Paris Parks: The Cat’s Meow Edition

Memory, All alone in the moonlight at the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques Photos by T. Brack

Memory, All alone in the moonlight at the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques Photos by T. Brack

for sale in Montmartre

Steinlen’s Tournée du Chat Noir in Montmartre

By Theadora Brack

“We’ll always have Paris,” Rick tells Elsa at the end of the movie Casablanca, without mentioning any of their favorite haunts in the City of Light. But I say, “Play it again, Sam,” and this time with addresses. After all, everyone’s got their own Paris.

For instance, King Henri IV cavorted on the tip of the Île de la Cité, while centuries later the Seine bridges crossing the island captivated painter Edward Hopper. Hemingway liked to sit on a bench in the Jardin du Luxembourg and wait for his first true sentences (along with dinner: roast pigeon), while the food stalls at the great Les Halles market sparked Julia Child’s joy of cooking.

Though I’m hardly a king or a master of French cooking (yet), I, too, have a few outdoor havens I run to for inspiration.

1. The Fontaine Steinlen
Place Constantin-Pecquier, 18th arrondissement

I’ve a confession up my faux fur sleeve. After my cat left this world for another Fancy Feast, this is where I spent many hours. Montmartre residents Eric Satie and Théophile Steinlen understood the wonderous feline, and I found and still find great comfort in that. The fountain was created by Paul Vannier in 1936 as a nod to Steinlen, who lived nearby at 74 rue Caulaincourt. Where is the love? Trust me, it’s here.

Lost Kitty ( Porte de Vanves Flea Market)

Lost Kitty ( Porte de Vanves Flea Market)

 

Think Steinlen is the cat’s pajamas?

I do, too. After we sunbath at the cool fountain and sip some cream at a nearby café, we’ll hoof it on over to the nearby Musée de Montmartre at 12-14 Rue Cortot, where they often display Steinlen’s  works, including his cat iconography in all it’s nine-lives glory. Perfection, eh? Don’t miss its gift shop. Posters from former shows hold court near the entrance.

Hello, Kitty

Along the way, we’ll pass the Cimetière Saint-Vincent (a.k.a. “The Cat Cottage”). Here is where Steinlen rescued and adopted many stray feline muses, much to his poor wife’s chagrin. Though it’s quite fitting, see, because here is also where Steinlen is buried. Wild kitties still keep watch over his grave. Sir Paul got it right: “And, in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” Chow. Wow. Wow.

My tale to tell: From floor to ceiling, my childhood bedroom was decked out in Steinlen posters, so whenever I visit the Musée de Montmartre, it always feels like home. I have my mom, dad and Steinlen to thank for my profound love of Paris, art and cats. Tapping together my ruby-encrusted claws again and again, there is no place like home. It’s true.

Tip: Steinlen’s original Chat Noir Bar sign is on display at the Musée Carnavalet at 23 Rue de Sévigné in the Marais. Trekking to Paris? Don’t miss it.

Everyone visits Jim Morrison. but who spends time with Fifi?

Everyone visits Jim Morrison. but who spends time with Fifi?

2. Cimetière des Chiens
4 Pont de Clichy, Asnières-sur-Seine

Celebrating the recent Pet Memorial Day, now let’s hotfoot it on over a few hot tin roofs (teasing) to another favorite resting spot in the city. Located northwest on the Seine, Paris’s Le Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques (Cemetery of Dogs and Other Domestic Animals) is the oldest pet cemetery in the world. It’s Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise of pet cemeteries.

Founded in 1899 by lawyer Georges Harmois and journalist Marguerite Durand, here you’ll find the graves of dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, mice, hamsters, horses, monkeys, turtles, fish, sheep, foxes, and even one shark. Canine movie star (and World War I hero) Rin Tin Tin and Marguerite Durand’s own pet lion, named Tiger, are also buried here.

Tip: There is a small entrance fee, but paws down, it’s worth every penny. Keep your eyes peeled for the massive but shapely Art Nouveau entrance by Eugene Petit. A well-worn dirt path will lead you through a maze of moss-covered tombstones, urns, and sculptures. You’ll also spot toys, food dishes, photographs, and love letters.

Sit with me on a bench and grab my hand. If it’s a quiet day, you’ll be able to hear the gurgling of the river passing by, while witnessing such heartfelt gestures. Its resulting beauty both soothes and re-energizes my spirits every time. I always weep.

Where is the love? In your lap.

How much is that doggie at the entrance?  Art Nouveau Masterpiece by Eugene Petit

BRACK Pets 10

Kitty on patrol at Le Cimetière des Chiens

Founded in 1899 by lawyer Georges Harmois and journalist Marguerite Durand

BRACK Pets 12

Notre fidèle ami

From 1800 to 1812, “Barry” rescued 40 people along the Saint Bernard Pass (a dangerous route through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland)

Marguerite Durand’s own pet lion, named Tiger is buried here

Here’s my favorite sculpture at world’s first pet cemetery (RIP, heart breaker Scapin)

BRACK Pets 11

The annual International Pet Memorial Day is held on the second Sunday in September

BRACK Pets 18

Le Cimetière des Chiens in its morning glory

BRACK Pets 25

Carpe Diem! La Vie en Rose!

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88 thoughts on “Paris Parks: The Cat’s Meow Edition

  1. I’d love to explore that cemetery and then head for some of the eating places you so often recommend. However, I’ll have to settle for a half a week in San Francisco next week, so I won’t suffer. :-) Glad the links worked for me this week and hope your week’s off to a great start. It’s the cat’s pajamas here.

    janet

    • Both parks are perfect for strolling, reading, and people-watching. Especially this time of the year! Again, thanks for the frozen macaron tip! I love it. Say, there is a wonderful pâtisserie near the Steinlen Fountain. Arnaud Larher is located at 57 rue Damrémont. You’d love it there! T. (Enjoy your trip to San Francisco! I’m looking forward to your reports from the field!)

    • Thanks, Dana! The “Barry” memorial also moved me. I wasn’t alone. On the day of my visit, there were quite a few pilgrims there. Some even with flowers! T. (Are you a cat person or a dog person? Or both?)

      • I like them both, although I don’t have one right now. Yeah…flowers work. I just buried my chickens’ feathers (what was left from them) and I planted some flowers too for the spring…

      • Wait. A chicken?! T. (Have you seen Peter Friedman’s “I Talk to Animals: : A Portrait of Samantha Khury” film? I highly recommend it! It’s lovely.)

      • no for movie and not really :) A hen and a rooster, they were my niece “pets” not really pets, she used to take them to some farm expo…now they are gone in “the wild east” 20-30 trees but lots of creatures.

    • I know! I know! I found this sweet postcard at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market. I tumbled flat. They’re such a sweet-looking pair! T. (Thanks for asking about the last post. There were a few glitches. Goodness. Gracious. I plan to post “Sailor Chic” piece next week. So stay tuned! )

  2. I’ll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum…………Sing it, Sam……………….
    You must remember this……….. A kiss is still a kiss………. A sigh is just a sigh ……….. The fundamental things apply ……….. As time goes by………. And when two lovers woo, …….. They still say, “I love you” ……… On that you can rely ……….No matter what the future brings-……….

    Theadora………..Virginia……….Tinny……humming and singing as they walk with arms linked through the memorials of the Cimetière des Chiens coming to rest on a bench deep in the shadows as a paper blows up to their feet, as they are opening the bubbly………the words upon it read:

    He wagged his tail to the very last –
    And he smiles in his last, long sleep –
    The troubles of life, for him, are past,
    In his grave, a few feet deep.
    His soul — for I feel that he had a soul
    and he thought real thoughts, we know, –
    Has found the ultimate end, life’s goal,
    In the heaven where good dogs go.

    ………..misty eyed, they toast to the pets gone by………

    • Play it again, Tinny!! You are such a heart-breaker. Of all the blogs, in all the towns, in all the world, the Tin Man walks into mine. How lucky we are. I loved the words. I loved your words. Once again, I am weeping. Once again, misty eyed, we are toasting to our four-legged friends.

      It’s still the same old story 

      A fight for love and glory 

      A case of do or die. 

      The world will always welcome lovers 

      As time goes by.
      Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers 

      As time goes by

      Stop. Where is Toto?! In Virginia’s basket with the extra bottle of bubbly?!

      T.

    • YES. Add Le cimetiere des chiens to your list! There’s also a racehorse buried there. Troy Tower! Let’s not forget to mention the adorable Kiki the Monkey. While there, I took so many photographs. Too many to count, I say. So stay tuned for a part II! T. (Enjoy the week!)

    • Well, thank you! It’s an incredible place. I also spotted canine war and police heroes. By 1958, the estimated “lost loved friends” count at the cemetery was 40,000!T. (Do you have a special animal pal?)

    • Here’s another tidbit: Back in the day, Marguerite Durand (journalist and former performer with the Comédie-Française) used to parade around Paris with her pet lion! Imagine. What a perfect performance piece! T.

    • Ha! You’d love Rin Tin Tin’s tale. According to the legend, an American soldier rescued the canine war hero on a battlefield in the Lorraine region of in France during WWI. After the war, the pair moved to Hollywood. Flash Forward: Rin Tin Tin became a movie star. In 1932, Rin Tin Tin dies in the arms of Jean Harlow, and Lee Duncan sends him back to his homeland in France. Sweet story! T.

    • Thank you, Paul! Have you been to Cimetière des Chiens? If so, I’d love to see your photographs. It’s definitely worth the trek! Maps are available at the gate. Enjoy the week! T. (I think it would make a perfect “Where is it Wednesday” Pop Quiz!)

  3. “The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now here’s looking at you, kid.”
    Tiny poured the last of the bubbly into the three glasses. The women exchanged glances. Theadora reached down ostentatiously to brush the silver gray dust from Virginia’s ruby slippers, but really to caress the sleek cat sleeping at her feet.
    “Au Revior le chat.”

    • What a wonderful time we had! “Theadora reached down ostentatiously to brush the silver gray dust from Virginia’s ruby slippers, but really to caress the sleek cat sleeping at her feet.” Silver dust. Beautiful line. Now I’m singing “Memory” all over again! Where’s Betty Buckley when you need her?

      T.

      I also adore the film “Casablanca.” I’ve always loved Captain Louis Renault! He had such great lines:
      “I am shocked — shocked— to find that gambling is going on in here!”
      Along with:
      “Oh, please, monsieur. It is a little game we play. They put it on the bill, I tear up the bill. It is very convenient.”

      • Lar and I have watched Casablanca probably fifty times. We could watch it fifty more times.
        Remember Theadora. “We’ll always have Paris”. V.
        Here’s looking at you kid!

      • I think it’s time to watch it again! Of course, I also loved the Paris montage. Great shot of the Arc de Triomphe! T. (Do you and Lar have any other favorite films? With a French twist? Any recommendations? T.

      • Audrey Hepburn did quite a few movies set in Paris. Our two favs are Love In The Afternoon with Gary Cooper, and Sabrina with Humphrey Bogart. But our all time favorite French movies are by Marcel Pagnol. It is our beautiful custom to watch two of them, My Mother’s Castle and My Father’s Glory, the week before Christmas. Lar has most of the lines memories and when it is appropriate they return in conversation. XX V.

      • Thanks, Lar and Virginia! I just watched the “My Father’s Glory” trailer. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. It looks like an epic weepie. Adding both “My Mother’s Castle” and “My Father’s Glory” to my flick wish list! T.

  4. Wonderful photographs, T! You’ve teased the emotion out of the statues. The cemetery looks like a genuinely moving place. The Steinlens at Musée de Montmartre are on my list for the next time I come over.

    • Thanks, Richard! YES. I fell head over heels in love with the statues. I tumbled flat. The green moss almost looks like fur, eh? You’d love the Musée de Montmartre. There’s a little garden in the back with a view of a cat-friendly vineyard. All year long, they watch over the grapevines. T. (Say, have you taken any animal street portraits?)

  5. The pictures of the pet cemetery break my heart, but your post also made me smile because I’ve just replied, on an English comment to my “Barbie™” post, by mentioning, in French, “La Vie en Rose” !!! So, more than ever CARPE DIEM !

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if you became a king or a master of French cooking. :) That’s a funny name for a cemetery – with the cats covered under “other domestic animals” but I guess they made up for it with those great cat statues. It’s funny that a shark is buried there too!

    • Ha! I just mastered Julia Child’s Purée de Pommes de Terre à L’ail. One page or potato at a time! YES. A shark, a monkey and a racehorse! Great title for a book, eh? And speaking on good reads, do keep us posted on your book project. I’ve been enjoying following your process. It will hit the stands, I’m sure of it, Sheila! (Enjoy the week!)

    • YES. The perfect description. I’m working on a post about pet care in France. I’ve been finding late 18th century-early 19th century portraits at the flea market. The large framed photographs are works of art. So stay tuned! T. (Enjoy the week!)

  7. Dearest Theodora
    The late French Emperor.. ahem.. I mean President Mitterrand… famously remarked that the only reason that Paris should envy London was for its parks.
    Perhaps Francois’ cats might have thought differently.
    A wonderful feline edition dear friend.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • My dear dashing Perfumed Dandy, Bonjour! London. How I miss my runs around Hyde Park. So much to see along the way! Once, I was so distracted that I took a tumble by the Royal Albert Hall. Thanks for stirring up such sweet, sweet memories! T. (And speaking of French presidents, I adore the Caron fragrance boutique by the Palais de l’ Elysées on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Do you have a favorite Caron location in Paris? They all glitter like jewelry boxes. Any recommendations?)

  8. As an animal lover, I absolutely loved this post! I had no clue that such elaborate and beautiful animal cemeteries existed. Your posts make me fall in love with Paris more and more (if that’s possible)

    • I also love “Le Chat Noir” sign and bar. Perhaps I’ll create a post about the joint. It would have been fun to clank a few with Jane Avril, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Aristide Bruant, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—just to name a few. Where is time travel when you need it? T.(Good week to you!)

  9. I have a Paris trip coming up, so thanks for the tips! I lived just outside Paris as a child (near Versailles), but, being 10 at the time, my highlights were the carousel in front of the Eiffel Tower, Burger King on the Champs Elyssees, and the Christmas windows at Primtemps. I think I’d still love the third, but am hopeful my tastes have matured a little beyond the first two!

    • Thanks for giggle, Claire! I love your Burger King confession. Very sweet! An upcoming trip to Paris? Fabulous news. Feel free to ask questions.

      The grand magasins typically launch their “Vitrines de Noël” (holiday windows) during the first two weeks in November. It’s always fun to attend the big launches. In 2011 Karl Lagerfeld flipped the switch! Also, “Les soldes d’hiver″ usually start during the first or second week in January, and last through mid-February. Don’t leave the Eiffel Tower off your list. She is still a beauty!
      Cheers!
      T.
      (Do you plan to visit Versailles? The Osmothèque fragrance institute is also worth a visit.)

  10. This is a gem of a post! Love that you were seeking these glorious places out as a way to lick your wounds after loss – they must have salved your aching heart. What special places to go and commune.

    • Merci! (Your photographs would be amazing, I’m sure!) Yes, It’s the perfect place for a stroll-winter, spring, summer and fall! I wonder if Chicago has an animal cemetery. The one in Baltimore (my former hometown) is located near the BWI airport. Wonderful, wonderful places. Enjoy the weekend! B.

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