06 August 2009

That French Font

"You know that hotel bar in the 6th in Paris we went to--the one with the grand piano and the killer mojitos?" asked Maman the other day (actually, she didn't say "killer mojitos" because she's too much of a wine-a-holic to bother with cocktails). I didn't know. "The one with that French font on its sign and on the menu?" Ah ha, now you're talking.

It's actually ridiculous that I should be able to identify a bar on the basis of the font used on its sign but I knew exactly which one she meant. It was called Café Laurent at the Hotel d'Aubusson although I only know this because I remember that I have a photo of the brother, Maman, the killer mojito and me sitting in said café and that at the time, I remembered to geotag the photo on Flickr. I am glad to report that even the Café Laurent website uses the same font for the title.

It's even more ridiculous given that the font in question is so memorable for me given that it is used throughout France in cafés, bars, newspapers and probably even Metro tickets. I came across it on Word last week; creatively, it's called "French Script." This is something of a chicken-and-egg situation: do all the cafés and small businesses who create signs and documents using desktop publishing software use "French Script" because it is how people expect French writing to look like and because it is the very epitome of Frenchness, or is "French Script" so named because everyone in France does actually write like that? (Actually, this is quite plausible given that in France, your handwriting must conform to various standards, which is why most French people do actually write the same.)

Most importantly, with hindsight, I remember that the mojito was only killer in that it was incredibly potent. As the photo shows, though, the limes were rather anaemic and I have definitely had better cocktails--plenty of rum is not my only mojito requirement (soda is also useful and--as I discovered to my cost last Christmas in Cannes--surprisingly hard to obtain en France).

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