The Sublimely Ridiculous Beyond the Périphérique: Even More Ill-Advised English Shop Signs (Part 14)

Special Guest City: Bordeaux

October 13, 2015By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
So many shops in Bordeaux have English names, the city passed an ordinance requiring them to line up in alphabetical order.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the science of origins. Not much, and on the shallowest possible level, but thinking. Our understanding of mankind’s place in the universe has been greatly enriched by such historic insights as:

• The human race probably originated in Africa.

• Western civilization probably originated in Mesopotamia.

• The concept of democracy probably originated in ancient Greece.

• This goddamn sore throat probably originated from that jerk with the full ear tattoos who was coughing like crazy without covering his mouth on a crowded Métro train the other day.

It’s not often that I get to contribute to the advancement of a scientific discipline, but today I have a groundbreaking discovery to add to this vast and august body of knowledge, namely:

• The ill-advised use of English in commercial signage in France probably originated in Bordeaux.

I base this hypothesis on two carefully researched factors:

1) Bordeaux and the surrounding region of Aquitaine were ruled by the English for 300 years, from 1154 to 1453, when the French finally drove les citronverties out after learning that they were making wine spritzers with Saint Emilion.

2) I went there last month, wandered around, and saw a whole lot of idiotic English signs.

In fact, so many that they could be strung together in a travelogue. A travelogue whose title would be:

Bordeaux, City of…

Image from Google Maps because I saw it from a cab and couldn’t get a shot and didn’t make it back to that neighborhood and the dog ate my flash drive.

Bordeaux is a beautiful city, with a stunning waterfront on the Garonne River, block after block of historic architecture, great food, even better wine and, best of all, the highest per capita density of poorly conceived English business names that I have ever seen.

The city is definitely part of the:


… one percent worldwide in the well-intentioned but failed use of English.

Of course, every travelogue has to start:


… so let’s start with the people of Bordeaux. Based on my own observations, and more importantly my need to make, desperately, some kind of transition to the next photo, they tend to be very style-conscious and pay close, meticulous attention to their wardrobes, hairstyles and appearance, right down to the:

Image also from Google Maps for most of the previously-mentioned reasons.

Not only that, but they seem to make a special effort to keep themselves and all of their personal possessions scrupulously clean. Look closely at any local resident, and you will notice that he or she has clean hair, clean fingernails, clean clothes, clean shoes and even a:


And once they’re all spruced up, they love nothing better than to go out for a nice meal. Bordeaux is home to an array of restaurants for every taste and preference. Some people prefer to:

ParisUpdate-Ironique-Eat Salad

While others confess to being a:


However, if you happen to be a:


You really should have a meal at one of the city’s most famous bistros:

Linguists and historians believe that this establishment is the origin of the well-known expression, “Never eat anything larger than your, or Pontac’s, head.”

Asian food is also in abundant supply, especially in the many small eateries that are easy to find in the city’s central pedestrian district, which is not but should be called the:


Astronaut Buzz Aldrin once had a dinner of stir-fried chicken and snow peas in Bordeaux, and the restaurant was renamed, sort of, in his honor:


Or was it Michael Jackson? In any case, the food is so good in Bordeaux that you might be tempted to forgo any other activities and:


But don’t, because you want to have time to stroll the waterfront and the city’s lovely historic center. Also because if you overindulge and don’t work off any calories strolling, you’ll need to buy new trousers and you might be embarrassed when the salesperson asks you:


This is only one of the sighs-inducing shop signs that you will find in Bordeaux. Why this fascination with English? Because it is such a:


In conclusion, anyone who can visit Bordeaux and not come away charmed by the myriad attributes of this wonderful city must be an:

Image yet again from Google Maps because I’m just a lazy bar-star.

This is Part 14 of a recurring feature. Click here for the previous installment, which contains a link the previous installment, which contains a link to the previous installment, which contains a link to the previous installment, which etc., so on and undsoweiter until you get all the way back to Part One. Or you can click your heels and say “There’s no place like home” and see where that gets you.

Have you seen a ridiculous sign in France? Trust me, you will. When it happens, please send me a photo in care of


© 2015 Paris Update


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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