There is no W in Paris

In October of last year, we traveled to our favorite city in all the world, Paris. As we usually do when we plan a trip, we chose a theme for our visit (well, two themes, actually): food and photography. Suffice it to say, we learned a wonderful chicken recipe from an excellent cooking school and it has become a staple of our evening meal planning. And, yes, you can buy pig’s caul locally, in our case, at The Meat House. But enough of food for now …

As amateur photographers, we always see room for improvement. We signed up for two classes in Paris with an excellent photography school, for night-time shooting and for street photography in the Marais. Perhaps the results will be the subject of a future blog post.

In any event, we thought that we could use our photography to create unique Christmas presents for our family. A recent fad that I have seen is to create personalized framed names or quotes using photographs of letters from signs or photographs of objects that look like letters. How hard could it be to “collect” photos of letters from Parisian signs? We decided to create a Parisian alphabet from which we could create any personalized gift we needed. The rules were simple:

  1. The letter must be contained in a French word that is publicly displayed in a large font
  2. The letter might be visualized within some physical object that is in public view

We would be the final arbiters of whether the actual letter or the physical substitute would be used in producing the actual gift.

Eiffel_TowerExcept that how can anybody use anything but the Eiffel tower for “A”?

Since we carried a camera with us everywhere, it was easy enough to snap any sign that could result in just the letters we needed. One Rmorning, leaving our apartment, we came across the letter “R” on Rue Cler, being towed behind a bicycle. We never discovered why R was there or what it meant. Wouldn’t that be a great solution to finding all the letters? Most of the letters we found the hard way; but really, it was great fun looking!

We kept a list of letters as we found them, to be sure we had the complete alphabet. What we discovered was that some letters were harder than others to find.  The letter that was impossible to find in a French word was “W.” We did find it, but it was in the name of an English company. That didn’t meet the rules. So our eventual solution, in creating Christmas gifts, was to use an upside-down M as a W.  (The gift recipient with the faux W didn’t even realize the trick until we pointed it out.)

So, the next time you are in Paris, see if you can find the elusive W!