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French Life: Road signs in France

 Road signs France

One of the things that I notice in France that is really different from anywhere I’ve lived previously is street signs or road signs.

In France road signs seem to be far more idiosyncratic and range from the artistic to the eccentric to the downright quirky. The one above – “Rue Francis Tattegrain” is in the seaside town of Berck-sur-Mer on the Opal Coast. It has that beautiful French blue colour, faded over time but a reminder of the great painter Tattegrain, some of whose works can be seen in the town’s museum.

Road Signs France

In some towns and cities plans have been underway for decades now to standardise French road signs but it’s a slow process so thankfully many of the individual styles of old road signs or those particular to an area are still easily found. The one above is in Montreuil-sur-Mer in the north of France and I love how the new road sign still carries the name of the old road from much older times – as if someone may arrive and be confused by the name change! I see this a lot in France ancient road names shown under the new “modern” names – many of which have been in place for decades if not centuries!

French road signs

Even the standardised new signs are actually quite attractive – particularly the blue and white enamel signs that are so common in Paris. The one above is “The Road of the Cat who Fishes” – France is full of roads with strange names reflecting an event that happened – or didn’t but has become a legend, a memory that is passed down from generation to generation.

French road signs

I’d hate to see the old road signs being replaced by something which is dull and without a personality. The one above is from Angoulême, the town which hosts the world’s biggest comic book festival. The Festival International de la Bande Desinée takes place once a year, but visiting here, you never forget it since the street signs all look like comic book speech bubbles although they are not generally as big as this!

Every now and again old road signs come up at brocantes and they’re always snapped up by both visitors to France and locals so it looks like I’m not alone in my road sign romance!

A bientôt



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