• LOCATION 30 | The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I

    Victor Noir

    Our next host is on the right in a lower tomb under a bronze plaque.

    Victor Noir is in-between the tall tombs of Boudot et Thierry on the right and De Ycaza on the left.


    After the French Revolution, more than 80 years of power struggles ensued before democracy took hold. The last gasp of the monarchy was set off by an incident with an obscure newspaper employee.

    Victor Noir was the nom de plume of a budding journalist killed at 21 years old by prince Bonaparte. The prince was a relative of the reigning monarch, Emperor Napoleon the 3rd, the same guy who censured the press, and forced writers like Victor Hugo into exile. The little noble shot Victor six times when Noir and another witness went to pick up the prince and drive him to a duel. The prince was quickly tried and acquitted, paying only a pittance in damages for taking another man's life.

    More than a hundred thousand outraged people crowded for the funeral on a cold January day in 1870. It was a catalyst for anti-royal fervor. Later that same year, after a crushing defeat at a battle in the Franco-Prussian war they emprisoned the last Napoleon. They're taking him away ho ho hee hee ha ha. The Third République was declared, and finally stuck.

    20 years later, the remains of Victor Noir were transferred to Père LaChaise, and a new sculpture by Jules Dalou was placed over the tomb. It has become a symbol of the République. And also a quirky bit of folklore…

    Dalou's realistic method was to start by modeling the naked body and then clothing it in bronze. You can't miss the quite impressive bulge on the finished product. By the folds in the pleats of the pants and the top button coming undone, it evokes a sizable member writhing to escape. Notice the surface where the trouser legs meet is not at all oxidized like the rest. Legend says that young girls seeking to become pregnant, or simply to get lucky, rub the firm bronze and make a wish. Go on, give the old boy a stroke, everybody does it!

    When you're ready to get moving, turn with your back to Victor and make a right on the cobblestone path.

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The Chairfather: Père Lachaise Part I