Tombs, sepulchers and shrines

We commemmorate our dear departed today so let’s take a trip to the tombs and shrines of Paris.

Montmarte Cemetery

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Guardian angel till after life

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Passionate about rocks…

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Tomb of a Russian countess

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A Jewish tomb in mosaic

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Edgar Degas, French impressionist painter

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Son of Alexander Dumas, the author of “Count of Monte Cristo”. 
The son was also a renowned author like his father

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Jean Baptiste Greuze, French painter.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

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Even death will not make them part. Tomb of husband and wife.

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Pharaohs are not the only ones who can be buried in pyramids

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Catacombs of Paris

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Here are some very interesting facts about the catacombs of Paris:

– The portion of the catacombs open to the public is only a small part of an extensive network of underground tunnels, which spans more than 300km (about 186 miles) in length.

– Secret entrances do exist throughout Paris and it is possible to enter the catacombs via the sewers, metro, and certain manholes.

– Some unofficial visitors also hold keys to certain official entrances. On rare occasions people do make use of these access points and illegally enter the catacombs — for example, to meet clandestinely, to hold unusual parties, or simply as urban explorers. (Specifically, those who have an affinity for exploring the catacombs are known as cataphiles.)

– In September 2004, an underground movie theater run by the Mexican Perforation — a French artistic movement that seeks to convey their ideas using underground places — was discovered by the French police.
skulls.

Posing next to tombs
While sightseeing at the Pére Lachaise cemetery two years ago, I saw with my own two eyes two ladies in their early twenties photographing each other, posing like models next to, on top of or sitting on a tomb or sepulcher. If not for the spooky background, you would think their purpose in doing so was to produce stock photos for a magazine selling tombs or sepulchers.

Either they both have a necrophiliac tendency or they are really into the business of advertising cemeteries to distribute to Homes for the Aged or Care Homes.

Well, before I criticize others, I should start asking myself why the fascination in visiting two cemeteries and catacombs in Paris. But maybe I am just a natural lover of the arts in all its forms (like tomb architecture or bone arrangement).

The Shrine of Princess Diana

The Flame of Liberty is a monument offered by the United States to France in 1989 in gratitude for the restauration of the Statue of Liberty in New York. This memorial is a reproduction of the torch held by the statue which was created by Bartholdi, French architect and sculptor.

Today, it serves as a temporary shrine for Princess Diana who died of car crash on the tunnel below it (Pont de l’Alma).

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Driving through the Haute-Savoie

Did you know that the Haute Savoie or “Upper Savoy” did not use to be a part of France? It was in 1858 when the House of Savoy (Kingdom of Italy) relinquished it to France in exchange for Emperor Napoleon III’s aid to Italy in its war against Austria.

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Lucky for France because this region is world famous for its ski resorts (Chamonix is one), its mineral waters (Evian) and its tallest mountains (Mont Blanc at 4,807 meters).  It is bordered by Switzerland to the north and Italy to the east. 

I adore the Haute Savoie because it is like little Switzerland with its lakes, snow-capped mountains and picturesque towns.  We have been to Annecy 5 years ago and it left me bewildered by its medieval beauty.  Truly one of the most stunning French towns I’ve ever seen.  I also became an instant and now a devoted fan of its Tomme de Savoie cheese, perfect as pizza topping despite the strong smell. 

So when we were in Geneva early October, we were determined to take a sidetrip to the Haute Savoie, particularly Evian, as it is only an hour drive from the former.

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The crescent shaped Lake Lehman (“Lake Geneva” in English) is bordered by France and Switzerland. 

From Geneva, we drove through Douvaine, Messery, Thonon les Bains and Evian les Bains.

DOUVAINE  

The  colours of autumn are everywhere to be seen in Douvaine. 

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A UFO look-alike building, in technicolour! 

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The public carpark

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Lovely colours!

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The Town Hall

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A cycling competition was on.

MESSERY

After driving through corn and dried sunflower fields we took the turn to Messery to look for something to eat. It was getting cold, must be the reason why there is not a single soul around.

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The Town Hall.  We parked there to eat our pizza takeaway in the car.

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The pizza shop is on the right (not seen).  We thought it was closed because all lights were out, but the door was ajar.  As soon as we got in, the automatic doorbell sounded and the lady owner started turning on the lights.  I bet electricity is expensive here.

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We thought we could stay in a campsite that night but of course, it was Sunday and

Nobody was in.  Looking at the notices, it actually said the camping season closed end of September.  Hurray!  We missed it by 3 days!  (Date of visit:  3 October 2009)

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Even if the campsite was closed, the gate was open so we had the chance of exploring the caravans inside.   Cool!  they have incorporated the caravans into the chalets or vice-versa.

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A bed and breakfast place

THONON LES BAINS

We arrived in Thonon in the dark. Had a quick walk of the town square where the only people there is a couple of young kids petting each other next to the fountai.

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Saw this poster in the town square.  This was Thonon in the Belle Epoque days. I didn’t see a similarity of this poster to what the town looks like now though. It’s just now a town of pizza take aways, perfumerie shops, modern boutiques and lots of parking land.

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This is the  funicular down the port, but it was closed.  It will open again next spring to summer. 

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The tourists are gone.  It’s just now falling leaves and empty cafes that animate the Old Quarter in the Port.

 At 8 in the morning, while the town is still sleeping, the amateur sailors and children on sailing course are busy preparing their boats for a day out on the lake.

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Typical of the Haute Savoie is the chalet houses similar to Switzerland.  Cold or alpine regions tend to use wooden shelters as it is warmer to the eye.  Wood is an excellent insulation, too.

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Mechanized transporting of household goods.  Convenient for multi-level houses

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The last trace of the Belle Epoque years is gone.  As more and more people are choosing to spend their holidays in the cheap, the luxurious hotels of old are more expensive to maintain than run.  Seen here are bent metallic bars that used to support a terrace. 

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One of the many lavoirs (ancient washing areas) of Thonon.  This one is a bit modernized.

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Just like in other parts of France, some streets are named after war heroes

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Leaving Thonon and driving towards Evian, we noticed this big cross on the main road.  Shrines and cross sculptures dot the country, a trace of a religious past.

EVIAN LES BAINS

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Source Cachat or the ancient fountain of Saint Catherine which was legendary for its healing mineral waters

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The historic spa centre,  Cachat

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The town of Evian sits at the southern part of Lake Geneva

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Sunday morning jogging

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Headquarters of the most famous bottled water in the planet

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quite a mural!

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Palais Lumiere, a thermal establishment from 1902 to 1984, now converted into “Espace Culturel et Congres”