400 Quirks No.6 ~ "The Irish Pub That Never Was"


"The Irish Pub That Never Was"


It was just recently, in fact, after many years in Paris that I eventually made it to the famous 'museum of the city of Paris', the legendary and rather poetic-sounding Musée Carnavalet.

What a letdown!

Just room after room of bloody boring old chairs and stuff. And there I had been expecting the old town to come to life before my eyes with reconstructions of I don't know what but it certainly wasn't the aforementioned sitting devices surrounded by dusty beds and crusty pictures which were going to get my imaginative juices flowing.

What happened to guillotines and gallows and grisly scenes of gore and gratuitous violence and plague and fires and whatnot? I guess a childhood of visits to the London Dungeon must have spoilt me a bit.

I must admit that I didn't see the whole museum, but what I did see didn't bode well, with one notable exception: the very first room which was dedicated to old shop signs - what a marvelous collection!

"Today we're not in a museum, unless you consider the streets of Paris as such!"

We're not talking about some neon nightmare here; this is old Paris at its purest and finest. The famous Chat Noir cabaret, a hearty negro man/clock, a splendid carved goat in a vineyard from 1745, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today we're not in a museum, unless you consider the streets of Paris as such! We're out in a road with one of the most curious names in the city, rue Tiquetonne in the 2nd arrondissement.

This road used to be called the rue du Petit-Lion-Saint-Sauveur, whatever that means, but because of a (depending on which source you want to believe) baker who lived there around 1400 called Rogier de Quiquetonne. The name was adopted in the 1800s, with the 'Qu' getting transformed into 'T' for sonoric reasons no doubt. It's true it's a particularly pleasant name to trip around the tongue.

So anyway, here we are in rue Tiquetonne, which I forgot to say follows the trace of the outside of the old Philippe-Auguste wall faithfully. And above some sort of boutique for which the road is quite well known called The Cork, in reasonable English for once, is one of the very few shop signs remaining from the middle-ages, and a beautiful one it is too.

The shop, which is well named if not well employed (I'm convinced it should be an Irish pub) is the proud possessor of a lovely ceramic cork tree. Guess why? I mean guess why there is a cork tree on the wall? Because it used to be a cork merchant way back when.

And that's pretty much my story for today! There are others, a handful, as impressive and evocative as this one, but for that you'll have to wait a while, dear reader, until we hit the appropriate quartier and arrondissement, but rest assured, you'll know them all by the time we're finished. I shall leave no sign unphotographed. The fifth arrondissement will have a few, for sure...

For the time being, take a stroll down this charming medieval street and imagine yourself back then when you could pop in for a few corks for your wine bottles if you had a sudden need for them, ahh, those were the days!

By the way, Dumas' D'Artagnan lived here, he of the Three Musketeers fame.

(Pass the rouge, Rogier...)



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© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, requests and comments always welcome! J