There were many Russian emigrants in France after the 1917 Revolution. Several of them lived, were as retired taken care of, in a small castle, and were as from 1927 buried in a nearby cemetery, which as from 1927 has become a Russian Orthodox Cemetery. It’s situated at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, a Paris southern suburb, and is shared by locals.
There are now some 15000 “Russians” buried here, most of them immigrants or descendants of immigrants, although, with the changed political situation, some have been exhumed and their remains have returned to their mother country. The cemetery is really beautiful, maybe partly helped by the nice autumn colours offered by gingkos and some other trees, which had more or less managed to keep their leaves.
Many graves have small openings, often filled with some souvenirs and by eggs, which have a great symbolic significance for the Orthodox for new life or as a connecting link between life and death. I didn’t see any Fabergé ones, although one of the Fabergé sons is buried here.
Among the personalities buried here you may mention several authors including Ivan Bunin, who received the Literature Nobel Prize in 1933, film directors, actors and actresses, painters… and Irena Alexandrovna, niece of the last Tsar, married to Felix Yusopov who participated in the murder of Rasputin.
One person, whose remains were never found after she was beheaded by the Nazis was the resistant Vera Obolensky, but she is remembered on a memorial and was honoured by Vladimir Poutine, when he visited the cemetery a few years ago.
Two celebrated dancers have also there tombs here. Serge Lifar was a principal dancer in the Ballets Russes and a much appreciated choreographer. He was also the ballet master at the Paris Opera for some 25 years.
The other dancer and choreographer is Rudolf Nureyev. His remarkable grave is a mosaic memorial which resembles an oriental kilim rug, which Rudolf was an admirer of (see also the top photo).
To end this post, let’s see Rudolf dance with Margot Fonteyn…
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