Rain in Paris, Rain in Normandy

Cabourg under stormy skies
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007

In May, some Parisians head south and others head west toward Normandy and the Channel. Each time I return to Cabourg, one of the beach towns located on the channel (I’m not sure if one can say the English Channel while in France), I get nostalgic. Cabourg, the town where Marcel Proust wrote A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, is the kind of turn-of the-century town that encourages nostalgia.

This is the town where I worked as an au paire for a Sorbonne professor and her three-year-old son Arnaud, who is probably now married and has his own children. Year after year, Parisians return to the same beachside resorts where they are likely to rent the same flat. Obviously with development, some of the old places disappear and newer ‘residences’ have popped up.

The new developments make it more difficult for those of us who are nostalgic to track down the old places where was was the building where we used to sit on the front veranda sipping afternoon cafe? In those days there was a routine to life at the seashore. Porridge in the morning for Arnaud, and then a morning walk on the beach come rain or shine. Then to the market to pick up food for the luncheon meal. In those days, we never went out to eat. All meals were prepared at the flat.




I had one day off per week – and sometimes in the evening after Arnaud was tucked into bed, I might take a walk down to the Hastings bar for a nightcap.

Cabourg was where I met Parisians at play – and as you can imagine, if you want to meet Parisians – the best time to make their acquaintance is on vacation – not in town.

Today we found ourselves once again in Cabourg, walking along the promenade – as Proust may well have done on overcast days. We can look out over the broad expanse of sand and the distant glimmer of a receding tide which inspired so many of the Impressionist painters. For a brief interlude, the sun broke through the heavy cloud embankments, just before the wind picked up, blowing sand in our face. Just enough time to duck into the Hastings for tea. Almost like the old days.

Chris says today, “I prefer the future and the past, I’ve always had a hard time with the present” – but today – for a brief moment when the sun shines over the inlet at Cabourg – is there any better place to be? Then just as suddenly, the torrents of rain break forth. And that also is good and right in its own time.