funny -- and way too into Victor Noir and his little good-luck charm (or not so little, actually).

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  65. Alexa, how do you do that?!!
    I understand for the last comment, you just have to wait, but how is it possible when Eric posts at midnight exactly? Maybe it didn't happen yet...
    Tu es trop forte. ;)

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  66. But Alexa, you are ignoring my interest in the literature of Guy de Maupassant, Charles Pigeon, and obscure Japanese films I wrote of above, but, yeah, there's something there, huh? Must be something like my own latency, or perhaps it's just shear envy such as Lois' Baron. Or the amused shock one can get even at a site such as this.

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  67. Well I guess that's romantic, in a different sort of way... is his wife buried there with him I wonder?

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  68. I think it's a beautiful grave! Looks like they had a lovely relationship.

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  69. I like it!

    The Etruscans were known for their gravestones of such scenes as this...maybe that's where he got the idea.

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  70. Creepy yet fascinating.... and also so beautiful

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  71. Is this what one means by resting in peace.

    This is the most beautiful thing I have seen. He must have been so much in love with her.

    Thanks Eric for being our eyes from so far. I may not be able to visit Paris but this is the closest I think I could possibly experience.

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