Most of us live in a town or village with a nice, normal, name like Richmond or Valley View but if you live in France, this may not be the case. It seems that les Français have a penchant for naming their towns after body parts, insults, and acts of a quite personal nature. In this slightly risqué list, WOS salutes the creative and très drôle place names of France.
Known for the limestone from which the famous chateaux of the Loire valley are built, Bourré is a shortened form of Bourg du Roi or King’s Village. However, no French speaker would ever make that association: ‘Il était complètement bourré’ loosely translates to ‘he’s completely plastered!’ or ‘that wanker’s pissed as a newt,’ if you happen to speak the Queen’s English.
The full name of this extremely safety conscious village is Condom-en-Armagnac, which as Armagnac is a particularly good brandy, makes quite a winning combination for a night out!
This town was nicknamed ‘French Letter’ by WWII soldiers thanks to its population of beautiful and willing ladies, and the townspeople felt the name fit quite snugly and made them feel protected. As worldwide concern over safe relations grew in the 1980’s, they updated to the more serious medical terminology, hence the name: Condom. Did you believe us? We just couldn’t resist that story! Unfortunately, it’s a load of lamb’s intestines. In reality, the town of Condom has no relationship to the English term for a popular contraceptive, although it definitely is famous for Armagnac brandy.
Proper French pronunciation is essential here. Montcuq is spoken aloud as mon cou, which is indistinguishable from how you say the words ‘mon cul’ – a popular expletive that directly translates as ‘my ass!’ In fact, ‘cul’ is one of the most useful slang terms to learn if you’re speaking real French. Most Americans don’t have a clue that you’re as likely to hear a French-speaker say ‘Sacre bleu!’ as you are to hear someone swear ‘Fiddlesticks’ in the USA. So next time a suave monsieur asks you ‘Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?’ be sure to answer ‘Et mon cul, c’est du poulet?’ and he’ll get the message!
This town’s name translates literally as ‘two penises.’ The town’s male inhabitants may claim that this is due to a fortunate deformity unique to men born and bred in the area… but we can’t find anyone willing to confirm this as fact, despite intensive CIA surveillance of photos emailed by Deux-Verges inhabitants. Still, the town sign is a popular tourist snapshot, and the ‘I (heart) Deux-Verges’ bumper sticker a must-buy souvenir.
The French refusal to ever pronounce an s means the perfectly innocent name of Trécon is pronounced the same as ‘très con’ or ‘very stupid.’ Trécon is a proud member of the ‘French association for regions with absurd and lyrical names’.
French culture is famously free-spirited when it come to the human form, so a town named ‘Naked Bodies’ seems quite appropriate. The name actually comes from Kornuz, the ancient Breton name of the town, which over time became corrupted into the more flamboyant Corps-Nuds. Although based on the town’s physical location in chilly Brittany, we’re pretty sure the inhabitants prefer to keep their clothes on.
Again a town that suffers from pronunciation. Did no one in France ever say a name out-loud before selecting it? Bèze, pronounced beZ with a silent last e, is so close to ‘baise’, which is slang for the act of sexual intercourse. Ahem, you know… the “f” word. The English-speaking world is much more taken with the Austrian town of a similar name, mentioned in our past post A Venerable Ancestral Home but the French-speakers out there definitely get the joke.
Oh, how we wish we could report that this was a buxom and booming town, but Monteton is a tiny little nipple perched on a rounded hillock in southwest France. Well, the French do like their women waif-like. Are we completely confusing you? Teton is a vulgar French word for the female breast. Get it now? Because everything is bigger in America, the mountain there is, of course, a Grand Teton. Although why each country only as one teton, we have no idea, as nipples generally come in pairs. By the way, if travelling from Montcuq to Monteton, lookout for the small hummock of Poil!
On the French-German border, this historic town is known for its fortified citadel, site of many Bitche battles. The town’s coat of arms shows a double-headed, forked tongued snake, which is surprisingly fitting to its name! Bitche is not a popular tourist destination, perhaps because the Bitche inhabitants tend to be a little standoffish and unwelcoming? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Ah, the joys of France! What other country could have two towns named after the lower rear of the human anatomy? Our tour of faux-pas French place names has taken us through almost the entire Corps-Nuds, from Montcuq and Anus, past Deux-Verges and up to Monteton, and we never even made it to Brest, Pussy, or Le Tampon! We would like to send a big merci to la belle France for these very unusual, occasionally obscene, but most definitely amusing town names.