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.

Retail heaven
> You can buy just about anything at the century-old Foire de Paris, a gigantic pop-up store. Porte de Versailles, Paris. April 27-May 8.

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.


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

There Seems to Be a

Paris Update HERCUT

Illustration by Charles Giai-Gischia. Visit his blog, Traits-Drôles, for a larger version and more drawings

Last December 31, I happened to be riding on a train along the coast of southern France. As I was gazing out the window, contemplating the year just past, the year to come, the sorry state of the world, the uncertainties of life and whether that odd abdominal sensation was related to the out-of-date yogurt I had had for breakfast, I happened to see, somewhere near Sainte Maxime, a large construction supply store with an English name. Or rather what some French person thought was an English name. The sign read: “Father & Stone.”

This buoyed my spirits considerably. It was heartening to be reminded that, no matter how much uncertainty we have to face in the unsteady course of our unpredictable lives on this precarious planet, there’s one thing we can always count on: unintentionally ridiculous English on French shop signs.

I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo from the train window and couldn’t find the place on Google Street View, but just to prove that it exists, here’s its website.

Father & Stone, and its menswear affiliate Uncles & Pants, are examples of a phenomenon that has served me well over the past three years (see part eight of this recurring feature, which contains a link to part seven, which contains a link to part six, which contains a link to part five, and so on back to part one, which contains a subliminal hypnotic message that will turn you into my unwitting zombie pawn forever).

As anyone who has walked down any shopping street in Paris (or read any of those C’est Ironiques) knows, English business names are very popular here. This is because an English name is supposed to sound modern, sophisticated and cosmopolitan. It’s not supposed to sound odd, cryptic and, especially if you’re British, obscene:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Top-fanny

“Bottom Fanny” would be more logical. Not better, just more logical.

Or, for a restaurant, odd, unappetizing and obscene:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Balls

No, this is not from the C’est Ironique photo-retouching lab (proof: see the Paris Update review).

Or obscenely unappetizing:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Dong Phat

Must be part of a chain with the previously mentioned Foc-Hour, Ki-Fok and Hong Phuc.

Or torturously unappetizing:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Au Grand Inquisiteur

The “Grand Inquisitor” is in the medieval village of Roquebrune, near Monaco. It seems to have a lot of Yelp reviews. Tip: don’t go on Poker Night.

Or explosively unappetizing:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Delhi Behli

This one is in the old town of Nice. Motto: “Our curry will leave you in a hurry.”

Or just plain weird:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs She s Cake

Yes, a restaurant in Paris called She’s Cake. Where you can shoes from a menu that includes she’s burgers made with ground shuck, topped with grated shedder and Swiss shard, served with shilled wine and chérie pie. But you can’t pay with a chit.

Another desired effect of an English trade name is that it’s supposed to sound cool, with-it and trendy. This doesn’t always work either:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs B-Square

If you want to stay at a hotel on Rue des Batignolles, you have to choose between this place and its rival establishment across the street, B There. It’s one or the other.

Speaking of states of being:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Be Girl Heartless Jeans

This is a fashion wholesaler on Rue Saint Denis, which, perhaps not coincidentally, happens to be one of the city’s main red-light districts. The presence of “Heartless Jeans” at the same address is perhaps not a coincidence either.

Of course, if people want to dress like B-girls, it’s their privilege. And then they can fill their apartments with equally tasteful furnishings from this homeware specialist on Rue Legendre:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Mobil home

Good news for Mobilhome customers: there has never been a tornado in Paris.

Just the place for decorators who want to achieve that “early double-wide” ambience.

And probably a better choice than this design shop on Rue Rochechouart:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs OopsHome

I guess everyone has an “oops moment” sooner or later. Like the founders of this music school:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Learn and Fun

In addition to guitar instruction, Learn & Fun also offers a lesson in branding: be sure to think and smart so you don’t choose and favorite a dumb and laugh trade name.

Indecent, distasteful, hopelessly unhip, just plain nonsensical... What kind of business owner registers a name like that? This butcher’s shop in the lovely Burgundian village of Pommard has the answer:

Paris Update Ridiculous Shop Signs Moron

Seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Or anywhere in France? Don’t be a heartless moron — send me a photo in care of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is now available on Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors. At $6.78 (less than €5) it packs a lot of punchlines per penny.

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