touristic ignorance?

July 31, 2005

Advisory to future visitors to Paris:Do not attempt to run in a cemetary.
Out for my morning run, I decided today to see if I could locate the cemetary that I heard was not too far from where we were staying. Seeing as how I am incessantly on the prowl for a scenic new route, and had already completed approximately 15 circlings of the small park I had found the previous morning, I was more than up to the quest. Besides, I hqve a particular fondness-inexplicably-for meandering through cemetaries. So off I went.
Sure enough, a few busy Parisian intersections later, I saw a gate behind which promising glimpses of greenery appeared. I did not expect quite so ,qny paved paths, imposingly gated tombstones, and crowds of tourists, but the entrance was large and open, so in I went. Only a few yards in, however, I thought I heard shouting, so pulled my earphones off and looked around. There I saw a uniformed guard running towards me.
“Arrete! Arrete!” I stopped–without hesitation. “Pardon, monsieur–il faut payer?” (I’m sorry, sir–do I need to pay to enter?) . . . A few interqctions later, I discovered that the problem was not my lack of an entrance fee. In fact, he informed me, it is forbidden to run in the cemetary.
Frankly, I immediately realized that it was silly of me to not have foreseen the possibility of such a cultural rule, and so I berated myself for the remainder of my run (in the park) for such ignorant insensitivity on my part.
Interestingly, though, is that I discovered another aspect to my ignorance after speaking later in the day with a French friend about my experience. See, not only was I attempting to run in a cemetary. I was running in the resting place of Voltaire . . . and Jim Morrison. Oy ve.

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