If any name is attached to the Pere Lachaise cemetery, it is Cambaceres.
This Napoleon second consul who was the originator of the french "code civil", never hid his homosexuality. Today, near by his grave, under the wide shadows of the big trees and around the imposing 19th century tombs, gays can see friendly glances who give a hot turn to the visit of the cimetery. Along the hills cruising can mix with touring in this amazing garden.
Pere Lachaise Cimetery is much more than a cimetery. It is the biggest park in the town, and one of the most beautiful one.
When the architect, Alexandre Theodore Brongniart, fit up, for the profit of Paris, the former Jesuits'resting place, he kept the gardens lay-out with its hills and its tracks lined by chestnut-trees and lime-trees. He gave to the all place the ambiance of an english garden, favourable for collect one's thoughts. The romantic atmosphere is still the same today. The neglect graves and the huge sculptured memorials help the place to be a large sensual hide and seek playground.
But the most famous cimetery of Paris was not an early success and didn't attract celebrities. At the openning, in 1904, rich parisians think it is too far and too "working class". Bad start for the standing... The first to be burried here was a police employee. There were no more than 50 grave in 1905, about 1000 at the end of Napoleon's period.
A promotionnal event was set in 1817 : the ashes of Heloise and Abelard, the famous lovers couple were transfered here as the remains of Moliere and La Fontaine. The impact is huge and the cemetery reputation is done. The Pere Lachaise became the "place to be"... for ever.
Every touristic guide talk about the celebrities resting in the peace of Pere Lachaise (Balzac, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Frederic Chopin, Victor Hugo, Isora Duncan, Yves Montands and Simone Signoret...). Some point at the very special graves :
Spiritism adepts putting their hands on their master Allan Kardec's monument or the policeman watching to the Jim Morrison's grave, preventing it from tagging or drug smokers.
Lucky walker will surprise a woman rubbing her sex against Victor Noir's lying sculpture as a sexual charm for infertility... As the best part of the statue is polished up, they must be a lot to believe it !
A walk in the new, straight, and not so romantic paths will give opportunity to find strange epitaths or inspired sculptures. The Pere Lachaise can be lived in a lot of different ways. A map can be bought at the entrance to find the celebrities graves and begin a singular journey. There is no charge for the access of the cimetery, open daily from 7:30am to 18:00pm (M° Pere-Lachaise, Gambetta or Alexandre Dumas).
Take the oportunity o the walk in the cemetery to meet and cross some famous homosexuals destiny :
JEAN JACQUE REGIS, DUC DE CAMBACERES (1753-1824)
Great destiny for this homosexual who never hide his orientation.
He was often seen, in the evening, in teh Palais Royal Gardens with a lot of young men, and always richly dressed. Talleyrand, who called Napoleon "hic" (latin for "him"), used to call Cambaceres "haec" (latin for "her")
Fouche, the police minister, told him to be more discret. During the french revolution, he was deputy. Then Napoleon named him second consul, and then, in 1804, "archichancelier de lEmpire", the second head of France...
He wrote the "Code Napoleon" wich is still the french Civil Code, erasing the homosexual repression between consenting adults. The french homosexual still live in peace because of him.
MARCEL PROUST (1871-1922) (Division 85)
The first love of famous writer Proust seems to have been Ronaldo Hahn, a famous music composer. Nobody know if his agtated friendship Robert de Montesquiou was mote than that or not. Lucien Daudet (Alphonse Daudet's son) et Bertrand de Fenelon were Proust lovers too.
He always lived in the fear that his mother discored his sexuality. After the dead of his parents, he became less discret. He then met a young straight guy, Alfred Agostinelli, and hired him as a chauffeur and secretary, being jalous of his feminine relations When Agostiny died in a plane accident, Proust said : "He was the human being that I love the most after my mother".
After that, Proust only had relation with protitutes, and in 1917, helped a friend to start a male bordelo. Its the Marigny Hôtel, 11 rue de larcade.
Proust was of bad health and passed his all life to find a specific sort of men. He didn't write much about his private life and what he called his "vice".
Raymond Radiguet wrote Le Diable au Corps and Le Bal du comte d’Orgel.
Still a teenager, he meet Jean Cocteau. He became his lover but has relations with girls too.
The young writer has a crazy life (parties, alcohol, drugs…) and died from typhoid fever at the age of 20. Radiguet has been Cocteau’s biggest love for ever.
With Francis Poulenc (another homosexual burried in Pere Lachaise), Cocteau and Radiguet wrote an opera bouffe Le gendarme incompris.
THEODORE GERICAULT (1791-1824)
The creator of "Radeau De La Meduse " was passionated by man body. Very few women he painted. A incestuous relation with an aunt give him a son, but his works is centred on masculnity. He said he loved "men with big buns". One one his students, Jamar, was problably one of his lovers. Some other of his relations, seems to have been passionated, with the painter Dedreux-Dorcy and Eugène Delacroix for they were very close.
OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)
Famous in a very young age in Londonfor his poems and his way of life. In 1882, he came for the first time in Paris where he me Verlaine and all the Paris of Writing. Maried to a rich widow, he was not happy in couple. In 1886, he met a 17 years old student, Robert Ross with whom he had his first same sex love experience. In 1891, he felt in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde agreed with all the extravagances of his young 22 years old lover. They fight often. Under his pression, Oscar sued Alfred's father for libel as he had accused him of being a "sodomite".The trial was the fall of the poet who was in the higher celebrity in London. He refused to leave London for Paris as his friends asked, was sentenced to two years hard labour. Upon his release in 1897, he wrote "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". He joined Alfred Douglas who was only interrested by the few money Oscar had kept. And then he left him. Oscar Wilde then lived in the Paris' hotel des Beaux-Arts and died on November 30, 1900 by meningitis (his room is still in place).
ROSA BONHEUR (1822-1899)
This female painter was first famous, in her teenage years for her paintings of french country. She loved to paint animals, markets... She obtain the autorisation to be dressed in men's clothes (it was forbiden in 19th century) and she was often painting in countryard with paysans clothes.
She became very famous, even in USA.
She bought a castel, south of Paris, and put exotic animals in the parc.
Rosa Bonheur said she staied single for her art, but in fact, she had a loving relationship with Nathalie Micas who died in 1889.
She met then Anna Elisabeth Krumpke, an american woman from San Francisco. They lived together and Rosa called Anna "her wife".