Photo of the Week


Humor on the hoardings spotted before the first round of the French elections: “John Goodman (Jean Gentilhomme) for President,” the candidate of the “Nice Peoples' Party. That would make a change. © Paris Update












Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Silent films from Switzerland?


> They’re rare, but they do exist and can be seen at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, through May 2.

Voices from the North
> The Pølar Festival celebrates Northern European culture with films, concerts, talks and more. Various locations, Paris, through April 29.

Photo walk
> Eight Paris galleries hold special photography shows and events for Parcours Fotofever. Various locations, Paris, through May 1.

Photo shows galore
> Le Mois de la Photo has been moved from autumn to spring, with 96 exhibitions taking place all over the greater Paris area. See Web site for locations and dates.

Art videos
> The theme of this year’s Videobox Festival is “noise and movement.” Carreau du Temple, Paris, April 27-29.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Nicolas Boukhrief’s La Confession, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, April 28.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

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, through May 28.


Hot Topics - C'est ironique !


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

Follow C’est Ironique on Facebook

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."

Reader Reaction: Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to respond to this article (your response may be published on this page and is subject to editing).

Click here for more C’est Ironique! columns.

Support Paris Update by ordering books from Paris Update’s Amazon store at no extra cost. Click on your preferred Amazon location: U.K., France, U.S.

© 2012 Paris Update