“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” Oscar Wilde – famous for his witty quotes and endless lists of plays and stories. I’m pretty sure anyone who has studied English at school has come across him in one way or another. Being a dedicated creative writing student on a trip to Paris, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to pay my respects with a trip to his grave in Père Lachaise. I’m sure many of my fellow students would feel the same!
Père Lachaise was a trip that I managed to fit into my last day visiting the great city of Paris. I realise writing this that I’m trying to sell the idea of walking around a graveyard in the most romantic city in the world to my readers. Hear me out! – It’s a meaningful and special trip I think everyone should attempt to do. The Père Lachaise is located near the Paris Metro station Philippe Auguste on line 2 – this is next to the main entrance and Gambetta station on line 3, this stop allows you to enter near the grave of Oscar Wilde then stroll down the hill while visiting the rest of the cemetery. I went the opposite way and walked upwards, which is the tiring way of doing things!
The Père Lachaise is home to many other well-known names, one being Edith Piaf the famous ‘La Vie en Rose’ singer. When I walked past her grave I saw a group of people quietly stood around in a circle. They were paying tribute to someone that they admire, the laying of a rose on her grave symbolised to me how beautiful of a place I was standing. To be able to come and pay your respects to someone that you idolise is a pretty special feeling.
I eventually made it to the grave of Oscar Wilde, standing there proud. The famous Sphinx is the first thing you notice, a real testament to the skill and artistry of its creator Jacob Epstein. Unfortunately the grave has been vandalised many times over the years (there are still markings of this now) a barrier has been erected to try and stop people from doing further damage. It’s upsetting to think that people would disrespect someone whose work still impacts us today. I stood there feeling disheartened… That is until I saw the lips of the Sphinx covered in red lipstick and flowers laying at the base of the tomb. The love and admiration that people have for Wilde overcomes the ones that don’t and that was beautiful to experience.
As the sun started to grow intense I nonchalantly made my way back down the hill. The streams of light broke through the trees and shined over the beautiful works of sculpture all around me. After trying to communicate with a group of Spanish tourists that wanted to see Wilde’s grave as well, I reflected on the journey I had just taken. I knew that I had discovered a very special part of Paris not everyone gets to see. Now every time I’m sat in class and we are studying Wilde I think back to that day and the beautiful moment I shared there with strangers – remembering a great writer.