This won’t be the most read post of the year but hopefully it’ll sit quietly on the site to help those asking search engines for information.
Every few months a reader will email to ask where to find Laurent Fignon’s grave in Paris. There’s no grave, the double Tour de France winner died in 2010 and was cremated. His remains were placed in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, a tourist attraction for the graves of Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and more.
If you’re at a loose end in Paris the cemetery is worth a visit, a calm place in a busy city. It’s a tourist attraction with many famous people buried there, the list is too long but most people visit to see the tombs of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morisson and Edith Piaf although a range of celebrities, cultural figures and notable people from French history are buried there.
It’s not a select place, a pantheon of the great and the good. Laurent Fignon’s ashes probably weren’t placed there out of merit just that he was a Parisian and this is one of the city’s largest cemeteries. His presence is noted though and on a stroll through his was the only plaque with fresh flowers.
To visit: Fignon’s plaque is the the large Colombarium building, a repository for cremated remains… You’ll find the plaque on the ground level on the south-east side. It’s not hard to find with the pictorial tribute.
Fignon was quite the character as a rider and his biography, in French and English, makes for a good read.
Cycling writer Antoine Blondin was buried in Père Lachaise too. If you’re not familiar with him, he deserves a fuller mention on here someday. He was a playwright and author but enjoyed covering cycling and the Olympics for L’Equipe. It was said France’s sports newspaper became accepted reading in highbrow literary circles while Blondin was writing.
Blondin’s work can be impossible if not awkward to translate because it involves wordplay and frequent puns. When Tom Simpson took the yellow jersey in 1962, Blondin quips “Roule, Britannia” and peppers his piece with “Simpson Orient Express”, tea-drinking and the “maillot John” while Jacques Anquetil’s team are riding under the “Union Jacques”. That’s merely one example and like explaining a joke, dissecting the text takes the spontaneity away. Blondin wrote daily during the Tour. Best of all he’s not building the prose around the jokes nor crow-barring them into place for a laugh. You can read Blondin’s Tour de France chronicles as a series of jokes but his observations are often much more profound.
You’ll find his tomb in the 74th division near the Chemin Léger path and almost next to the perimeter wall, a flat, horizontal tomb with the granite plaque above.