Photo of the Week

ParisUpdate-ParisNight

The view from the Théâtre de l"Odéon at dusk. Photo: Françoise Deberdt-Meunier

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Left Bank gallery crawl
> Open house at 50 galleries for Art Saint Germain des Prés. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Gold in galleries

ParisUpdate-CarreRiveGauche-Passage AH 0

“Passage” ((2017), by Aude Herlédan. At 1831 Art Gallery during Carré Rive Gauche.

> The Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Left Bank galleries, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event called ExtrORdinaire, featuring gold in works of art. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Literary evening
> The Nuit de la Littérature in Belleville and Ménilmontant presents 20 foreign authors reading their work in French. Various venues, Paris, May 27.

 English-language theater festival
> Paris Fringe returns for its second year of English-language theater and comedy. Various venues, Paris, May 18-28.

Hollywood glam
> Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and more in classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age for the Glamour cycle. Forum des Images, Paris, May 3-31.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Etienne Comar’s Django, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, May 26.

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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Hot Topics - C'est ironique !

 

Weird English Shop Signs, Part 16: Beyond the Périphérique, the Border, and All Reason

What Exactly Is
This Supposed to Mean?

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-GreadyBrunch

Since “brunch” is a portmanteau of “breakfast” and “lunch,” maybe “gready” is a blend of “good” and “ready.” Or “greasy” and “shoddy.”

When I went to Brussels just two weeks after the horrific terrorist attacks, I saw it as an opportunity to get the answers to several weighty questions:

Are the people of Brussels, like the people of Paris last year, showing remarkable spirit and resilience in the wake of tragedy? Answer: yes.

Is Brussels, like Paris, still a great place to visit? Answer: yes.

And, most importantly, is Brussels, like Paris, full of odd, funny and just plain bewildering uses of English in commercial signage that I can ridicule in this recurring feature? Answer: a resounding...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-YesBrussels

“Do you own a store?”

“Yes.”

“What’s it called?”

“Yes.”

“Wait — what’s its name?”

“Yes.”

“You didn’t understand me. What is the name of the store?”

“Yes.”

“Can you say anything besides ‘yes’?”

“No.”

I was also pleased to discover, on a side trip to Antwerp, that Belgium’s other great city is no slouch in the English abuse department either, thanks to shops like:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Formen

I imagine the owner at a government bureau registering his new business:

“What’s the name of your store?”

“Formen.”

“Is it for women or men?”

“For men.”

“How many employees do you have?”

“Four men.”

“Are they regular workers or supervisors?”

“Foremen.”

“Which form have you filled out?”

“Form N.”

I wonder if the same person owns this place:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-WoMen

Since it’s a hair salon, I vaguely suspect that the apostrophe in the name is supposed to indicate that it’s unisex. You know, so that no women will come in, not expecting to see male customers, and exclaim, “Whoa! Men!”

Antwerp is also home to:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-HouseOfBrows

“Can I help you?”

“No, I just came in to browse.”

“Hey, this isn’t a museum — either buy something or get out!”

Actually, it’s probably a specialized epilation salon. In case you want to get plucked but not fleeced.

And after you get your forehead shorn there, you can get your feet shod at:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-JustaShoe

Or rather your foot — judging from the name, there’s a limit of one per customer.

If you really want to buy a pair, you’ll have to go back, perhaps in disguise, to get the second one. But once you have both shoes, you’ll be able to:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-WokAWay

In fact, if you’re not feeling...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Subdued

... you can walk all the way back to Brussels. But it’s a long hike. By the time you get there you might not have the energy to...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-StepUp

... to the door of what has to be the most bizarrely named fashion boutique in the entire country:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-IronFist

Fittingly, they have skeletons in the window. And presumably in the closet.

So I would strongly advise that the first thing you do in Brussels is get some nourishment, preferably fast carbs. Because if you don’t, it might be a choice between...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-YouCakeOrDeath

Given the option, it’s much better to go with cake. Because otherwise your family is going to be:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-SittingWithTheBody2

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get your lifesaving cake on the house, in which case afterwards you’ll feel...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-FitForFree

... and ready to give the city a...

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Full Look

Later, if you’re driving back to Paris from Brussels, I recommend taking a wrong turn outside of Cambrai and heading southeast instead of southwest so that you end up in Metz, a city that I know nothing about except that it’s home to a store renovation company that I’m dying to stick into this article somehow. 

And since making fun of its name involves (or rather implies) strong language, I should probably also stick in a:

Parental advisory!

If you happen to be one of my parents and don’t want to confront the unseemly prospect of your dear son making puerile fun of a proper name that (sort of) contains a “bomb” word, I advise you to read no further.

There’s a whole story here. About 10 years ago I saw a truck from this company drive down my street in Paris, too fast to read the name completely. Specifically, I didn’t see the L’s. Which kind of changed the effect:

ParisUpdate-CestIronique-Flucklinger

As regular readers can easily imagine, the hours that I spent vainly scouring the Internet for such a trade name should have been devoted to a nobler cause.

Now the Flucklinger crew is back in Paris, working on a store in my neighborhood. And inadvertently solving a mystery that has haunted me for a decade.

Advisory for practical jokers who are even more puerile than I am:

The store they’re renovating is on Rue des Martyrs. The L’s in the logo on the truck are exactly half an inch wide and 13 inches tall. The hardware store at the bottom of the street sells half-inch white tape and scissors. You didn’t hear it from me.

Have you seen a ridiculous sign in Paris, or anywhere in France? If so, please send a photo to me in care of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

David Jaggard

An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is available from Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors.

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