This is part of Happy Places, a series about making the time to have experiences that bring you joy, but can be hard to justify with a busy schedule.
I love going to cemeteries to talk about life.
I recently wandered around the Cimetière du Montparnasse with a friend, talking about major life decisions we were thinking of making. Nothing puts conversations about the future into perspective quite so much as acres and acres of memento mori.
The Montparnasse Cemetery is an odd place. It feels slightly apocalyptic, with trees and stone tombs spanning out in all directions in the shadow of the ominous Tour Montparnasse.
The tombs can range from the heartbreaking to the disconcerting. There are recent graves heavily covered with flowers, expectant graves with the names of the living already carved on, forgotten graves with broken glass, sorrowful graves covered with images of mourning.
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’s grave is always decorated with metro tickets and lipstick kisses.
Being surrounded by people’s visions of how they wish to be remembered for eternity is a good place to think about what really matters for your own present. At the very least, a stroll in the cemetery is a good excuse to get out and smell the chrysanthemums.
Address: 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet, 75014 Paris ∣ Métro: Raspail (lines 4 and 6) ∣ Opening hours: Every day, from 8, 8:30 or 9 until 5:30 or 6, depending on the day and season