Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Pathways lined with petite houses for the dead

Founded in the 17th century, the Chartreuse Cemetery is the oldest above-ground cemetery in Bordeaux. Little stone chapels appear to have been the preferred permanent dwellings for the affluent of the city.

The monumental sculpture common to many cemeteries in Europe is a bit thin in quantity, even when marking the former gravesite of an artist as famous as Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), who died while living in exile in Bordeaux. Among the exceptions is Colonel Deschamps’ two-sided marker seemingly serving as a pictorial resume of his entire life.

Most stones, though, fail to yield many hints about the lives of their underlying occupants. Some gravesites seem filled to capacity; the convenience of cremation allows much closer quarters. Opting for colorful metal or ceramic permanent floral arrangements is a graveyard trend, which appears to have created a large number of vacancies in the flower stalls lining the outside walls.

And then, there is our favorite. Not major, but we loved the miniaturized way “our papa” was memorialized as both a hunter and an avid boules player.

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