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Get Fooled the Parisian Way

Blog (EN)

Get Fooled the Parisian Way

Diana Rovanio

Since it's Thursday and we are almost at the end of April,  I figured it will be nice to do a TBT!  

What happened during April Fool's day in Paris?  Well, one of the heartwarming pranks that happened was actually done by the Parisian transport company (RATP). April Fool's day in France is called Poisson d'Avril ( literal translation would be the April fish), There were many versions of how this name came about, some said it started in the 16th century where it is common to send food as gifts and since this date falls at  the end of lent period when Christians were forbidden to eat meat, as a jest some people would send false fish as a gift, some said that it was caused by the changes made in terms of the decision on the date of new year, etc.  My personal theory, it is called the April's fish because someone who would get prank will have a dumbfounded expression just like a fish ;).

The RATP did a series of witty wordplay on 13 metro stations in Paris.

Line 3 // Quatre Septembre | Premier Avril: In celebration in April Fool's day 4th of September becomes 1st of April, I was well surprised the morning headed to work as this was actually the métro station that I got out from to reach my office, a great way to start the day right? ;)

© ratp

Line 3 // Parmentier | Pomme de Terre > Apparently this was taken from Antoine-Augustin Parmentier that was famous as the vocal promoter of Pomme de Terre (potatoes) as a source of food in France and throughout Europe.* I personally thought that they should have put Hachis on the other side as Hachis Parmentier (a dish made with mashed, baked potato, combined with diced meat and sauce lyonnaise and served in the potato shells) is my first association every time I think of the word Parmentier. Until this day if you visit the tomb of Parmentier you will see potatoes put by visitors to celebrate his love of potato

© ratp

The tomb of Parmentier

Hachis Parmentier © Radvaner

Hachis Parmentier © Radvaner

Line 2 // Anvers | upside down Anvers: Nope it was not a mistake, The name of the Belgian town Antwerp (Anvers in French) rhymes with the word à l'envers (upside down) in French.

© ratp

Line 6 // Saint-Jacques | Coquille: Ahh, the famous coquille Saint-Jacques. I actually found out about this scallop when I arrived in France, as it is not very common in Indonesia. Coquille means shell or in this case scallop shell. This is a reference to support the fishing sector in France.

© ratp

© Coté Maison

© Elle France

Line 2 // Monceau | Ma Pelle: To salute their engineers, the Monceau station subtitle was "Ma pelle" (my shovel). This comes from the fact that since it was launched in 1902 it is, to this day, it's the only station in Paris of which the tunnel was completely dug by shovel. 


Shovel away boys! ©

Line 7 // Cadet | Rousselle: In looking up the meanings of each sign, I learned that Cadet Rouselle is a cute song that helps introduce little children to counting, I think the Indonesian equivalent to this song is "Balonku Ada Lima" (and now i have both songs in my head playing in loop).

RER A // Joinville | Joinville-le-Pont -> Joinville-le-Pont Pon ! Pon ! => 2017 will mark the 100th year of the birth of Bourvil
a celebrated French actor and singer, Joinville le Pont pon! pon! was one of his famous songs from the year 1951.

© ratp

© ratp

Sing your heart out girls!   - Edith Piaf © Jean Philippe Charbonnier, 1962

Line 4 // Château d’Eau | Château de sable: Château d’Eau (Water Castle) transforms into Château de sable (sand castle), referring to the Paris Plage event that will be coming soon in the summer. Each summer the banks of Seine river in Paris are transformed into a temporary beach with sand, umbrellas and tourist, not forgetting the rare species of Parisian & Parisian hipsters who were not able to escape the city as any (supposedly) true Parisian would (Summertime is the migration time for parisians to spread their Parisian-ism in other parts of France, Europe or the world).

 © Sharat Ganapati via timeout

© ratp

Line 7 // Crimée | Châtiment  Okay I have to admit here that at first, I have mistaken this word Châtiment (punishment) with Chatouiller ( Tickle) I thought oh how funny! Tickling Crime (Crimée= Crime, Châtiment= Tickles) Crime of tickling? Ticklish Crime? and it didn't help that I did not realize the literature reference of the book Crime et Châtiment (Crime and Punishment) by  Fiodor DostoïevskiSo there I was happily thinking that it was ticklish crime until I found out the real reference. Although did you know that there is an interrogation + torture technique called the Tickle Torture that was widely used, and apparently in the Han Dynasty it was even used on nobility since it left no marks and a victim could recover relatively easily and quickly.* I guess I was not so wrong after all ;)

© boldstatements via shopify

Line 11 // Télégraphe | #Tweet :  yes my friends, we've come a long way from telegraph to tweeting. So little words, so much to say.

© ratp

Line 2 // Alexandre Dumas | Les Trois Mousquetaires: The famous literary author and his famous musketeers.

© ratp

© Maurice Leloir

Ready, set , climb! © Philipp Klinger via

© ratp

Ready to attack those slopes?

Ready to attack those slopes?

Line 11 // Pyrénées | Alpes : If Americans have "sex and the city", for one day Paris has "mountains in the city". But first let's start with The Alpes. The Alpes is the beautiful range of Pyrénées mountains which sandwiched the country Andorra ( as one part is claimed by France and the other by Spain). The famous tour de France is also held here. It is also the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe. Not to mention the hot spot for alpine skiing and mountaineering. This sexy mountain apparently was also a hub of crazy things and findings such as a mummified man, determined to be 5,000 years old, the Celtic La Tène culture (Thousands of objects had been deposited in the lake, as was discovered after the water level dropped in 1857 on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland).  Hannibal the greatest military strategists in history and one of the greatest generals of antiquity was known to crossed the Alps with a herd of elephants. His fan Napoleon crossed one of the mountains passes with an army of 40,000 in 1800. In World War II, Adolf Hitler kept a base of operation in the Bavarian Alps throughout the war.*

In Paris, we use our city mountaineering skills to slalom our way towards getting in and out of the metro, We also strategize which end of the train will bring us closer to our exit. Using our inner compass we try to find our way out of the station (in the hopes that we chose the right exit and NOT the random furthest one that will put you on a 15 minutes detour slaloming your way back to where you began), to then use our city stair climbing prowess to reach the dizzying heights of the exit sign at the end of the long tunnel.


Line 3 // Opéra | Apéro: For me this was the best one, it's a reference to Hemingway's famous book A Moveable Feast, Paris has always and will always be A Moveable Feast. It also serves to remind us, especially through these dark past months that joy in Paris is alive, Opéra transforms to Apéro! #Parisestunefête / #Parisisaparty

© ratp

© flickr

Hope you enjoyed the little fun facts about the Parisian métro stops on April's fool day.  You could also see both sides of the métro signs on the ratp website ;). I would also love to know which one is your favorite métro twist! 'til next post!


Bisous! Cium sayang! Kiss!

Words by Diana Rovanio


Fish cover illustration © marion barraud via pinterest