jeudi 18 août 2011

Chat qui danse

Back in the day when street signs did not yet exist, it was convenient to refer to streets with reference to a noteworthy feature of them: a well (Rue du Puits-Aubray), a cross (Croix du Fief), a market (Vieille Boucherie), a trades guild (Cordiers, Forgeurs, Bouchers etc.), or a sign (La Corne de Cerf, La Pie qui Boit, etc.).
Consequently, Rue du Chat qui Danse (Dancing Cat Street) is the name of a sign referring to a pick-up joint that was well-known to sailors who took the opportunity during port calls in Saint-Malo to celebrate well-deserved reunions after long sea voyages.
Oral tradition has it that the animal depicted on this sign commemorates the only victim of a ship packed with explosives that prematurely blew up during the most famous of the Anglo-Dutch attacks in the 17th century (from 26 to 29 November 1693).
A monk from the Benedictine monastery offers us a few verses providing an account of these memorable events:
The Englishmen who, like the proverbial mountain
Only brought forth one poor rat,
In their Saint-Malo campaign
Only managed to kill one poor cat.
At No. 2 is the entrance to the Hôtel de la Bertaudière, with a portal dated 1649 at No. 4 Rue de la Bertaudière, which is presumed to be the birthplace of Robert Surcouf (Saint-Malo 1773 - Saint-Malo 1827).