Rue the day

by Neil Thomas
January 17th, 2012

News is in that fast food/sandwich chain Pret A Manager has opened in Paris. Other attempts by Marks and Spencer to take sandwiches and other British fare to the French ended badly, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this new venture.

It has got off to a bad start, with Rue 89, an influential news website being reported in The Times as wondering ‘whether the French could be persuaded to give up their baguettes for triangular whole-grain bread sold by a misspelt brand – Pret should have a circumflex accent on the ‘e’ and the A takes a grave.’

It made be wonder if the shoe and fashion retailers Pied a Terre could cause confusion in France – very perplexing for those looking for an apartment and ending up living in a shoe! Or indeed, if the Michelin starred restaurant, Pied à Terre, from London, opened a branch in Paris, would the citizens think it specialised in places to live or in serving an earthy portion of pig’s trotters.

More fun could be had with the lingerie firm Agent Provocateur where the French might think it was a business carrying out undercover work in undergarments – perhaps a new commercial venture for Dominique Strauss Kahn. Maybe Après Ski could be a launched as company selling yogurt or Aide-de-Camp as a shop selling transvestite gear.

I am even toying with the idea of going into waste management in France but I can’t quite think whether to call my new venture À la Carte or Cul-de-Sac.

The peril of using a French phrase commonly used in English to name your shop or business becomes more and more obvious doesn’t it? But I still think my new name for a Member’s club for French bankers will be a triumph: The Grand Prix.

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