I read Guadalupe Nettel’s novel ‘After the Winter’ some years ago before my first trip to Paris. In the novel two characters Cecilia and Tom play a sort of game with the graves they encounter in Père Lachaise. Perhaps less of a game and more of a kind of tarot reading with famous graves in place of cards. Tom invites Cecilia to wander through the cemetery and whichever grave catches her eye tells him something about her character and personality. I tried to play this game with my ex when we visited the famous cemetery. The first grave we stumbled upon was Colette’s, the second a male dancer, and third a sculptor (their names escape me, frustratingly).
When I met my current partner she was living in a flat in Gambetta, a neighbourhood that sits just beside the cemetery. She was the one to show me the grave of Rufina Noeggerath (pictured), a psychic and medium who was known as Bonne Maman. She said she overheard a tour guide speaking about the grave who said that if you touched it you would receive her blessing, luck and good fortune. We decided to try it for ourselves and both placed our hands on her grave at the same time.