Life in France: Explaining the Inexplicable

It's Not as Simple as A, B, C

October 25, 2017By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
No one expects a train station to be a model of orderly precision, but still…

The photo here shows the Hall 1 boarding area of Gare de Lyon, Paris’s main station for trains heading south. Notice anything?

Actually, I’m sure you don’t, because the photo’s too small. Have a look at these closeups of the track signs, in sequence from left to right:

What happened to B and F? I could imagine that they would eliminate B because it might sound too much like “D” in announcements made over the lo-fi PA system – there’s enough pandemonium in there already without people scrambling to change platforms at the last second. But if that’s the motivation, why skip F as well?

Interestingly, on the other side of the space, the subsequent tracks are lettered H through N with no omissions, as you can see (if you have a particularly keen eye) (or imagination) here:

Or you can click on the photo to enlarge it…

There’s only one possible explanation: somewhere in town, probably in the Catacombs, is a wormhole to another dimension containing all the things that theoretically should exist in Paris but don’t. It’s a long list, including:

• A bicycle delivery courier who would never dream of riding on the sidewalk.

• The enormous, phenomenally well-equipped school for the deaf whose “students” haunt the tourist sites begging for signatures on petitions and donations (as explained in more detail here).

• A hand-written restaurant menu in which every word is legible.

• An entire block unmarred by the leavings of dogs or smokers.

• An actual Parisian who actually calls the South Pigalle neighborhood “SoPi.”

• A real bagel.

• And, of course, tracks B and F from the Gare de Lyon.

Oh, and should the station ever reletter its platforms in normal, logical alphabetical order, a union that won’t shut down the entire train network with a month-long strike, claiming that the change of working conditions causes unfair hardship for its members.



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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