There are nearly 35,000 communes in France, including in the overseas territories, with an immense wealth of names and etymologies.
To celebrate this diversity, we’re mapping out some of our favorite township names, ranging from silly to sweet to rude. Our new map, updated July 14, 2022, also includes new reader suggestions.
Read more: Gentille Alouette: the true meaning of the not-so-nice French children’s song
Below the map we explain the double meaning behind the names.
If you know of any other fun towns you think should be on our list, email us at [email protected]
And if you took a photo next to some fun-sounding French road signs, submit it and we’ll post the best ones (Editor’s Choice), sending the winners a Report puzzle book.
A simple apostrophe after the ‘L’ would give a whole new meaning to this town name.
It looks a lot like ‘very stupid‘, meaning ‘very stupid’.
As a family diary, we prefer not to translate this one, but you get the idea.
Sounds like the famous French ‘kisses‘, a way to greet someone with a kiss.
Broken down into two words, it sounds a lot like ‘my breasts‘, meaning ‘my breasts’
That resembles ‘not drunk‘, which means ‘did not drink (alcohol).
‘Are you drunk?‘ (Are you drunk?)
‘Me, no, I haven’t been drinking.’ (No, I haven’t been drinking)
Bourré (Loir-et-Cher) – This town was absorbed by the new town of Montrichard Val de Cher in 2016 but the village remains
Sticking to the alcohol theme, ‘drunk” is a common way of saying “drunk”.
Translates to “naked bodies”
It sounds a lot like a Frenchman saying “yes” in a very indifferent way
Looks like ‘funny‘, which means funny.
Folles is the feminine plural form of the word ‘mad‘, which means crazy.
This word either means body hair (not the hair on your head) or can describe an animal’s fur. The phrase ‘naked‘ means naked, so if you say you’re going Poil in French, it sounds like you’re saying you’re going naked.
A Mario is a clownish person. The phrase ‘do the mariole‘ means to play clown.
This word describes either a pussy or something much grosser that we would prefer not to translate here.
A canister is either a fuel canister (like a jerrycan) or a slang way of describing your stomach. It is also commonly used in the expression ‘it’s bullshit‘, meaning ‘it’s not true’, or ‘it’s a pile of garbage’.
The Saix (Hautes-Alpes)
The inhabitants of this commune are known as the saixois
Word ‘during‘ means hard and the word anus means…well, anus.
Pronounced out loud, this town name sounds a lot like what you say “my ass” in French
Locals were very inspired by school sex education classes
The French word ‘arnaque’ means ‘scam’, so maybe keep an eye out for your valuables when visiting this town!
Additions Suggested by Readers
Sounds like “mail scam”
Looks like… well, you get the idea.
In French, it sounds like “choose the king”, ‘choose the king’.
It sounds like the word “largesse”, which means to generously give money or gifts. It also admittedly sounds a bit like the description of someone with a big ass.
Pronounced in French, the “i” sound becomes an English “ee” sound… Yeah.
Plurien (Côtes d’Armor)
The village of Plurien, with a population of less than 2,000 is located in a remote corner of Brittany. Ironic, then, that her name sounds a lot like ‘nothing‘, meaning ‘nothing more’.
Scillé (Deux-Sèvres) – not on our map
Ignore us, we’re just stupid.
To our ears, it either sounds like a falling piece of meat (to fall) or a monument dedicated to honoring deceased pieces of beef, as in an ox grave.
Vatan (Indre) – not on the map, because did not correspond
Looks like the French phrase go awaymeaning ‘to leave’
Whoever named this place didn’t have much hope that it would become a popular destination
Sounds like ‘wine’ + ‘sober’. Who are these villagers trying to deceive?
The map above is part of our ongoing series showcasing different elements of French society and culture through maps.
We have also written about local sweets and desserts and local aperitifs.
If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover or think we should add something to our previous articles, let us know at [email protected]
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