Post cards from the edge…I mean France.

For me, one of the best parts about taking a vacation is sending post cards.  I love perusing the post card racks at various souvenir shops or historical sites and then choosing ones that capture what I’ve seen and experienced.

Writing post cards is an opportunity to stop and take a breath on vacation (which I usually have a hard time doing otherwise, because I want to see and do EVERYTHING!).  Distilling what you’ve done and seen in a few lines for a card forces you to really think about the fun you’re having, the memories you’re creating, and what your recipients might be most interested in hearing about.  It’s a process that helps me reopen my eyes to the amazing things I’m getting to do on vacation and helps me appreciate them even more.

I stole random moments to write post cards during my trip to France. I captured those moments in photos for the “Save Snail Mail”-reading public.  I wrote postcards…

on the train from Strasbourg to Paris:

in a Parisian cafe after a day of sight-seeing:

in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery next to the final resting place of French singer extraordinaire, Edith Piaf:

and at an outdoor cafe table in Montmartre during my last day in Paris:

Despite my best efforts, I did not send post cards to everyone I wanted to.  I ran out of time and postage and, in some cases, didn’t have the right address on hand.  I apologize to those I didn’t send one too, and promise to send ones to you first on my next trip!

P.S.  Speaking of brief notes to loved ones, people left little notes of affection at the grave sites of some of the more famous “residents” of Pere-Lachaise cemetery. 

Here’s Oscar Wilde’s kiss-covered tombstone:

Visitors left post-card-sized notes to him like this:

Jim Morrison’s non-descript grave had flowers:

But the tree nearby bore notes from fans:

Here’s a little note someone left for Abelard and Heloise (the real star-crossed lovers of the Middle Ages who ended up as an abbess and a castrated priest after their torrid love affair and hasty marriage).

I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about people writing on grave stones and trees, but clearly the power of a handwritten note meant something to the hundreds of people who participated in this process.  And hopefully Oscar and Jim appreciate it.

Pere-Lachaise is the most magnificent cemetery I’ve ever been to.  This comes from someone who loves going to cemeteries! I leave you with a picture of my favorite tomb.  It was so mournful and expressive:

3 Replies to “Post cards from the edge…I mean France.”

  1. I had heard about notes being left for the famous residents before, but I didn’t understand they’re actually written on the tombstones and carved into trees. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that to someone’s grave. Does that make me stodgy??

    1. Not stodgy, I felt the same way (or maybe we’re both stodgy together!). But I wondered if both Oscar and Jim were the types to be OK with the whole thing. Oscar would undoubtedly have some witty retort to his fans.

      Oscar’s tomb had a plaque on it that asked people to respect the tomb and not leave marks on it, noting that it had been restored in the mid 90s. Guess the request for respect didn’t stick! I think I’m more sad about the tree, because it can’t ever be “restored.”

      But what’s interesting to me is the need people had to leave their mark there at all. That these famous people–dead for decades (or a century!) can still have such an effect on the living is quite remarkable. I think Oscar Wilde’s persecution as a gay man and Jim Morrison’s early death as a washed up rocker trying to find his true poet self make them icons with whom other flawed mortals want to connect. And a tangible way to connect is through handwritten messages.

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