Shop Signs: From the Ridiculous to the Sublimely Ridiculous, Paris-Barcelona Edition

Maybe We Should All Just Stick to Esperanto

June 24, 2013By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
Paris Update shop-signs
Illustration by Charles Giai-Gischia. Visit his blog, Traits-Drôles, for a larger version and more drawings.

It is a matter of public record, thanks in large part to the tireless research of the C’est Ironique support community, that Paris is full of commercial enterprises with names that Anglophones find, shall we say, ill-advised. Like this one, sent in by reader Jim Hutchinson:

Paris Update 1-FocHour
Two important details here: the shop next door sells (or rents?) lingerie and the guy out front is lighting a cigarette. I guess his hour is up.

In previous installments of this recurring feature (see part six, which contains links to parts five, 4, III, B and une), I limited my scope of investigation to Paris, with the occasional detour to the provinces. But of course the pleasure of inadvertently inappropriate English doesn’t stop at the French border.

And thus, because there are other cultures deserving of our attention, because I want to do my part to promote international misunderstanding, and because I just spent a week there engaging in R&R&RR (rest and relaxation and rube-like ridicule), this week’s C’est Ironique has a special guest city: Barcelona.

I was happy to be in Barcelona, which happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth. And the people of Barcelona were happy, too, judging from many of the signs that I happened to see.

There was this school in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district:

Paris Update 2-HappyWay
A baby in a mortarboard sitting on a train. What’s the message here? Get a degree and you’ll still end up riding the freights?

And this bookshop:

Paris Update 3-HappyBooks
Despite the name, it does not sell English books. Which made me unhappy.

And best of all, this, ah… Actually, I’m not sure what this place sells:

Paris Update 4-HappyPills
This store was always jammed, leading me to conclude that when it comes to mood enhancement, pills beat books any day.

Besides the meds, why are Barcelonians so happy? Could it be because they keep seeing three little words?

Not those three little words — just three English words. It seems to be a Catalan marketing fad to name commercial outlets after what they have to offer. Like these two eateries in the Ribera district:

Paris Update 5-CocktailsFoodMusic

Paris Update 6-DrinkFoodLife

So if you’re in (a) that neighborhood and (b) the market for food and drinks, you must then choose between music and life. Much as I enjoy a nice tune, I think I’d have to opt for maintaining the old vital functions.

Then, after dinner, what else goes with wine and song? This fashion shop has the answer:

Paris Update 7-SexFunLove
Three of my favorite things — and in the ideal order!

Other places in Barcelona seem to be happy getting by with just two words. Sometimes apparently selected by a monkey at a typewriter:

Paris Update 8-Ale-Hop
This is part of a chain of three stores. The other two are called Stout-Skip and Bock-Jump.

Well, at least absurdity is better than obscenity:

Paris Update 9-AnasImpact
I’m not sure which is worse, their judgment or their spelling.

If you do shop there, watch your back. And if you shop in this next store, watch your… Well, just watch it:

Paris Update 10-Pimp
T-shirts, denim jackets, fur-trimmed fedoras…

Just as the road from procuration leads to incarceration, the pavement from Pimp leads to:

Paris Update 11-Siberia

It’s hard to see in the photo, but it sells women’s shoes with very high heels, lending new layers of meaning to the first two words of the popular vulgar expression for that type of footwear.

I guess I’m glad it was closed. Now, to return from the wearable to the edible, this next establishment was, fittingly, closed as well:

Paris Update 12-CafeKafka

Check it out on “Metamorphosis Mondays.” The waiters wear costumes.

If the idea of servin’ vermin puts you off the idea of dining out, you can buy some groceries here:

Paris Update 13-Sucs
How’s the food in that store? And how about the service? The pricing?

On second thought, maybe it’s better to eat out after all. But not here:

Paris Update 14-El-Glop
The house specialty must be carne de vaca con crema en el pan tostado.

Which brings us back to Paris, where reader Roger Foreman spotted a few restaurants that serve similar fare:

Paris Update 15-Goo-Sushi
Well, if you don’t want to eat glop tonight, what do you want? Photo: Roger Foreman.
Paris Update 16-Sushi-Yuki
I think I know what happened: the owner gave his five-year-old daughter her first taste of raw octopus and then asked what she thought he ought to name the restaurant.
Paris Update 17-Cafe-du-Puc
It’s probably the same owner, only for this one he asked his 13-year-old son to think of the name.

And even then, he only chose “Puc” because his first pick was already taken:

Paris Update 18-Ki-Fok

Just wondering: does “ki” by any chance mean “hour”?

Seen a ridiculous sign in Paris? Send a photo to


© 2013 Paris Update


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