Friday 25 December 2009

Cemetery hospitality in Lyon

Today I was kindly criticised by a friend for not updating this blog. Actually, I thought that nobody read it at all, but at least there's one exception. So here we go, a little story about French hospitality for Christmas.
I always thought that the French prohibition to take photographs on cemeteries was invented to have a means of sending people away who disturb mourners or others who are visiting gravesites of relatives. Even at Père Lachaise it's officially forbidden to take any pictures, but of course Paris is positioning this cemetery as a tourist attraction.
Well, I was wrong. Last November in Lyon we entered the Cimetière de la Croix-Rousse and as soon as we wanted to make a photograph from the tomb of Louis-Hilaire Carrand, a person of the cemetery office came down to us and asked if we had a permission to take photographs. We hadn't and asked how we could obtain this permission. One needed a written permission from the city of Lyon (not to be obtained at the cemetery) as well as from the family of the tomb one wanted to take a photograph of. This was also the case for old tombs, like that of Carrand, who died in 1899. So in fact it's close to impossible to take pictures of a number of historical tombs in Lyon, unless one does it secretly.
We showed our detailed printed lists of grave locations for this and other cemeteries to show that we were doing serious research, but this didn't help us. Rules were rules and there were clearly no exceptions to be made.
We understand that families visiting their dear ones shouldn't be disturbed, but we don't entirely understand the city of Lyon. From a cultural and historical perspective we feel there's some case to be made for being allowed to show tombs on this website. On the other hand it's their right to refuse us to add the Cimetière de la Croix-Rousse to our ever growing list. Fortunately nobody objected when we took many pictures at the Loyasse Cimetière in the same city two years earlier and also at the Guillotière Nouveau cemetery we experienced no problems. We still like Lyon (and especially its bar the Pecherie :-)) a lot, but this was a little disappointment.

Friday 10 April 2009

Prosper Mérimée makes 1000

Today I added the 1000th person to the site: Prosper Mérimée. I visited his grave in Cannes last December. I was told that even during the winter the weather was usually quite nice at the Côte d'Azur, but that day it was raining so heavily that we had to hide under trees and stone stairs several times before we could continue our search for his grave. It was easily found and pictures could be taken before the rain started pouring again.