French Week 2019 is Coming! (and the history of French street signs)

Aug 04, 2019

In just one week (une semaine!), TSLL’s fourth annual French Week will begin! And oh my goodness, what a week it will be! I look forward to welcoming you to join me and all of TSLL readers and community as we escape to France no matter where we may call home (psst – no plane or train ticket required!).

But before I share what the week will entail, did you know that every street sign in France has a history? Well, of course you did, because you are a Francophile! 🙂 But let me explain just in case.

Some ancient streets are named for the abbey that was located in that particular neighborhood. Others are named after a legend in politics, literature, science, exploration or the military, or a particular merchant originally selling their wares or offering their expertise on that street in their shop. And we cannot forget that France, especially since the revolution, has highly valued liberty, so you will also see streets named quite directly rue de la Liberté, avenue de la Libération and place de la Résistance, as well as after those who were social reformers, philosophers and writers who played a significant role in acquiring, maintaining and strengthening France’s liberty.

As you can see below, some signs are quite detailed and share the history directly on the sign placard.

Originally, prior to the French Revolution, it was the responsibility of the owner who lived on the corner to engrave a street sign on a carefully specified-sized stone tablet and place for all to see. However, after the French Revolution, all symbols of affiliation with royalty were removed or scratched out.

The classic French street sign made of porcelain (there are still a few around the city) began with Napoleon Bonaparte. “Napoleon Bonaparte was especially keen to have a beautiful nameplate hung on the cornerpiece of all streets. Finally, in the mid-1800’s a porcelain plaque like the ones we see today, was manufactured out of porcelain. The plaques were ordered to be made of white numbers and letters, on an azure blue background, framed in green”.

~1st and 4th arrondisement: namesake is Napoleon’s early victory against the Austrian army, at the battle of Rivoli, fought January 14 and 15, 1797; running along the north wall of the Louvre Palace and near Place du Palais-Royal.~
~French street signs available at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris~

If you would like to learn even more about this fascinating part of French history and current culture, read France Today’s post “Every Street Sign Tells a Story“. And now to all the details about TSLL’s upcoming French Week!

WHEN:

Sunday August 11th – Sunday August 19th

WHAT:

For eight days, TSLL will be awash and immersed in all thing French. And we only have one more week to wait. But if you would like French-Inspired posts now to tide you over, be sure to revisit TSLL’s previous French Week (links below for each year’s round-up of posts), and remember you can always check out TSLL’s French-Inspired posts in the Archives and ALL of the podcast’s French-Inspired episodes.

À bientôt!

~TSLL’s FRENCH WEEKS from PREVIOUS YEARS:

~2018 – French Week ~

~2017 – French Week~

~2016 – French Week~

~6th arronisement: located near Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots and the Jardin du Luxembourg , it boasts the most art galleries and antique dealers on a street in the world.~
~the street in the 7th arrondisement that Edith Wharton called home; Musée Rodin is located here; the official residence of the French Prime Minister is located on this street as well~


4 thoughts on “French Week 2019 is Coming! (and the history of French street signs)

  1. Interesting piece on tbe street signs . So unique the white on blue.Old ones are great to collect. A piece of french art that doesn’t cost a fortuneThere are lots to be found in brocantes and vide greniers. Looking forward to your French week Shannon. I am lucky in that very week is French week😊🇫🇷

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