There are nearly 35,000 communes in France, including in overseas territories, with a huge wealth of names and etymologies.
To celebrate this diversity, we map out some of our favourite commune names, ranging from the absurd to the sweet to the rude. Our new map, updated July 14, 2022, also includes new suggestions from readers.
Below the map we explain the double meaning behind the names.
If you know of any other funny-sounding communes that you think should make it onto our list, write in to us at email@example.com.
And if you have taken a picture next to any funny-sounding French town road signs send it in and we will publish the best ones (editor’s choice), sending the winners a Connexion puzzle book.
A simple apostrophe after the ‘L’ would give a whole new meaning to this commune name.
Sounds a lot like ‘très con’, meaning ‘very stupid’.
As a family paper we prefer not to translate this one, but you get the idea.
Sounds like the famous French ‘bisou’, a way of greeting someone with a kiss.
Broken up into two words it sounds a lot like ‘mes seins’, meaning ‘my breasts’
It sounds like ‘pas bu’, meaning ‘haven’t drunk (alcohol).
‘Est-ce que tu es bourré, toi?’ (Are you drunk?)
‘Moi, non, j’ai pas bu.’ (No, I haven’t been drinking)
Bourré (Loir-et-Cher) – This commune was absorbed into the new commune of Montrichard Val de Cher in 2016 but the village remains
Sticking to the alcohol theme, ‘bourré’ is a common way to say ‘drunk’.
Translates as ‘naked bodies’
This sounds a lot like a French person saying ‘yeah’ in a very indifferent way
Sounds like ‘marrant’, meaning funny.
Folles is the feminine plural form of the word ‘fou’, meaning crazy.
This word either means body hair (not the hair on your head) or can describe an animal’s fur. The expression ‘à poil’ means naked, so if you say that you are going to Poil in French it sounds like you are saying that you are going naked.
A mariole is a person who is clownish. The expression ‘faire le mariole’ means to play the clown.
This word either describes a female cat or something much ruder that we would rather not translate here.
A bidon is either a fuel container (like a jerry can) or is a slang way to describe your stomach. It is also commonly used in the phrase ‘c’est du bidon’, meaning ‘it’s not true’, or ‘that’s a load of rubbish’.
Le Saix (Hautes-Alpes)
The people of this commune are known as les saixois
The word ‘dur’ means hard and the word anus means…well, anus.
Pronounced out loud this commune name sounds a lot like you are saying ‘my ass’ in French
The locals were very inspired by sex education classes at school
The French word ‘arnaque’ means ‘scam’, so maybe keep an eye on your valuables when visiting this commune!
Readers' suggested additions
Sounds like ‘scam the post office’
Sounds like…well, you get the idea.
In French this sounds like ‘choose the king’, 'choisis le roi'.
Herpes was later joined with the parish of Courbillac to create a common commune Courbillac. I wonder why they went with that name? The Herpes road signs are still standing if you want to visit.
This sounds like the word ‘largesse’, meaning to generously give money or gifts. It also, admittedly, sounds a little bit like a description of someone with a big bottom.
Pronounced in the French way the ‘i’ sound becomes an English ‘ee’ sound…Yeah.
Plurien (Côtes d'Armor)
The village of Plurien, with a population of less than 2,000 is located in a remote corner of Brittany. Ironic, then, that its name sounds a lot like ‘plus rien’, meaning ‘nothing left’.
Scillé (Deux-Sèvres) – not on our map
Ignore us, we are just being silly.
To our ears, this either sounds like a piece of meat is falling (tomber) or a monument dedicated to honouring deceased pieces of beef, as in une tombe de bœuf.
Vatan (Indre) – not on the map, as didn't fit
Sounds like the French phrase va t’en, meaning ‘go away’
Whoever named this place did not hold much hopes of it becoming a popular destination
Sounds like ‘wine’ + ‘sober’. Who are these villagers trying to kid?
Berck sounds exactly like 'Berk!' which means 'Yuck!' in French.
The above map is part of our ongoing series showcasing different elements of French society and culture through maps.
If you have any suggestions for topics you would like us to cover or think we should add anything to our previous articles, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.