I drive past Nonard’s cemetery almost every day. Never have I stopped and entered it. Never had the desire to. I never go to a funeral, so why would I want to go to a cemetry?  But today I stopped at Nonard’s cemetery and pushed open the wrought iron gate…..oh dear, do I see some frowns out there??

PS: I made a riz au lait to accompany this post, because I thought an old traditional dish like rice pudding would go well with the traditional cemetery and add a little bit of sweetness to an otherwise grim subject. But then my chickens were so cute today, the sun was so wonderful, the cats so playful  that I forgot about the rice inside on the stove and burnt it to oblivion! So…only cemetery and no pudding..

… three stones, one family…

Les cimetiéres in France are very different to those I grew up with…they are almost..pretty? I love a cross…not for religious reasons, just because, and in the French cimetiére there is no shortage of spectacular crosses. But let me not talk too much, I might just say inappropriate things, since I do sometimes have a wicked mind.

…through the open gate…

So, while walking through Nonard’s cimetiére , I heard all the stories being whispered around me…people who once were fathers and mothers, sons, grandchildren, sisters…If there is one place you can sit and be surrounded by stories, it is the cemetery. I thought of my own story, way back, when my father died  and I was a young and vulnerable teenager of fifteen.

…abandoned sites..

I can remember my mother’s black dress she wore for the funeral and for weeks after.  I remember her beautiful brooches she always wore with her dresses. A scarf. Black shoes. I always thought she looked very elegant in black with her black hair, dark eyes and olive skin. I have no idea what I wore. After that day, it became custom for my mother and I to visit the cemetery every Sunday afternoon with a bottle of water, a cloth and a bunch of flowers. Our sweet, sweet neighbour across the road always came by the morning with flowers she picked from her garden, knowing our ritual by heart.  On arrival, my mother walked around the stone, inspected it and and found  fault  here with the stone that chipped, and there with marble that moved…it is after all a thing that stands on ground that move? I think that was her way of just controlling her emotions. My task was always to empty  the dry flowers, fill the vase with  fresh ones, wipe the dust from the marble and then I  joined my mother, where she just stared at my father’s name. I stared too. In silence. We continued that ritual for years, every Sunday afternoon, until I left home to university.

..to my grandpa, to my mother, to my father, to our friend, to my cousin, with sorrow,..

…age old plaques, broken, worn, sad…

I  have no doubt that it is one of the reasons why I hate a Sunday and why I feel depressed for a whole Sunday, especially the afternoon. But I suppose there is no difference between Sunday rituals at the cemetery; flowers, a cloth, fresh water, staring. Wondering. And remembering. A cemetery has its stories.  Touching. All the same, yet so different.

…a private family…

…two families resting together – what would their story be?..

..and finally, to lift the dark veil a bit and to reveal the wicked side of my character – 2 statues I would love to have in my garden and 4 vases for my home!…

…and dare I bring in a little humor  with the abandoned stone reminding me of the Titanic (bottom left), and a Jesus about to fall out of his vase any minute(bottom right)? Of course I can! In the saddest moments lies the biggest humor…that is what keeps us going. In fact, there is very little difference between laughing and crying…?


Pinch of salt:

 Inspiration: 2 star chef Jean Sulpice:  His restaurant, Oxalys is the highest in Europe, at 2 300 m above sea level where he serves food of the highest quality and ingenuity. What inspires me is his devotion to his passions: his work, his family and  his mountains. He watches the weather every day from his window high up in Val Thorens to see how his clientele will turn out. He rises every morning at dawn for his exercises in the mountains with his skies in winter and hiking in summer. He takes his son to preschool and serves lunch to the school:  healthy vegetable soups and delicious chocolate mousse, which leave the kiddies with broad chocolate covered smiles! A young man full of joie de vivre and a vivid passion for what he loves!

What inspiration!


Rest in peace until next time

..from your wicked, Nonard cemetry intruder..

9 thoughts on “A French country cemetery and no dessert because it burned!

  1. There is a beauty in cemeteries – and it is in the way loved ones chose to remember – and of course the stories – the stories that you sometimes hear on a breeze.


  2. The story of visiting the cemetery with your mother is so bittersweet. I can so easily picture her sitting and staring, while you busy yourself with the flowers.
    I, too, love cemeteries and reading old headstones. My daughter and I spent many hours at Montmarte (in the rain!) reading and reading and admiring the statues.


  3. Sometimes,cemeteries are interesting. But only the very old, with a mish-mash of styles and lichens obscuring details. I loathe the modern kind,ram-rod straight and sparse.

    That notice from the Mairie? I suppose it is sad, but I find humour in it. A sort of “if you aren’t going to use this, we’ll take it back!”


  4. Driving through the cemetery was part of my family’s Sunday ritual after the noon meal with my Grandmother and my parents. Any time I go back “home” (which isn’t home anymore), I feel an obligation as well as a need to follow that ritual. Someday I’ll be buried along side my family. One wonders who will drive by then…..

    French cemeteries are very pretty, yet haunting.


  5. I love cemeteries. I love the peace, the quiet, the stones, the stories, the grief, the loneliness, the beauty, the morbidity, the ruins, the dates, the masses, and the ceremony. Walking among the gravestones reminds me of how precious my moments are. I grew up visiting grave sites after church on Sunday, too. I don’t do that anymore, but I should. Thanks for the beautiful tour.


  6. Looks a lot like St. Louis cemeteries (there are two of them) in New Orleans…where the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is buried. Good to know they are authentic. And you must give us the rice pudding recipe some other time. It is a favorite comfort food of mine…with lots of cinnamon, some anise, maybe toasted almonds?


  7. I think the riz au lait was sacrificed for a good cause 🙂 What lovely photos of the cemetery and I enjoyed your Pinch of Salt!


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