for the love of lettering

A roundup of some of the fabulous signs and storefronts I’ve wandered past in my strolls around Paris. IMG_1378

I would be willing to foot this store’s electricity bill and even throw in some replacement light bulbs if it meant I could see this sign in all its lit-up splendor.


My second sighting of a hair salon named after Obama. (First was in Benin.)


This sign is cool and also reminds me of the Godard movie, making it seem even cooler.IMG_2275

I just realized I’ve got three hair salons in a row. This one is housed in an old Art Deco dairy shop. The inside is super fabulous as well. IMG_1274

It’s a shame that I passed this bakery at a time of day when the brilliance of the gold-leaf artwork and lettering couldn’t be fully captured. It’s also a shame that it was closed for the summer holidays, as a peak through the windows revealed an interior seemingly unchanged since the Belle Epoque – pastel scenes painted on the molded ceilings, intricate tile on the floors, and lots of other beautiful details.


More Art Deco magnificence. IMG_1340

More neon / hair salon magnificence. IMG_8521

Still more Art Deco magnificence.IMG_0349

And the one that takes the cake. I know it’s sort of cheating, since this building’s star power comes from way more than the lettering. And it’s not even a storefront, it’s a very famous theatre. I tried to get inside but couldn’t get past the not-very-ornate lobby since it was too early in the day. I’ll just have to come back some time. Maybe I’ll even see a show!

Dakar signage

A small sampling of signs I have been amused by lately:

It took me six months to notice the one above, across the street from my house, but now I can’t stop seeing “beware of horse-drawn cart” signs everywhere. Which makes sense, since horse-drawn carts are ubiquitous in Dakar, including on all the main roads. As well as in front of my house:

Not only do I love seeing the horses and whatever they’re carrying, but I also love hearing their peaceful hoof sounds. It’s like a little bit of the country in the city.

When I saw Orange (a French telecom company)’s sign, which says, “Recharge and win 1 sheep per day,” I thought perhaps “mouton” (sheep) in French was similar to “buck” (a kind of deer) in American English – i.e. a dollar (or in this case a CFA). But I wasn’t sure, because everyone seems to own a sheep or two around here and I had never heard of “mouton” being used as slang before. Then Tabaski aka Eid al-Adha came and went and the mystery was solved. Muslims slaughter sheep for the holiday meal and it had been a pre-Tabaski sheep giveaway… tied to recharging your cell phone. If that isn’t old world meets new world I don’t know what is.

This one just cracks me up. It translates literally to, “You do not have priority.” I suppose it is a “yield” sign, although before this I had only ever seen ones that firmly but politely say, “Cédez le passage.” This one had so much extra attitude that I found myself personifying it sort of like this:

And with that, enjoy your weekends and rest assured that you DO have priority, so go out and do something nice for yourself.