|This website, like any cemetery can be defined by the relations it
establishes between the living and the dead. Going to Pere-Lachaise is
like traveling in a strange and fascinating world where art and nature
combine to create a harmony that soothes and invites contemplation
and meditation...and dreams ...
Science is powerless in the face of death.
Only art and dreams offer us consolation.
The magnitude of Père-Lachaise, the poetry that emanates from the
universe of mixd trees and stones, multiform tombs encased in
greenery, the infinite diversity of tombs mean give a decor that is
Poetry comes alive in the most mysterious language, suggestting the
As grandiose as Pere Lachaise may be, it
is also testimony to the egos of the rich
and famous, extending and competing
these egos even when their lives cease to
be. The late French songwriter Georges
Brassens succinctly summed it up,
“People had their hearts set to die higher
than their asses”. But if it were not for
these dead, we would be deprived of the
romantic, aesthetical and highly varied
beauty that makes up the Pere Lachaise
cemetery. Did I also mention The Door’s
frontman Jim Morrison was buried here?!
Pere Lachaise derived its name from
François d'Aix de La Chaise (1624-1709),
a French Jesuit with considerable
influence, and confessor of Louis XIV
after 1675, who lived in the Jesuit house
rebuilt in 1682 on the site of the chapel.
The property, situated on the hillside from
which the king during the Fronde,
watched skirmishing between the Condé
and Turenne, was bought by the city in
1804. Established by Napoleon in this
year, the cemetery was laid out by
Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, and later
Père Lachaise Cemetery was opened on
the 21st of May 1804. The first person
buried there was a five-year old girl
named Adélaïde Pailliard de Villeneuve, the
daughter of a door-bell of the Faubourg
St. Antoine. Napoleon Bonaparte as a
consul declared that “Every citizen has the
right to be buried regardless of race or
In the latter part of the 18th century,
cemeteries were still banned from Paris
due to the fear of disease from fetid
corpses, and so most bodies were taken
down below into the catacombs (a small
part of which is open to the public, a
subject for a future tour guide on this
website). It wasn’t until 1804 that
Napoléon Bonaparte established Pere
Lachaise, which was a fair distance away
from the hustle and bustle of the city and
was somewhat smaller back in the day.
At the time of its opening, the cemetery
was considered to be situated too far from
the city and attracted few funerals.
Moreover, the Christians refused to have
their graves in a place that had not been
blessed by the Church. Consequently, the
administrators devised a marketing
strategy and in 1804, with great fanfare,
organised the transfer of the remains of
La Fontaine and Molière. Then, in another
great spectacle in 1817, the purported*
remains of Pierre Abélard and Héloïse
were also transferred to the cemetery with
their monument's canopy made from
fragments of the abbey of Nogent-sur-
Seine (by tradition, lovers or lovelorn
singles leave letters at the crypt in tribute
to the couple or in hope of finding true
This strategy achieved its desired effect
when people began clamouring to be
buried among the famous citizens.
Records show that, within a few years,
Père Lachaise went from containing a few
dozen permanent residents to more than
33,000. Père Lachaise was expanded five
times: in 1824, 1829, 1832, 1842 and
1850. In 1804, the Père Lachaise had
contained only 13 graves. The following
year there were only 44 and 49 in 1806,
62 in 1807 and 833 in 1812. Today there
are over 1 million bodies buried there, and
many more in the columbarium, which
holds the remains of those who had
Père Lachaise is still an operating
cemetery and accepting new burials.
However, the rules to be buried in a Paris
cemetery are rather strict: people may be
buried in one of these cemeteries if they
die in the French capital city or if they
lived there. Being buried in Père Lachaise
is even more difficult nowadays as there
is a waiting list: very few plots are
available. The gravesites at Père
Lachaise range from a simple, unadorned
headstone to towering monuments and
even elaborate mini chapels dedicated to
the memory of a well-known person or
family. A lot of the tombs are about the
size and shape of a phone booth, with just
enough space for a mourner to step
inside, kneel to say a prayer, and leave
The cemetery manages to squeeze an
increasing number of bodies into a finite
and already crowded space. One way it
does this is by combining the remains of
multiple family members in the same
grave. In many parts of North America,
such a custom is unheard of, as each
body is presumed to have its own casket,
vault, and plot of land. But at Père
Lachaise, it is not uncommon to reopen a
grave after a body has decomposed and
inter another coffin. Some family
mausoleums or multi-family tombs
contain dozens of bodies, often in several
separate but contiguous graves. Shelves
are usually fitted out to accommodate
In relatively recent times, Père Lachaise
has adopted a standard practice of issuing
30-year leases on gravesites, so that if a
lease is not renewed by the family, the
remains can be removed, space made for
a new grave, and the overall deterioration
of the cemetery minimized. Abandoned
remains are boxed, tagged and moved to
Aux Morts ossuary, in Père Lachaise
Plots can be bought in perpetuity, for 50,
30 or 10 years, the latter being the least
expensive option. Even in the case of
mausoleums and chapels, coffins are most
of the time below ground.
Père Lachaise Cemetery (officially,
cimetière de l'Est, "East Cemetery") is the
largest cemetery in the city of Paris,
France, though there are larger cemeteries
in the city's suburbs. It is in the 20th
arrondissement, and is reputed to be the
world's most-visited cemetery, attracting
hundreds of thousands of visitors annually
to the graves of those who have enhanced
French life over the past 200 years. It is
also the site of three World War I
The cemetery sits aloft a long, high wall
which forms the perimeter along this
edge. Students constructed the wall to
turn the cemetery into a fortress during
the battles of 1814. Entry is free, and
there is a narrow arched walkway just
over the road, which takes you up some
steps and into the graveyard.
The cemetery is one that can really be
visited at any time of the year, but catch it
on a bright sunny spring or crisp autumn
day and the cemetery comes to life in a
myriad of light and shadow. You can walk
leisurely down the straight avenues,
deviate down the less frequented
serpentine paths, or take the adventurous
road less travelled, and venture in and out
between sepulchres and tombstones. You’
re guaranteed to see something unique
with each turn of the head, from copper
stained monuments, rain eroded angels,
eery supernatural creatures to gothic gated
|Personal Comments from the Jolley Boys
Bonaparte, and a cousin of the then ruling Emperor Napoleon III. Prince Bonaparte
castigated the staff of la Revanche as cowards and traitors. The letter made its way
from Bastia to Paris. Grousset took offense and demanded satisfaction. In the
meantime, la Marseillaise lent strong support to the cause of la Revanche.
On 9 January 1870, Prince Bonaparte wrote a letter to Rochefort, claiming to uphold
the good name of his family:
On the following day, Grousset sent Victor Noir and Ulrich de Fonvielle as his seconds
to fix the terms of a duel with Pierre Bonaparte. Contrary to custom, they presented
themselves to Prince Bonaparte instead of contacting his seconds. Each of them carried
a revolver in his pocket. Noir and de Fonvieille presented Prince Bonaparte with a letter
signed by Grousset. But the prince declined the challenge, asserting his willingness to
fight his fellow nobleman Rochefort, but not his "menials" (ses manœuvres). In
response, Noir asserted his solidarity with his friends. According to Fonvieille, Prince
Bonaparte then slapped his face and shot Noir dead. According to the Prince, it was
Noir who took umbrage at the epithet and struck him first, whereupon he drew his
revolver and fired at his aggressor. That was the version eventually accepted by the
A public outcry followed and on 12 January, led by political activist Auguste Blanqui,
|The women sure seem keep him polished up. What a lucky stiff...he
gets more action in death than most of us dream of in life.
Any way, this is the grave of Victor Noir (real name Yvon Salmon).
He is here in the Cimetiere de Pare-Lahaise in Paris, France. He was
killed by gunshot at the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte's great-nephew
Pierre Bonaparte in 1870.
For some reason a tradition has evolved where women visit this
effigy to change there luck in love, or improve their fertility by
kissing the face and rubbing the prominent bulge in his trousers left
there by the artist A-J Daldu (I guess you wouldn't really call it a
woody would you since he is made out of bronze). Visitors are
asked not touch the effigy but it appears the women remain
unrestrained. Where were those women when I was on the loose?
Others buried here include: Marcel Marceau, Jim Morrison, Gertrude
Stein, Alice B. Tokias, Oscar WIlde, Caroline Murat (sister of
Napoleon's sister and Queen of Naples), Frederic Francois Chopin,
and Maria Callas.
Colleen, hope you have a good sense of humor and are not offended
by my cheeky comments. There are just too many possibilities here.
If, by chance, you would choose to include any of it in your answer,
tell your puzzle masters that [my mom]Donna Jolley and I are not
I apologize for Steve if his answer was a little out of bounds this
week. He called me to ask if I thought you had a sense of humor and
I said yes. If he offended you with his answer, it’s all my fault
Daniel E. Jolley
|Tin Eye Alert!
You can find this photograph on TinEye,
but you will have more fun if you solve the puzzle on your own.
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
1. Yvan Salmon, aka Victor Noir, in the Pierre dela Chaise Cemetery in Paris
2. He was shot by Pierre Bonaparte, Napoleon's great-nephew
3. Rub his groin and kiss his mouth for luck finding a husband.
|Answer to Quiz #329
November 6, 2011
1. Whose tomb is this and where is it located?
2. How did he die?
3. What does the cemetery ask visitors not to do?
|Comments from Our Readers
This quiz is cracking me up! Great quiz - thought this one would be morbid but I had a
great chuckle over it! Nicole Blank
This is a fun one! Betty Chambers
This is very interesting, I have never heard of this before! It's amazing that public
sentiment had to kick in to make cemetery authorities change their decision to block the
public's access to this grave. Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
I forget why. (I went to Paris once about 11 years ago, that's the only reason I know
all this. . .) Pam Melder
Even if you didn't know about Pere Lechaise, you could google 'french cemetery' and it
would be the first hit. The cemetery itself has a nice virtual-tour website. I tried at first
to search for 'born 1848, died 1870' without much luck; he was famous, but not that
famous. :) Harold Atchison
He may or may not have had a great, albeit short life; however the guy is perhaps
enjoying death. Women are supposed to put flowers in his hat, kiss his lips and rub his
genital area...must be hard to rest in peace (please forgive the pun)! Dennis Brann
Trying to avoid using Tineye, I searched Google using the phrase 'tue le 12 Janvier
1870'; (killed the 12th of January 1870) which appears on the cover of the tomb. I
immediately found Victor Noir.
Noir was not the first person killed by the prince. Pierre had a bad temper and was
reported to have killed men in Italy, Greece amd Albania. He lived for a while in the
United States, Colombia, England and Belgium, but settled in France where he was
elected to the legislature and was an embarrassment to his cousin, Emperor Napoleon
III. Margaret Paxton
Pere Lachaise has to be one of the most surreal places I've ever been.
Got this one in one search, by googling 'French 1848-1870 bronze tomb marker'.
I can't believe how easy this was. My first search (tomb 'top hat'; clicked on Images)
got me to the image. The hardest part was finding confirmation of what I believed to
be the answer to the third question - it was pretty obvious from the photo, but I wanted
to be sure. Cindy Tarsi
What a GREAT story!! Elaine C. Hebert
LOL good one! Debbie Sterbinsky
Some interesting story and a beautiful bronze casting. Jim Kiser
N.B. Somehow I don't think it's the beautiful casting that most attracts people to this
tomb.... - Q. Gen.
The inscription shows a date of death as January 1870, in French and
a year of birth as 1848. I googled �famous French death 1870� and came up with
several possibilities. I didn�t find a picture to confirm it, but from the
description I read on one of the pages, I�m pretty sure it is Victor Noir, born
Yvan Salmon, 1848-1870.
I'm not looking for any more children, but... Carol Farrant
N.B. You're not looking for any more children, but..what? -Q. Gen..
Too easy. I googled 'famous grave January 1870' and it was the 5th link.
Don't you love cemeteries?! This one is the best - a total "must-see!" Some of the
graves are marked with true works of art that are simply breath-taking. Some are
wonderfully loopy and cheesy. Oscar Wilde's grave actually made me laugh out loud.
From a distance it looked like it had "measles." It's covered in lipstick kisses and funny
graffiti. I'm sure Oscar approves. I got to the cemetery early in the morning before
they opened but once the gates unlock it's a great time to see it. You can walk around
without seeing anyone. Crowds of camera-toting crowds really ruin a cemetery visit!
Thanks for the confirmation about poor old Victor Noir! What an incredible history and
bizarre modern ritual. I'm a fan of Edith Piaf, so it was an added bit of fun to discover
she is buried there too.
I had never heard of Victor Noir. My academic background is Germanic languages and
history, not French. I got lucky by zooming in on the image. Despite the low resolution,
I was able to discern a date on the effigy, presumably the date of the funeral, 12 Janvier
1870. By googling the date *in French*, I was immediately put on the right track. I had
it figured out within one URL click from Google and then found the interesting "virtual
tour" of the cemetery as well.
I have to laugh about the comments you might have received. It crossed my mind you
would get some doozies for this question. But imagine what the cemetery has to deal
with! What a fun and whacky world! Rob Stanhope
It's amazing what people will believe. Donna Jolley
N.B. For example, you wouldn't believe the comments those sons of yours sent in....-
I didn’t know about this particular grave but when I saw the picture I immediately
thought of Paris. My sisters and I went a few years ago and meandered around in a
cemetery near Montmartre. It was really weirdly beautiful. Betty Chambers
|Congratulations to Our Readers
Nicole Blank Betty Chambers
Alan Lemm Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Daniel Jolley Don Draper
John Chulick Pam Melder
Dennis Brann Harold Atchison
Margaret Paxton Kyle Clark
Shirley Hamblin Peter Norton
Robert Stanhope Janice M. Sellers
Margaret Waterman Joshua Kreitzer
Rachel Joy Cindy Tarsi
Elaine C. Hebert Debbie Sterbinsky
Gary Sterne Milene Rawlinson
Angel Esparza Sally Garrison
Jim Kiser Debbie Johnson
Charles F. Coats Rachel Harris
Carol Farrant Stephen Jolley
Diane Burkett Donna Jolley
Arthur Hartwell Mike Dalton
Marilyn Hamill Grace Hertz
|How Don and Sally Solved the Puzzle
|It is fairly easy to read the words �tue janvier� (French for killed in
January) on the tomb. At first I thought the year indicated 1670
instead of 1870 which resulted in some fruitless searches. A search
for 'French tomb flowers in top hat', led me to information about the
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. I discovered the tomb is for
a former French journalist, whose pen name was Victor Noir (born
Yvan Salman). If I had searched for 'French tomb killed in January
1870' the Wikipedia article about Victor Noir would have surfaced
immediately. Noir was shot by the great nephew of Emperor,
Napoleon Bonapart. Some articles refer to a duel between Noir and
Prince Pierre Bonapart.
Several years ago I went on a tour of old town, Havana Cuba. In the
middle of one sidewalk there was a statue of an eccentric street
wanderer people referred to as 'El Caballero de Paris'. His beard was
all worn and a different color because people rubbed his beard for
good luck. Not quite as 'lewd' (as described in a BBC article) as the
A minor knowledge of French helped with this one... Thank you for
not blocking out 'Janvier' on the headstone. This one is very easy to
find without TinEye. An image search on google of 'top hat grave
france' did the trick. Or a date search on 'Find a Grave' also works.
Victor Noir was a French journalist who is
famous for the manner of his death and its
political consequences. His tomb in Paris
later became a fertility symbol.
A life-sized bronze statue of Noir was
sculpted by Jules Dalou to mark his grave,
portrayed in a realistic style as though he
had just fallen on the street, dropping his
hat which is depicted beside him. The
After having outraged each of my relations, you insult me with the pen of one of
your menials. My turn had to come. Only I have an advantage over others of my
name, of being a private individual, while being a Bonaparte… I therefore ask
you whether your inkpot is guaranteed by your breast… I live, not in a palace,
but at 59, rue d'Auteuil. I promise to you that if you present yourself, you will
not be told that I left.
sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir's trousers. This has made it one of
the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that
placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing
its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life, or, in some versions, a
husband within the year. As a result of the legend, those particular components of the
oxidized bronze statue are rather well-worn.
In 2004 a fence was erected around the statue of Noir, to deter superstitious people
from touching the statue. However, due to a fake protest of the "female population of
Paris" led by French TV anchor Peri Cochin, it was torn down again.
Son of a Jewish cobbler who had converted to Catholicism, born Yvan Salmon at
Attigny, Vosges, he adopted "Victor Noir" as his pen name after his mother's maiden
name. He went to Paris and became an apprentice journalist for the newspaper La
Marseillaise, owned and operated by Henri Rochefort and edited by Paschal Grousset.
In December 1869, a dispute broke out between two Corsican newspapers, the radical
La Revanche, inspired from afar by
Grousset and the loyalist L'Avenir de la
Corse, edited by an agent of the Ministry
of Interior named Della Rocca. The
invective of la Revanche concentrated on
Napoleon I. On 30 December, l'Avenir
published a letter sent to its editor by
Prince Pierre Bonaparte, the
great-nephew of the Emperor Napoleon
more than 100,000 people joined Noir's
funeral procession to a cemetery in Neuilly.
Attendance in this procession was regarded as
a civic duty for republicans. When Sadi
Carnot endorsed electoral candidates, he often
identified them as such attendees. ("Il a été au
convoi de Victor Noir.")
At a time when the Emperor was already
unpopular, Pierre's acquittal on the murder
charge caused enormous public outrage that
erupted into a number of violent
demonstrations. However a plebiscite was
held over a new more liberal constitution and
was approved by a crushing majority. The
Republican cause appeared to be lost.
Separate events however led to the Franco-Prussian War which resulted in the
overthrow of the Emperor's regime on 4 September 1870. In 1891, following the
establishment of the Third Republic, the body of Victor Noir was moved to Père
Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Après avoir outragé chacun des miens, vous m'insultez par la plume d'un de vos
manœuvres. Mon tour devait arriver. Seulement j'ai un avantage sur ceux de
mon nom, c'est d'être un particulier, tout en étant Bonaparte... Je viens donc
vous demander si votre encrier est garanti par votre poitrine… J'habite, non
dans un palais, mais 59, rue d'Auteuil. Je vous promets que si vous vous
présentez, on ne vous dira pas que je suis sorti.
Click here to take a virtual tour.
|Every dream is new,
unique and unknown.
Each path, each walk
will transport you
from one grave to
another, according to
your desires, in this
unusual and unique
place, probably the
most romantic place in