P1050358Living in another country, in another language, makes one stop sometimes to consider things locals just take for granted. Weird, funny, pretty or poetic. Signs are a favorite.P1080464 2

Take, for example, a sign warning that of a submersible bridge. Between us, what is the point of a bridge that goes under water? Also, I just love all the exclamation point signs. They’re a cross between OMG and WTF. The road equivalent of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”IMG_4601

On Tuesdays, we get a thick stack of ads from the supermarkets and elsewhere in the mailbox. Plenty of folks would rather not get this stuff, and, like New Yorkers who put “no menus” stickers, the French put “pas de pub”–no ads–stickers on their mailboxes. This one says, “no ads, have pity!” Again, I picture “The Scream.”P1070723

“Access reserved except those having the right.” Well, DUH. That is a sure-fire way to make me want to go check it out.633.Acces parking pietons

“Access parking pedestrians” or, in French you could read it as “access to pedestrian parking,” because adjectives (here, piétons would be serving as one) follow nouns (parking, because they say parking and not parking lot). It conjures up an image of a bunch of pedestrians, their walking shoes laced up, pacing in individual parking spaces.


This one has been up for at least a decade on a road into Carcassonne. “Warning: hen nests forming,” which is a way to say potholes are developing. However, several months ago, the city repaved this stretch so it’s now as smooth as a baby’s bottom, starting from this sign on into town. The sign remains, because, I guess, new potholes will be developing as soon as the fresh asphalt went down. Or else there are chickens lurking around that I haven’t spotted.


I have featured this one before, on my post about driving in France. But it still makes me laugh every time I drive past and still makes me think of “PeeWee’s Big Adventure.” I only just realized Tim Burton directed that movie. No wonder it’s so great. 05.FEBRUARY 12 - 51

As if anybody would miss a village up here on the top of the mountain. Unless you blink. And the village, Labastide-Esparbairenque, only has a center. It has more letters in its name than inhabitants in its village. Just kidding. The population is 83. Its name is a synonym for Timbuktu for Carcassonnais who want to say a place is at the end of the earth.IMG_4629

“No two-wheelers (bikes, scooters, motorcycles) allowed. No dogs allowed. No fires allowed.” And someone added “No idiots allowed. Forbidden to be a pig.”P1030175

This one is in a similar spirit (no stupidity allowed), but more polite. A boulodrôme is the place to play boules or pétanque. “Reserved for pétanque players holding a national license. The company and the municipality refuse any responsibility for all accidents provoked by unlicensed players. Spectators are asked to not cross the games. Thank you for your civility.” IMG_3169

Somehow it makes sense that the wine cooperative is on Avenue of the Bunch of Grapes. But the cemetery? BTW, if you see wine from Siran, buy it; it’s good.

Now a couple that deserve the exclamation point sign.P1030246

“Warning. Drivers beware. In case of a storm, you are asked to urgently evacuate your vehicle. The commune (the town) cannot in any case take responsibility.” It’s at a parking lot in Banyuls, on the coast. Makes sense–if the area risks flooding, it can’t be built on. And if the weather is nasty, people aren’t likely to go to the beach, so the extra parking probably wouldn’t be needed.P1050147

“Danger Bulls.” Running loose in the streets before the féria of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.P1070069

We’ll end with some pretty ones. I love the old road signs.IMG_4462P1080819

Wouldn’t you want to live on Little Fountain Street?IMG_4388

A blast from the past: public baths and showers, in Bize-Minervois. Until the 1970s, some houses in the ancient village centers didn’t have plumbing. Residents had to go to a bathhouse, which may have operated only once a week (to economize on keeping water and the building itself warm). P1020922

One of the faux road signs sold at tourist shops. Apéritif Place. With pictures of a glass of jaune (pastis), peanuts, olives and a glass of p’tit ponch–a little punch–rum with lime.

À votre santé!

42 thoughts on “Sign of Something

  1. A very enjoyable post. I always wondered what those exclamation point signs meant.

    Regarding your “bains – douches” “ghost” sign, today I posted a similar one from Paris on the “Ghost Signs France” group on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a brilliant selection .. I always love the very old fashioned to English speakers use of the word ‘pray’ for politeness. My favourite is probably the simple ‘centre ville’ …. living in la vraie France profonde much of the time, it always tickles me that villagers proudly display their department designated sign even though it is wholly un-necessary. Of interest is that we routinely use the Exclamation Mark on road signs in England too and it all pre—dates the UE so I have no idea whose smart idea it was first – perhaps a vestige of the Norman conquests, who knows?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great. I amuse myself on long drives with giggling at random signs.
    My family like to guess at translations, par example “voie unique ” is of course “single lane, but a certain member of my family is quite sure it means “unique platform” as voie is used at railway platforms also

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Know what song is running through my mind? Remember: “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…” Don’t know who sang it. A blast from the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The first time I saw the ! sign was visiting and it truly concerned me, couldn’t imagine what sort of shock was forthcoming. Also love the hen’s nest sign, we have them here in the Vaucluse. There is one near Cavaillon which has the sheep on it, and the word “troupeau” at the bottom, which of course is warning you that there might be more than one — love the idea of a “troop of sheet” ….. The one that says “cons” may also mean a word that begins with an “a” and ends with “hole” — a french person told me that one.
    bonnie near Carpentras

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hilarious collection! Whenever we see a ‘trous en formation’ sign, we’re always tempted to add: de cul. As for the handwriting at the end of that one sign, sauf erreur, I believe it is interdit d’être à poil! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder what incident occurred to provoke someone to write that. And they probably weren’t out and about with an indelible marker, so they had to be mad enough to go get one and return.



    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allow me to bring some information regarding the “Interdit aux deux roues…”sign: the second fake hand written forbidden notion means “Interdit d’être à poil” and not interdit d’être a porc (if it was, it should have been interdit d’être UN porc). Which means “Forbidden to be naked” , to be free or free spirit. This sounds rather seventies-nish to me this mention, nothing to be afraid off! You are lucky to leave where you are and I am happy that you can enjoy so much. Life is a joy too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right. Obviously I am going to flunk the French test for getting citizenship, since duh it would be un porc, and not à porc. I think they really did mean don’t strip naked, because it was a communal swimming hole, and probably somebody had run into someone who had gone…too far.


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