Hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of Paris is Montmartre Cemetery. Step through the gates and you’ll immediately find yourself in a different world. Gone are the crowds and honking cars. Here is the quiet final resting place of many famous Parisians, many of whom you’ll be familiar with. Edgar Degas the painter, and Adolphe Sax who invented the saxophone. Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Three Musketeers and Jean Bauchet who was once the manager of the world famous cabaret, Moulin Rouge. And many more whom I’d never heard of, but who are no less important to the history of such an amazing city.
Being born and bred in Vancouver, a city incorporated only a relatively short 131 years ago, I grew up passing cemeteries with manicured green lawns dotted with shiny block headstones. As a result, I’ve always been intrigued by cemeteries with real history. So when Stephanie suggested we visit Montmartre Cemetery (and mentioned that it’s known for stray cats!), I was keen.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling of calmness I experienced wandering the labyrinth of avenues making up the grounds. There was a stillness that I felt deep inside. I found myself reflecting not only on the lives that once were, but also my own. The family crypts hit hard, and made me realise how important family truly is.
And here’s my favourite find of the entire cemetery. As soon as I saw the name and crown, I knew there was a royal connection. But what was it?
Upon returning home, I did some research. Constance de Saxe-Coburg & Gotha was married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha. As in, the cousin to both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert . My inner Royal fan started shrieking! But what I was most surprised to learn is that Constance and Prince Leopold had a child out of wedlock. ROYAL SCANDAL! They went on to marry, at which point Austrian-born Constance gave up her career as an actor, singer and composer. After Prince Leopold passed away, Constance moved to Paris for her remaining years.
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