Il Pleut des Cordes and a Whole Lot of Saintly Ghosts
“Il pleut des cordes” = It’s raining cats and dogs.
That’s what it did in Nice on Monday, so unlike typical Niçois weather, just when the House Hunters International taping crew was trying to get some great shots of Riviera sunshine. For the French, heavy rain is imagined like ropes (“cordes”), while for us, we see cats and dogs.
The French expression makes much more sense, as it seems no one seems to know where “cats and dogs” originated. It was first recorded in a 1651 collection of poems by Henry Vaughan, Henry titled Olor Iscanus when he referred to a roof that was secure against “dogs and cats rained in shower.” A year later, Richard Brome, an English playwright, wrote in his comedy, “City Witt,” “It shall rain dogs and polecats.”
Nonetheless, that’s what it did in the city that claims 300 days of sunshine a year — which is a lie, btw. In truth, it can claim 2,724 hours, 147 days of strong sun and 64 hours of weak sunshine per year. Still, most Niçois are not complaining when one compares it to Paris: 1,662 hours, 51 days of strong sun and 152 days of weak sunshine per year. It’s one big reason you will find me on the Côte d’Azur more often!
Tonight’s a big night in the U.S. — Halloween — but not such a big deal here in France. It’s thought of as an American holiday, although its roots are European. Kids don’t go trick-or-treating and the French basically dislike it’s commercialism. The real holiday is Toussaint, or All Saints Day or All Hallows Day or The Feast of All Saints or Solemnity of All Saints. Yep, it’s a Catholic holiday, on November 1st for some and on the first Sunday after Pentecost for others, honoring you guessed it…all the saints, both known and unknown.
I’m personally not so into dressing up, although the Halloween before the 2016 elections, a friend and I dressed up as Twin Hillary Clintons…with hopes she’d be in the White House soon after. (The positive thinking didn’t get us very far, as you can see.) My daughter is a costumeaholic and dresses up every year and loves being as ghoulish as possible. This year she sent me photos of her and her friend, Chelsea, as vigilantes with toxic shock syndrome. Ugh! This photo is NOT going in my computer screensaver collection.
All Saints Day is a bank holiday in France, but that won’t stop the taping. Most years I try to celebrate the holiday by visiting a cemetery and laying flowers on someone’s grave. Whose grave depends on how I’m feeling or which cemetery I might be visiting. Last year, Patty Sadauskas, and I took a bouquet of golden-colored Chrysanthemums, noted for being solely used as funeral flowers in most of Europe, to the Picpus Cemetery. It’s the largest private cemetery in Paris, located in the 12th arrondissement between Place de la Nation and Place Félix Eboué (35, rue de Picpus). There is only one other private cemetery in Paris — the old Cimetière des Juifs Portugais de Paris in the 19th arrondissement.
There you will find the tomb of the General Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757–1834) — over which an American flag is always present, courtesy of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) — along with the plot of 1,306 beheaded victims executed by guillotine between June 14 and July 27 July, 1794, during the height of the Reign of Terror.
If I can find a moment during the taping, I might head to one of Nice’s cemeteries. There are 10 of note:
* Cimetiere de St. Barthélémy
* Cimetière Caucade
* Cimetière Communal de Ste. Marguerite
* Cimetière de Gairaut
* Cimetière de L’Est
* Cimetière russe de Caucade
* Cimetiére du Château
* Cimetière Israèlite
* Holy Trinity Anglican Church
* Magalas Cemetery
But of all of them, the cemetery to which one should make a special trip is the one on Château Hill, with its 2,800 tombs on the terraces affording breath-taking views of Nice and the Mediterranean. It was created in 1783 after a new law prohibiting burials inside of churches. A Jewish cemetery was built near the Christian one and another for non-Catholics was built in 1845. Never having visited it, this might be my golden opportunity. Here is where certain celebrities are buried…the founder of Mercedes, a Nobel Prize winner, the creator of Asterix comics and a host of others.
Meanwhile, graves in France are diminishing as cremation is increasingly common, especially in the cities. In 1979, just 1% of funerals involved cremation. By 2012, it was 32%, rising to 45% in Paris. Count me in, although…it’s not traditional in Judaism…but that’s changing even within the Jewish community. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
(Adrian in the Rain in Nice – photo by Erica Simone)
P.S. Friends of Parler Paris are welcome as guests to Le Matisse, my Niçois home. If you are interested in discovering Nice and staying Chez Le Matisse, please email me at mailto:[email protected]?subject=Le_Matisse
P.P.S. I am offering personal one-on-one two-hour consultations in the central Los Angeles area November 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th at a dollar rate (a 15% savings from the normal euro fee). If you are interested in booking one, please email [email protected]