My Strange Experience at Père-Lachaise

Bonjour! My name is Jean-Pierre. I am a student of English Literature at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. I’d like to tell you about a strange experience I had last summer.

I will be writing in English as I find it a fascinating language and am learning to converse in it fluently, so do pardon me for the occasional grammatical error.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

I was taking a walk, as I usually do on a nice Saturday afternoon, at the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. It is one of the largest cemeteries in Paris, and the burial place of many famous personalities. I am particularly fascinated by the tombs of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde, and often visit them to pay quiet homage to their creative genius.

Grave of Casimir Pierre Périer, a prominent Frenchman

Grave of Casimir Pierre Périer, a prominent Frenchman

I made my way through winding paths, enjoying the serenity of the place, the chirping of birds, trees swaying gently, casting strange shadows on the tombstones and mausoleums. That is when I noticed dark clouds suddenly appear in the sky. It seemed rather odd to me because such weather was unusual at that time of year. Indeed it had been bright and sunny just a moment before and I was quite sure there was no rain forecast for the day. Of course, one cannot bet on the accuracy of the weather-people – having been through many a ruined summer picnic – but still.

I walked hastily towards the exit, truly wanting to avoid getting soaked in case it rained. But the clouds blocked out the sun, birds flew away, the wind picked up and soon it was howling – an eerie sound – leaves flew everywhere, trees crashed against each other… and darkness fell upon the graveyard.

I could no longer see where I was going.

Darkness falls at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Darkness falls at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

As I stumbled across holding on to whatever I could, my foot slipped in what must have been wet mud and I found myself falling. It seemed like an eternity before I landed but it must have merely been a second. When I opened my eyes I was thankful I was not hurt, having landed on soft earth. I checked my belongings and everything was intact including, thankfully, my cellphone. It is so expensive getting cracked screens repaired these days.

As I glanced up to find out where I was, I noticed a strange thing. The dark clouds were gone and the weather was clear. As the afternoon sun shone bright in the blue sky, birds were chirping and I could see the tops of the trees swaying gently. Casting strange shadows upon me… and the freshly dug grave that I had fallen in.

I heard voices and hope filled my heart. There were people nearby! Surely they would help me get out of this place. I yelled as loud as I could, scrambling up the sides of the grave, trying to make my way out. Alas, my fingers slipped as the earth was wet, and I fell down again. Subsequent attempts were of no avail, and with each failed try a tiredness grew inside me. My voice was hoarse and my bones ached. Why wouldn’t they hear my cries for help?

Mustering all the strength I could gather I made one last attempt, almost making it to the top, a clear six feet… before gravity pulled me down again. For a brief moment though, a split instant, I could see the people near the grave.

To my surprise, it was my classmates from the university, my professors and friends. Some were crying, others holding flowers consoling each other. What were they doing here? I barely had time to think about this when something started being lowered into the grave. I was standing right under it and tried to get out of the way… but there was nowhere to go. The sun was blocked out and soon it was dark again.

I do not know how long I have been here. Perhaps a year, maybe more. It is quite cramped and dingy. The worst bit is the awful cellphone reception… I have had no connectivity since I fell in. I can’t make calls or post on social media, and no one knows where I am. But one gets used to the surroundings and the solitude. I thought I’d share my strange experience with you, and I’ve been desperately trying to upload this blog post. In case you do see this, my name is Jean-Pierre and I am a student of English Literature at the Université Paris-Sorbonne.

Graves at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Graves at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Author’s note: Père-Lachaise Cemetery is one of those offbeat locations in Paris that you must visit. It is the resting place of many prominent personalities. Pictures taken with my Huawei Honor 7 mobile.

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Categories: Europe, Fiction

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. I’m visiting this cemetery, and hope to have the same strange adventure as you, like Alice in Wonderland 🙂

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