Saturday was poisson d’Avril day in France and plenty of April Fool’s ‘fake news’ stories had readers doing a double take - including, we admit it, our own tale about the Académie Française wanting to ban the use of the word Brexit.
On our Facebook page, one suspicious sleuth commented on the Brexit story: “I smell a poisson”, while many others suggested amusing alternative words for the French to use when describing Britain’s departure from the EU.
The French also enjoy a good April Fool and some practical jokes were played across public services and the media.
The RATP public transport network renamed some Paris metro stations using wordplays and puns, such as Gentilly becoming “De la Gentilly sur les fraises?” – a play on “Some Chantilly sur les fraises?” (“Some Chantilly on your strawberries?”).
The signs for Bastille station read “Une Bastille pour la gorge?’, a play on “Une pastille pour la gorge?” – “A lozenge for your throat?”.
Meanwhile, Jaurès became “Si j’aurais su, Jaurès pas venu” which means “If I had known I never would have come” and plays on the word Jaurès sounding like ’j’aurais’.
The Twitter hashtag #Stationdavril was widely used and ensured some good publicity for the network.
FranceInfo news outlet ran an elaborate hoax how about people will literally ‘vote with their stomachs’ thanks to “billions of bacteria whose influence on our behaviour, our decision-making and our opinions is confirmed through scientific studies”. One ‘researcher’ said of the influence that gut bacteria have on our political persuasion: "The ideas expressed by some politicians are clearly a reflection of their fecal microbiota."
Nice Matin reported that French astronaut Thomas Pesquet had been summoned by police after tweeting a photograph of a secret naval base in Toulon – thereby threatening national security. Mr Pesquet has wowed Twitter with his photos from space since he joined the International Space Station last November.
Politicians joined the fun too – far-left Presidential candidate Philippe Poutou (from anti-capitalist party NPA) said on Facebook that he was withdrawing his candidacy to support Emmanuel Macron, the former Socialist minister and leader of the Centrist independent party En Marche! Among his reasons: “Macron needs a little more media coverage, and appearing in the weekly NPA newsletter might redress the balance”.
But perhaps the most horrifying story for any French person was in Var Matin. It reported that the EU would be banning boules in public places from June, unless there are two armed policemen present, because it is too dangerous. Surely that is taking poisson d’avril a little too far?