6th August 2013

Paris and Père Lachaise cemetery

"Eat, drink and be merry: for tomorrow we die" should be the motto of any reveller. Mindful of this, after returning from checking out potential new artistes at the Nuits du Sud festival in Provence, I couldn't resist dropping in at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris to do homage at the graves of a few deceased bons viveurs. Here I found the final resting places of those eminent epicureans Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (who coined the phrase "you are what you eat") - their sarcophagi sadly neglected and unvisited, a stark reminder that we are all Nobby NoMates once we shuffle off this mortal coil. A little further off, Marcel Proust, a recluse for the last seventeen years of his life, finds equal solitude in death, his simple tomb unattended and adorned only with a pair of beribboned billets-doux from devotees. Jacob Epstein's sepulchre housing Oscar Wilde's remains is now encased in glass to prevent it being "defaced" (as the notice charmingly terms it) by the red-lipsticked moues of admirers of both sexes. Jim Morrison's grave is as ever surrounded by a permanent party, but, I noted with dismay, the gauche acolytes the Lizard King attracts these days are to be found swigging from cans of Carlsberg, rather than smoking the finest Moroccan red. Stopping off only to rub the crotch of the bronze effigy of nineteenth century hack Victor Noir for its beneficial amatory powers, I headed for my other favourite Parisian haunt, Le Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature - a 19th century collection of taxidermy and hunting memorabilia, housed in an elegant townhouse on the Rue des Archives, decorated with heavy brocade wall paper, Ottoman carpets and chandeliers with branches moulded in the form of antlers. Its exhibits include an impressive ten-foot polar bear (which dwarfs the one in my shop in Hackney), a marble canine sarcophagus and a trophy room with a 360 degree panoramic display of animal heads. I'm pleased to report that entry to both these inspirational locations is free of charge