Photo of the Week

Paris-Update-view-from-louvre

Left to right: Eiffel Tower, Louvre Pyramid, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and Ferris Wheel. © Paris Update

 

Paris Update This Week’s Events

For full details about an event, click on the title to visit the official Web site (in English when available).

Drawing through the ages

Paris-Update-Matisse-les-pommes
"Apples" (1944), by Henri Matisse. Eric Coatalem Gallery.

> Salon du Dessin: 39 galleries showing works on paper, from Old Masters to contemporary. Palais Brogniart, Paris, March 22-27.

Contemporary drawing fair
> Drawing Now: 73 galleries, Carreau du Temple, Paris, March 23-26.

More contemporary drawings
>Ddessin: 20 galleries. Atelier Richelieu, Paris, March 24-26.

Art and design fair
> PAD (Paris Art + Design),
67 galleries, Tuileries Garden, Paris, March 22-26.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, March 23-May 28.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Audrey Dana's Si j'Étais un Homme, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, Feb. 24.

Documentary film festival
> Cinéma du Réel showcases documentaries from around the world. Various venues, Paris, March 24-April 2.

Suburban blues
> The Banlieues Bleues festival brings major French and international jazz acts to the Paris suburbs. Various venues, through March 31.

Before and after ecological disaster
> The Chic Planète festival presents two types of films, those celebrating the bounty of the earth and science-fiction views of what will happen after an ecopalypse. Forum des Images, Paris, through April 13.

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Paris Shop Signs: From the Ridiculous to the Sublimely Ridiculous, Part Three

What Were They Thinking?
Were They Thinking?

Paris Update Yuppies Cafe

It’s on Avenue MacMahon, just down the street from Targète, La Grange de la Poterie and Aliments Entiers.

When I was in undergraduate school in Texas, I used to frequent a wine bar called “Le Carafé.” Apparently they were looking for a French name and thought this sounded cool.

Apparently what they weren’t looking for was a French dictionary, because if they had looked up “carafe” they would have noticed that the noun is feminine (so it should be “la” and not “le”) with no accent at the end, and thus avoided making two oiseau-brained mistakes in just two words. Professionally painted on a big huge sign for all to see.

Then when I was in graduate school in Connecticut, there was a bar just off campus that I never frequented called “Chez Est.” Why, I don’t know — the phrase makes no sense (East’s Place?), doesn’t yield any discernible pun, and the bar wasn’t arguably on the east side of anything.

I mention all this merely to point out that the French don’t have a monopoly on boneheaded business names that try to cash in on the mystique of foreign words. But they do quite a good job, as I have pointed out in Part One and Part Two of this recurring feature.

For example, there’s this specialty foods shop-cum-cooking school on Rue Lafayette:

Paris Update CookGo

Go where? Home? At a sprint to the restroom, praying it’s not occupied?

Perhaps it’s a chef trained at Cook & Go (or its sister institution Heat It & Beat It) who opened this crêpe joint on Rue Galande:

Paris Update Creposuk1

They probably wonder why they don’t get any American tourists. Or maybe it’s to keep the American tourists out. In contrast, here’s a sign that would tend to bring them in:

Paris Update Fanny Look

This is a children’s clothing store on Rue du Faubourg Saint Martin. “Mommy, does this pinafore make my ass look big?”

Even with its creepily pedophilic-sounding name, I bet it’s more attractive to most Anglophone parents than its neighbor:

Paris Update Femy-Boy

Well, at least you know what you’re getting. Which is more than you can say for this next place, yet another children’s clothier on the same street:

Paris Update Happy Little

Happy little what? Femy boy? If the three stores merge they could call the new business Little Femy Fanny.

Since we’re veering into sexual innuendo, perhaps it’s time to consider this plaque for an engraver’s shop on Rue Dupetit-Thouars:

Paris Update Labia SM

So the family happens to be named “Labia.” No big deal. They didn’t choose it. But did they have to name their two sons Stéphane and Michel? And did they have to go into business together? And list their initials in that order? At least they didn’t open a bikini-wax salon.

Speaking of unfortunate name-career combinations, this next one is the plaque for a lawyer’s office:

Paris Update Asso-Lawyer

She specializes in suing people who make tasteless slanderous jokes about lawyers being jerks.

This Asso is actually in Nice. And since I’m straying beyond the city limits, I’d like to close with one of my all-time favorite ill-advised, but not Parisian, business names:

Paris Update Tennessee Tex Mex

It’s a Tex-Mex restaurant in Chinon, a wonderful wine town in the Loire Valley. (The “T” in “Tex” got scraped off the car window but is visible on the façade of the building.)

As far as I know this place holds the French national record for confused evocations of North America: a restaurant called Le Tennessee hopes to lure customers for its Tex-Mex cuisine with the image of a Native American wearing a kind of headdress originally worn only in the Great Plains. I bet their signature dish is clam chowder.

Many thanks to reader Paul Scott for his keen eye for irony and photographic contributions to this article.

Seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Send a photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

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Reader Stephen O'Shea writes: "'Le Carafe' is just fine for the name of a café, which is masculine. One of the major hotels in Montreal is Le Reine Elisabeth, as 'hôtel' is masculine."

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