Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HOT FLASH FROM PARIS: Le Cimetière des Chiens

My sister and I have been sharing stories of our menopausal angst lately, and she suggested I call my posts from Paris "Hot Flash from Paris" as a sort of double entendre (menopause gone front page). I haven't actually had a hot flash while here (thank heavens), but the name works.


Yesterday, my father and I took the Metro out to Le Cimetière des chiens (the pet cemetery) at Asnières-sur-Seine, a northwestern suburb of Paris along the Seine. I'd read about the cemetery online while fact checking a book on American cemeteries that we recently published at work.

The cemetery has a sad charm counterbalanced by the welcome of a family of very alive resident cats--all well fed and cared for by the official cemetery association and by unofficial but authorized (in true French fashion) volunteers.

A small black female cat with rich red undertones greeted me as I entered the cemetery and accompanied me along my stroll. Toward the end of our exploring, she jumped onto the bench I chose for a sit-down and began to groom. I sat quietly, admiring her coat and self assurance. As my reward, she eventually sidled up to me, stretched out along my hip, made it clear she wanted to be stroked, and began to purr softly. We sat together for quite some time, and yours truly fell totally in love.

When it was time to leave, the little cat accompanied me to the gate, and I bid my farewell, thanking her for her friendship. "Ils ont leurs tetes" (They have their ideas) one of the volunteers told me later about cats and whom they decide they like. Little "Princess" had decided she liked me.

I don't know if Princess even has a name, but if she does, it might have been chosen from among this selection of names from the headstones throughout the cemetery. In alphabetical order (more or less), they are:

Bibi-Bibiche-Bimbeau-Bijou-Bisou-Bigoudi-Catiche-Chouchou-Calinou-Coco-Dadou-Doudou-Fripouille-Filou-Fifi-Gigi-Gribouille-Gapi-Joujou-Lolotte-Loulou-Micha-Minouchette-Moumouche-Milou-Mimi-Miquette-Mamou-Nenette-Nounouche-Nanou-Nini-Ninine-Pompon-Pilou-Patou-Pipoune-Pikouche-Pacha-Poupette-Titi-Titoune-Toutou-Titite-Totoche-Youpi-Zizou-Zoé-Zouzou.

Try reading this list aloud. It's so much fun and so French--and you might even find a name you like for your pet!

Photos: Headstones and decorations at the cemetery; me with Princess

3 comments:

poodletail said...

Thanks for this charming post! I will put Le Cimetière des Chiens on my Paris to-do list.

Martha said...

How would you pronounce Poupette? (If it's what I'm thinking, my kids would love this name...) Should we be surprised if you have something furry packed in your return luggage? I can't WAIT for the photo essay.

fresca said...

BIG grin, reading that list!
Me too, I can't wait for the photos!