Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bag Bottom Ballarney

Bag Bottom Ballarney, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.
Oh dear. I think I'm starting to lose it.

I am now unable to walk down a normal Parisian street without stretching my neck and twitching my head like a turkey training for Christmas or even just one of our common or city pigeons who are accompanying me along my Paris idyll.

What can this mean? Early onset madness? Creeping insanity? Or just a heightened awareness of things? In any case it's worrying... me and my friends!

Because of this illness I'm currently incapable of strolling the sidewalks of the capital (or the middle of the road, more often than not) without looking to right and left, up and down, in the not so unlikely hope of seeing something interesting. Sometimes intriguing. Often historic. Occasionally weird. And from time to time startling, shocking or smile-inducing.

All of this for the price of a few pairs of shoes and a neck massage, which, by the way, you can get for free (don't forget the tip says the sign... err, what?) in the down town Marais on any given Sunday. Haven't tried it yet. Too busy taking pictures of things like this.

Like, err, what, exactly, Mr. Sab, one of my student's might be tempted to ask.

Ah hah, well now, you see, this is payment for all this head twitching and neck stretching, you see...

What we're looking at here is in the interior of a little turning, up under an arch, so it just goes to show, us twitchers do sometimes unearth things which might pass the average wanderer by.

And what's so amazing about a street sign, you might ask? Well it is interesting, honestly, because I only know of two examples of this type in Paris, and it's history crying out to us from the very walls we wander by.

This in in the Marais, and indicates a change of French mentality. A famous French writer or poet, ohh, who was it - I'll get back to you on this one - probably Hugo or Voltaire, objected to calling a dead-end street a 'cul-de-sac', which is French for 'bottom of a bag', or something from which there in no way through. 'Cul' is also French slang for ass or arse, and the poet remarked that these little dead-end streets look neither like bags nor arses, and so shouldn't be labelled so.

He considered 'impasse' far more elegant and correct, and so it came to pass. Luckily for us, however, a couple of the original names are still holding on grimly to existence, and you can see one of them here.

The original name, 'Argenson', referring to a Seigneur who held land and a mansion in these parts around 400 years ago. So there you go. Who know where the other one is..?! Or any which I don't know about for that matter, do share, and I will too. Use it or lose it is what I say. Although, as I said earlier, it may be way too late for me ;~Sab

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...