Then and now: Sophie Blanchard in division 13 Père-Lachaise Cemetery

Madeleine-Sophie Armand madame Blanchard (1778-1819). 

For the past several years I've been collecting vintage postcards of grave sites in Paris, primarily in Père-Lachaise. This card recently popped onto the market -- and it just so happens Sophie is one of my favorite stories in the cemetery.

A widow (her husband had been the first to cross the English Channel by balloon) Sophie was quite probably the world's first woman aeronaut, a balloonist par excellence, a barnstormer who showed off her aerial skills at fairs and festivals around Europe.

She was known for her use of creative fireworks from a specially designed gondola. It was during just such a display near the Tivoli Gardens (now the Saint-Lazare train station) in Paris that her balloon caught fire and she fell out of the gondola, breaking her neck.  It's not surprising that her monument shows a ball of fire on top of a balloon. The postcard (c. 1900):

. . .  and today: