Photo of the Week


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

"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.




Hot Topics - C'est ironique !


European Shop Signs: From the Ridiculous to the Sublimely Ridiculous, Part Twelve

Special Guest City:
Seville, Spain


I don’t know what they half on sale, but I belief it would behoof the customers to buy it with lof as well.

The first time I went to Seville, I missed out entirely on one of the most important aspects of the local culture. In my report from two years ago, I discussed the city’s lovely and ubiquitous orange trees, its beautiful and omnipresent ceramic tilework and its comely and inescapable vestiges of ancient buildings. But somehow I failed to notice one other fundamentally important attraction: its baffling and pandemic pseudo-English shop signs.

Actually, there’s another aspect of the local culture that I missed out on then and also on my most recent trip this Christmas: flamenco. One of the many great things about Seville is that you can hear flamenco music virtually anywhere. I’ve seen it happen: in a café in the evening, someone takes out a guitar and starts strumming, someone else starts humming and soon everyone is clapping out the rhythm...

On this last trip, I went out for a walk one night, overheard a guitarist holding forth in a bar and paused out on the sidewalk to listen. The style was pure flamenco, but somehow the song seemed familiar. Then it dawned on me: he was playing “My Way.”

Fearing for the sanctity of Andalusia’s heritage, as well as my ability to stifle the gag reflex, I hurried down the street, where (this is all true) two blocks farther on another guitarist was plucking his heart out, so to speak, in another bar. I stopped to listen, hoping for a bit more authenticity, and went through the same phases: intrigued appreciation, followed by an inkling that I’d heard the tune before, followed by the deflating realization that it was yet another emetic American pop ditty from the 1970s — in this case, Barry Manilow’s “Could It Be Magic?”

I had to wonder: with such a rich and wonderful traditional repertoire, why would any flamenco guitarist want to play such purgative schlock? My guess: it makes the dancers stomp even more loudly on the floor.

Now that I’ve given everyone two earworms, I promise to devote the rest of this report to the baffling pseudo-English shop signs. Like this one on Plaza Alfalfa:


At last, a place where you can literally get lip service! And speaking of contrived portmanteau words to sell cheap food, on Plaza de la Encarnación they also have:


Perfectly logical! You see, they make sushi and they also make “burguers,” so...

So we’d probably be better off sticking to poultry. For example, here:


The mixture of languages in that list on the door is quite impressive. Not quite comprehensible (“A double portion of serendipity, please, with extra cheese”) but quite impressive.

And while I’m on a roll:


Would you like some six and drogs with that? For the latter, you might try this place:


Given Spain’s liberal marijuana laws, I’d be willing to bet that this dry-cleaning place gets at least a dozen American backpackers every summer who come in expecting to find an Amsterdam-style coffee shop.

Full disclosure: Toke Express is actually not in Seville but in the nearby (and stunning) town of Cadiz, where I also found:


So that’s where it all comes from! I didn’t know that you could just go buy the stuff! Too bad it was closed! I hope I can order online. With extra cheese.

Now then, back in Seville, from bluster to butter:


Oh what a difference a letter makes. In particular since it’s a children’s store, I have to hope that this Miss B. doesn’t slice herself up the way Madame did. Or maybe I’m just making a hasty and ill-conceived association.

Like this one:


This is a hotel in the center of town that apparently caters to nano-budget Eurail trash who also happen to be art collectors. A niche no one ever thought to address!

But when Faceburger is closed, where are those Europe-on-a-bootstring urban hikers going to find a centavo-saving meal? They can always trek on over to:


Now here’s a good example of the kind of thinking that sets the true marketing visionary apart from the rest of mankind. The other 6,999,999,999 of us look at the words “wok” and “walk” and say, “Yeah, they sound the same. So what?”

But the marketing wizard goes further, adding, “So, for the love of god, do not use those words together in the name of a restaurant!”

But, of course, not everyone listens to advice. Although I suspect that the owners of this next place did:


Judging from the logo and the prominent location (next to a Burger King on a main thoroughfare), my guess is that this is the actual Spanish subsidiary of Dunkin’ Donuts, and that the branding experts decided that Spaniards wouldn’t understand “donuts,” so they replaced it with a better-known English word.

But I love the implication: what exactly do you “dunk” coffee in? And how? And can I watch?

And most importantly, is it humanly possible to come up with an even more dumbfoundingly ludicrous business name based on that same brand?

The answer, I am very pleased to report, is yes:


My poorly focused photo is as pathetic as the line of reasoning here, which I imagine was:

1) We want to sell muffins and bagels.

2) Dunkin’ Donuts is a success.

3) “Muffin” ends with the same two letters as “dunkin’.”

4) So...

So the choice is clear: we should name the place “Facewok.”

Have you seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Or anywhere in France? Or anywhere kind of vaguely near France? Please send me a photo in care of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

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