July 29: Sacre Coeur, Pere Lachaise, and a Dinner Tour on the Seine

Every day in Paris should start out with a violin practice on the balcony:

We set out today with a brutally ambitious schedule. And we brutally accomplished everything. After hunting down the only dinner cruise on the Seine that would allow us to wear casual clothing, we had no idea where that was going to take us, but it was in that direction we were headed, via Montmarte and a revisit to Notre Dame.

First we took the Montmarte funicula (fun to say, claustrophobic to ride):

We got up to the top of the hill and visited Sacre Coeur. This is a beautiful, amazing basilica:

One thing I loved about Sacre Coeur was that they were militant about making people hush inside the church, and take off their hats. Though we had been in a bazillion cathedrals and chapels throughout France, this was the first time the children were moved to light a candle and pray at one of the altars.

We did a bit of shopping in Montmarte and then jumped on the Metro to Pere Lachaise cimitiere. This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip:

The children were not at all amused or interested by Pere Lachaise cemetery. They were pretty much dragging the entire time we were there. However, we inspired them with the promise that we'd revisit the sparrows of Notre Dame before our dinner cruise, and they pressed on.

Pere Lachaise is hilly and strange, and walking along its weird and winding paths I really finally *got* the whole idea of the Parisian cemetery. It really is like a little city of the dead, and they have their houses, and their neighbors, and where you "live" after you're dead is important, you're going to live there forever. I mean, it's not exactly how I feel about my mortal remains, but I do understand it better, having been to this cemetery. It was very beautiful, and you could really tell a difference in character between certain parts of it and other parts -- some more fancy, some more homey, some more gloomy, some more formal, etc. Like neighborhoods in a town.

Here are some pictures I took:

Chopin's grave:

Robertson, grandfather of special effects:

Yes, we found Jim Morrison's grave. It was sort of nondescript and uninteresting, compared to many others. For example, Colette's grave is covered in cat food. This one I found super weird:

This is a place where Dan and I could have probably strolled around for a day, but we had promised the children a date with the sparrows, so...

Then it was time for our dinner cruise. We really had no idea what to expect, but the experience was actually very nice. We each had our own little table and all of the chairs faced outward toward the glass sides of the boat:

Inside was nice:

But they liked outside and upstairs better:

We went home. I finished my novel. I finished it in the dining room of the Paris apartment, with my husband writing a work email in the next room, and my children sleeping in the room beyond that. Not surrounded by the ghosts of Proust and Joyce and Hemingway and Gertrude Stein and Colette. Which, in retrospect, was the whole thing. Doing it that hokey "following in the footsteps" way would have been antithetical to the novel itself. So, great. The novel is done. And I only cried a little bit.

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