Paris death salon shows life in funeral industry

Fri Apr 8, 2011 11:07am EDT
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By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - "Care to try out the coffin?" Surprised but intrigued, the young man lays himself down on the ivory satin fabric and holds his breath as the heavy lid closes over him.

At the Salon of Death, everything is permitted.

For the first time in Paris, death is the star at a free exhibition taking place underneath the famed Louvre museum.

"It's good to talk about death in the heart of the capital, because we're a society pretty much based on consumption and leisure," said Jean-Paul Soltani, who makes funerary monuments in the northwestern region of Brittany. "And here, we're right next to the museum where they've got pharoahs' tombs!"

Funeral parlors, organ donation societies, embalming techniques, and lots and lots of marble -- it's all on display at the Salon of Death, in a surprisingly clinical atmosphere.

Organizers hope some 25,000 visitors will stroll through the Salon to admire the rows upon rows of biodegradable coffins or the luxurious funerary urns.

Or rest one's head in a coffin, as the case may be.

"There you go, I did it," said one young man who braved the experience. "It felt like chasing away a little devil."   Continued...

<p>A television journalist speaks to the camera as she tries out a coffin, which is at the disposition of visitors to "test-drive" during media day at the "Salon de la Mort" (Funerary Show) in Paris April 7, 2011. Some 100 companies take part in the three-day event which presents services and funerary articles such as coffins, grave stones and urns. REUTERS/Charles Platiau</p>