Norman’s been at it again. Nord Pas-de-Calais is considered by many to be the second-least-poetically-named French region (see our guide to Centre). The locals want to call it “Hauts-de-l’Artois”, which is a bit like saying The Heights of Norfolk. If you go there, and if you haven’t already alienated the entire population with cheap jokes about Norfolk, you could impress them instead with your stylish and idiomatic command of the Picard dialect. “Un n’incrach’ pon chés pourcjiaux à l’iau claire ” means “Round here, we don’t fatten pigs with tap water.” This will lend you an air of mystery. Or get you locked up. If things look like heading in the getting-locked-up direction, you can usually save the situation with “Armettez nous ches verr’ comm’ y’ z’étott !” (Landlord, another round!)
Every year, hundreds of thousands of devout English make a spiritual pilgrimage to Calais. They usually return on the same day, with much fuller cars. The first, and greatest booze cruise, which lasted 116 years, was made in 1346 by Edward III (see our guide to Lorraine). It took Edward 11 months to get into Calais (it’s much quicker now) and when he finally did get in, he was in a really bad mood. Edward’s first inclination was to massacre all the inhabitants, but after some deep-breathing exercises he’d learnt on his anger-management course, he decided to kill just six prominent citizens. The six Burghers of Calais bravely stepped forward, nooses round their necks (you can see Rodin’s sculpture of them in the main square.) Fortunately for the Burghers, Good Queen Philippa persuaded hubby Ed to be lenient, and suggested they both just do a bit of shopping and find somewhere nice to eat instead.
The French don’t have a word for double-entendre. Well, they do, sort of, but it’s not double-entendre. Several years after the business with the Burghers, Edward threw a ball in Calais. The extremely attractive Joan of Kent was there, and during a particularly energetic Pavane, her garter slipped down to her ankle. After a few moments of shocked silence, several guests began to giggle in a distinctly smutty way. Gallant Edward stepped forward, slipped the garter back up Joan’s leg and said “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (roughly, “You lot have got dirty minds”). After the ball, Joan asked Edward for a double-entendre, so he gave her one.
The entire Nord Pas-de-Calais region is now mercifully free from innuendo. Composer Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911) was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer and died of exhaustion after years of playing on his organ. Also born in Boulogne were the actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin (1841-1909) who was famous for his outstanding Hamlet, and engineer Frédéric Sauvage (1786-1857) inventor of the first propellor, which needed an enormous shaft. The city of Douai, meanwhile was the birthplace of sculptor Jean Boulogne (1529-1608) who was very skilled with his tool, and politician Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802) who once stood as an independent but eventually lost his deposit. Honi soit qui mal y pense.
© 2008 richardheacock @ mac.com
Nord pas-de-Calais Property SelectionListed below are the departments in the region of Nord pas-de-Calais; the number of properties in each department are denoted in brackets - click on a department to see the properties available.
All the properties in Nord pas-de-Calais by department.
(Number in brackets = number of properties)
Nord Property (5)
Pas de Calais Property (168)