Read the Signs: Rue des Deux-Boules in Paris
This tiny street runs parallel to rue de Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The name translates as ‘Two Balls Street’. (Stop sniggering.)
The origin of the denomination remains unclear. Some say there used to be a play area here where locals gathered to play boules and the name morphed from rue des Boules to the present variation, but Gustave Pessard in his New Historical Dictionary of Paris (1904) offers an alternative story.
Pessard says that in the 12th century the street was known as rue Guillaume Porée. Later it was called rue Mauconseil, or rue Male-Parole, because of the naughty language that could be heard there. The street was officially still rue Porée, but it slowly became known as Les Deux Boules, because of a sign on a shop called Aux Deux Boules.
Whatever the case, one interesting detail here is that the 17th-century sundial in the courtyard of the mansion built for the Duke of Orléans still survives. It no longer catches the morning sun because of a tall building across the street, but still reliably tells the time in the afternoon.
From France Today magazine
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