In Paris’ city of the dead, where winding cobblestone pathways have their own street signs, graves look like small gothic houses and the likes of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde have been laid to rest, there is one grave amongst the maze of tombs in Père Lachaise cemetery that’s not quite like the others. And apparently, this grave, is very happy to see you…
Victor Noir died in less than usual circumstances. He was a journalist in Paris when he became involved in an editorial dispute over a letter by Prince Bonaparte published in a rival newspaper. The details are a little complicated and hazy, but all you really need to know is that in 1870, Noir and his mates were challenged to a duel by Prince Bonaparte Victor ended up getting slapped in the face by the Prince and then shot dead.
Almost 100,000 attended his funeral procession, outraged that the already unpopular Prince Bonaparte, great-nephew of Napoleon, was acquitted of the murder. To place above his tomb, a realistic life-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Jules Dalou, portraying the slain journalist at the moment of his death, when he fell backwards on the street, dropping his top hat beside him.
No one knows the artist’s true reasoning behind it, but as you might have noticed by now, the statue of Noir has a very noticeable bulge in his trousers…
Over the years, and with the Père Lachaise being the temple of superstition and Parisian folklore that it is, Victor’s grave actually became a fertility symbol for women. The myth says that placing a flower in the up turned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area, will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life, or a husband within the year. As a result of the legend (and many years of rubbing), the area around his genitals have become rather well-worn and shiny in comparison to the rest of the grey-green oxidized bronze, leaving a rather unfortunate looking stain on his trousers now too.
In 2004 a fence was built around the grave to prevent women from touching the statue and doing some other rather inappropriate things on a dead person’s grave (see for yourself here, here and here), but due to supposed protests from the “female population of Paris”, and the rallying of a French TV host, the fence was taken down.
Interesting! I have never heard of this grave! I love a good cemetery with a unique grave (as odd as that may sound to some!) Thanks Carmen :)