Despite the French insistence that they live in a lay society, the remnants of Catholicism are everywhere from the multiple holidays that will be celebrated nationally this month (the Ascension and Pentecost) to the summaries of the life of each day's special saint that appear in the newspaper right next to the horoscope, TV schedule, and crossword puzzle.
In olden times, May 11, 12, and 13 were dedicated to Saints Mamert, Pancrasse, and Servais; today, they have been replaced by Saints Estelle, Achille, and Rolande. Yet the old names still have resonance for gardeners for whom they are the "saints de glace." Their days mark the time when it is safe to plant, when all threat of frost is over. And the statistics kept by modern day meterologists confirm the tradition. No frost in the forecast for Paris this week although it is damp and chilly enough to seem like winter has returned after the glorious days of late April.