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Wikipedia.com - Passy Cemetery
Marie Bashkirtseff
(1858 - 1884)
     Today I want to visit the Passy Cemetery.  It is very close to the charming little Balzac Museum so I decide to walk over.  It is situated on the right bank of the Seine River just in back of the Trocadero.  I have read this museum has a good view of the Eiffel Tower.
     This cemetery replaced an older one located on the Rue Lekain that was closed in 1802.  It seems Napoleon I wanted to consolidate all the small cemeteries inside the city of Paris and relocate them into larger ones outside the city limits.  The new cemeteries included Montmartre, Pere LaChaise, and Montparnasse.  Passy was the last one to be built and opened in 1830.  It covers a little more than 4 acres.
     I find my way to the Avenue Georges-Mandel and walk back and forth looking for the entrance.  I assume it will be somewhere along this long retaining wall which appears to surround the entire cemetery.  Finally I walk around the Place du Trocadero and down the Avenue Paul-Doumer.  I find the entrance at the end of that street instead.
     The entrance feels a little dark and foreboding to me.  Fortunately, there is a colorful flower cart outside that enlivens the grayness of the day and the austerity of the entrance.  The entrance was designed by Rene Berger and built in 1934.  It has a very definite Art Deco feeling. 
     Upon entering the cemetery I notice an office to my left where I get a map and proceed to the restroom next door before I venture forth.  There is no charge for visiting the cemetery.
     Passy Cemetery is reputed to be the most aristocratic of all of the Parisian cemeteries.  I wonder what draws them to this particular cemetery.  I know the surrounding neighborhood is a haven for the rich and famous.  Perhaps they consider a plot of land at Passy just another one of their homes away from home.
     Walking around the cemetery I notice grave art at Passy tends to be more modernistic and minimally decorated than at many other Parisian cemeteries.  However, there are also the traditional house-like structures, raised tombs, and grand monuments elaborately decorated with wrought iron gates, symbolic elements, and beautiful sculptures.
     One of the most spectacular tombs belongs to Marie Bashkirtseff.  She designed it to resemble her studio. Now that could definitely qualify as a sort of home away from home.  Do you think there is an easel and paints inside?  I can imagine Marie working on her latest painting contently waiting for the judgement day.   
     The Satorres family tomb is an equally spectacular monument.  This poignant tomb has a toga-dressed woman precariously perched on the side.  I wonder is she trying to get into the sarcophagus or out of it.  Her youthful appearance makes me feel she definitely wants to escape the ultimate fate we all share.  I want to yell up and encourage her to jump down promising to safely catch her so she can continue living her life. 
     All afternoon I hope the clouds will clear away and sun will come out so I can get a photo of the Eiffel Tower from the cemetery.  Unfortunately, it is gray and overcast all day long.  As I leave the cemetery I get a brief glimpse of it across the river but the sun is going down and there is not enough light to get a good shot.  I guess that means another visit to this cemetery will be added to my long list of 'to do again'.
     On the website pariscemeteries.com I find a brief history, directions, opening times, facilities, and downloadable map for the cemetery.  There is also an evocative video of cemetery sculptures accompanied by jazz music.  This website indicates there are inexpensive guided tours in French offered by the cemetery. However, if you want a tour in English you will need to book a more expensive one with a commercial operator. 
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Paris for Free - Passy Cemetery
Cimetiere de Passy
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