Imagine you’re walking with me on my Notre-Dame and Ile Saint Louis literary walking tour and we’re standing amid the throngs facing the magnificent cathedral, and all of a sudden a gigantic giant shows up and starts scaling the towers. Well, that is exactly what happens in François Rabelais’s rollicking novel The Life of the Great Gargantua, published almost five centuries ago. In Rabelais’s book, the crowd in the square will pay dearly for the constant gawking at the giant by the people of this city, but thanks to Gargantua’s effort on the towers that day, this city will end up getting its name.
My book Writers in Paris, Literary Lives in the City of Light, tells all about it:
In 1534 the none-too-reverential lay priest and former Benedictine monk Rabelais published La vie très horrifique du grand Gargantua (The Very Horrifying Life of the Great Gargantua), which chronicled the adventures of the famed giant. During Gargantua’s first days as a student at the University of Paris, he is constantly pestered by Parisians in awe of his size. To get away, he takes refuge on the towers of the cathedral, where he decides to play a joke—un ris—on the mob gathered below:
“Then, with a smile, he undid his magnificent codpiece and, bringing
out his john-thomas, pissed on them so fiercely that he drowned
two hundred and sixty thousand, four hundred and eighteen persons,
not counting the women and small children."
A number of them, however, were quick enough on their feet
to escape this piss-flood; and when they reached the top of the hill
above the university, sweating, coughing, spitting, and out of breath,
they began to swear and curse, some in a fury and others in sport (par ris),
“Carymary, Carymary! My holy tart, we’ve been drenched in sport! We’ve
been drenched par ris.
Hence it was that the city was ever afterwards called Paris.”
The illustration of Gargantua on the towers of the Notre-Dame is by Gustave Doré, Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
David Burke’s Writers in Paris Walking Tours 2015 series continues through the spring, summer and fall. Check it out on www.writersinpariswalkingtours.blogspot.fr.
Come experience Eye Prefer Paris live with Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I personally lead. Eye Prefer Paris Tours include many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes, food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks and gardens and much more. In addition to my specialty Marais Tour, I also lead tours of Montmartre, St. Germain, Latin Quarter, in addition to Shopping Tours, Gay Tours, Girlfriend Tours, Food Tours, Flea Market Tours, Paris Highlights Tours, and Chocolate & Pastry tours.
Tours start at 225 euros for up to 3 people, and 75 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $210)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.