She Leapt Without Looking and Tumbled into the Seine

After seeing La La Land, I thought about the Aunt (in Emma Stone’s solo song) who purposely jumped into the River Seine and, as the lyrics go, “would do it again”. This got me to wondering if this leaping thing is fashionable amongst the Parisian set.

I uncovered a fascinating story of a purported suicide victim who was found in the Seine in the 1800’s whose flesh was so perfectly preserved that a cast model was made and commercially reproduced, eventually becoming the face of the CPR practice dummy known worldwide as Rescue Anne. Sometimes called the Mona Lisa of the Seine, because of her conspicuously inconspicuous smile, she has also been called L’Inconnue de la Seine and in French, Resusci Anne. Naturally, she also lays claim as “the most kissed lips in the world”.IMG_1977

So who was she, really? There are many theories of who the dead girl was but my arduous research (from the comfort of my Paris apartment whilst drinking coffee) yielded that the Lorenzi Family in Paris who makes masks of both the dead and living believe that Rescue Anne could not have been a corpse. The eyes of the cast show movement. Ew?IMG_1978

Searching for info on how many people die in the Seine each year, a plethora of dead people surfaced. Pun intended.

As recently as 1961, the Seine in Paris was the site of the intentional disposal by French authorities of at least 40 Algerians (some have this number as high as 300).IMG_1972

Throughout history of the Seine has been a floating graveyard. The always reliable Wikipedia has this to say: “The river is a popular site for both suicides and the disposal of bodies of murder victims.”

Indeed between 1795 and 1801, 306 bodies were pulled from the Seine. A special morgue was opened near the Notre Dame and the bodies were displayed for people to view and claim.

In 2007, more than one body per week on average was pulled from the Seine (on a brighter note, 140 were saved). In 2008, the body of one of the world’s first black supermodels, Katoucha Niane, was found floating near the Pont Alexandre III Bridge. How many deaths are intentional and how many are tragedies? I couldn’t get clear information on this from the comfort of my Paris bedroom. Back then to the Aunt in the La La Land song lyrics who “leapt without looking and tumbled into the Seine” the song goes on to say:

She captured a feeling, a sky with no ceiling

Time for me to get dressed and look for the sky with no ceiling. It’s sunny and 64 today in Paris. A perfect day for a stroll along the River Seine.

15 Comments

  1. I had a death mask of this young girl who jumped into The Seine. It was a bit creepy, though, so I sold it at auction.
    Thousands of them (masks) were moulded.
    Thanks for following my posts. See you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. B, did you know they closed the quais to cars so little restaurants, gardens and dance floors are springing up everywhere along the river banks? I’ve been reading the closing happened just this week but is permanent. It’s extraordinary! I will think of you next time I take a stroll. Which is your favorite bridge?

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      1. I heard about Hidalgo’s latest craze. (Problem is all traffic has gone upstairs…) But now, with Spring on, it must be very pleasant. Send me a vibe on your next stroll. 🙂
        Favourite bridge? Difficult. Pont des Arts, no doubt. Pont au change. Pont Saint-Michel… But the most beautiful is Pont Alexandre III. 🙂
        Where are you guys staying?

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      2. We are in the 2nd this trip. Close to the Bourse stop. I like staying in different arrondissements each time. We’ve now stayed in 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 14. Do you stay at the same place each time?

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      3. For the past 6-7 years we do. I’ve found a little house with a garden to rent in the 15th. Peachy. We just use our Pass Navigo and move around. (You have Navigo right?) We lived close to Bourse, Rue Saint-Joseph, right after we got married. Nice area. Bon week-end (I hope your parents are all right. As much as can be)

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      4. Don’t know where we would be without the Navigo. My parents are stable right now. We helped my dad buy a van with a handicap lift on it the day before we left for Paris. This lets my sisters take him places. He is so happy not to be housebound. Mom is happy about it, too. They needed a van to get all their chairs and walkers in so they could ride together. Thanks for asking about them.

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  2. Eeek! Creepy. The Danube in Vienna has a similar history. Around the turn of the century – I mean around 1900 – especially, a lot of desperate young women threw themselves into it. There was a place along the bank downriver from the city where a lot of the bodies drifted on shore. A man started burying them and putting gravestones or crosses with the words “Nameless” or “Unknown”. Today you can visit “The Cemetery of the Nameless” just outside Vienna – it is a moving place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s crazy. Puts a whole new tilt to “desperate time require desperate measures”. Not nice. I thought 1900 was about the time unclaimed bodies would be snatched up by medical schools? Maybe that was just in France.

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