Both Treillières in Loire-Atlantique and Emerainville in Seine-et-Marne have allowed their children to name some of their streets – with humorous and imaginative results.
The town hall in Treillières ran a competition in local primary schools asking children to submit street name suggestions for a newly-built ‘eco-neighbourhood’, Vireloup.
“The theme was celebrating the countryside,” said Martine Gibet from the urban services department. “It worked out really well, all the local primary schools took part, and we had all sorts of drawings and suggestions. It was a great experience.”
Now residents in Vireloup can saunter along the Venelle du Chat Souriant (Smiling Cat Alley), the Rue du Buisson Dansant (Dancing Bush Street) and the Chemin de la Musique des Champs (Music of the Fields Lane).
However, there were no rules for the 2011 competition, and some of the names suggested were too long. “We chose the winners according to the drawings, and the number of characters in the name. Also the names couldn’t be too ridiculous, or perjorative,” said Ms Gibet.
Meanwhile in the commune of Emerainville, the children who named the streets of a new town in Marne-la-Vallée are now in their 40s, since the competition was run in 1983.
“There was a lot of construction in a very short period,” explained a town hall official who worked there at the time. “So the mayor decided to give the children the opportunity to name the streets in relation to what they were studying: fairy tales.”
While streets are normally named after writers or historical figures, in Emerainville you can wander along local favourite Rue du Crocodile Rose, the Rue du Crapaud Chanteur (Street of the Singing Toad), through Place du Lapin Vert (Green Rabbit Square) and along Rue de la Rose Bleue (Blue Rose Street).
“People love Rue du Crocodile Rose, they do not want us to rename it!” said the official. “Anyway, we are used to living in streets with names like these now.”
He added: “When you say to the tax people that you live in a street like this, they might think you are having a laugh!”