Tuesday, January 06, 2009

License Plates

Having been carefree and car-free in Paris for three years, I now find myself in need of acquiring an automobile in Virginia. Pronto.

And as I drive my rental car (and boy-o-boy, am I getting accustomed to the constant driving), I've noticed that lots of the vehicles here have vanity plates. I used to scoff at the notion of specialized plates, but they are such a way of life here, and there are so many witty ones.

I saw an old Volvo parked in town the other day with the license plate MON CUL.

The car disappeared before I could track down the owner. Damn. What fun! Who IS that person? And did the DMV know what that meant when they issued the plate?

Of course in France there are no specialized vanity plates, but rather the fierce loyalty of one's département indicated by the last two digits of your license plates. I was not alone in heaving sigh of relief when government efforts to eliminate the département from auto license plates was finally shot down.

It's all a matter of identity, I guess.

In France, one can proclaim one's vehicular identity by one's département on the plaques d'immatriculation.

In the US, your license plate can be an extension of your personality -- or maybe your projected persona. I spied one Virginia vanity plate on a spiffy BMW convertible that read UVA MBA. Gotcha. 'Nuff said. There are also lots of down-home and witty examples too numerous to cite. It is definitely a way of life.

So -- should I fork over the extra $10 annually and get a vanity plate that reflects my Francophile persona? As I drive around and wait at traffic lights I daydream about all sorts of catchy bite-sized logos that I could incorporate into a 6-character license plate. Then, after I've come up with the "perfect" plate, I abandon the idea as vain and frivolous. I don't really need to tout myself, right?

And yet, and yet. I am so tempted. Besides, it's fun to check out what they would look like on the DMV website.

Here are a few ideas I've come up with. Maximum 6 characters.


QUOI29 (Inspired by my blogging friend Cécile Quoi de 9)




Okay, folks: any other ideas?

Update: check out Olivier Magny's take on French license plates in Stuff Parisians Like.


Anonymous said...

I guess joyeux anniversaire won't fit on a plate, so I will keep thinking...

Alison said...

I saw an Ohio plate the other day that said MIENNE - which is kind of cute.

What about PARIS 7?

I really like MON CUL though. Too bad it's already taken!

Going Like Sixty said...


But I guess you want some thing Paris-y?

Since there is nothing new under the sun... try here http://www.coolpl8z.com

First one is:

Your word verifier is my Basil Sell Carsonsoma doc: Cowan. I call him Dr. Cowhand. He's young, I'm not.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Merci! Bon anniversaire won't fit, but MERCI would. Today I'll be hunting down a galette des rois crown to wear instead of a birthday party hat. Mebbe at Burger King, as Frog Blog wrote in a recent post.

MON CUL is too wonderful, I agree. I need to come up with a sly one like that.

MON CUL was not too far off from VAGINA. In your honor maybe I'll tame it waay down to BLAGUE. Yes, I'm looking for French words or acronyms. Thanks for the coolpl8z link.

P.S. Please issue spew warnings! I was drinking expensive coffee for my birthday breakfast. Snorted it right out my nose laughing.

Here are other possibles:

(for the car, not being a diva!)

I was also thinking of DINARD, since it's one of my favorite towns. (That, of course, after eliminating other French town names such as Nice, Noisy, Brest, and Condom.)

Jane said...

Hahaha... This post and the comments have me giggling nonstop. Happy birthday!

P.S. I think 7IEME is my favorite so far.

Diary of Why said...

MON CUL reminds me of the "Assman" episode of Seinfeld. :)

And Condom! When I lived in Grenoble my roommates and I had a huge map of France in the hall. We always wanted to take a trek to Condom, solely for the purpose of buying postcards. Sadly we never made it. But man, it still makes me giggle like a twelve year-old.

Unknown said...

I had a francophile vanity plate in California (of course): DNGREUZ (because my website is dangerousjade.com) It's hanging on my wall in Paris.

CHIANTE was taken. ;-) In CA they make you state that it's not obscene, and they check too. I bet a lot of them slip through though.

Let us know what you come up with!

ParisStyleAntiques said...

How about the obvious?



PARDON....don't know how you would get the French accent though..it is the word heard most often and reminds me so much of Paris.


Bonne chance

Rougaroo said...

How about J'y Suis (paint in the apostrophe yourself). Because no matter where you go, there you are.

Unknown said...

I had a francophile vanity plate when I was still in California (of course): DNGREUZ. It's hanging on my wall in Paris. CHIANTE was taken.

Do it!

Eponine said...

How about ON Y VA? I like that one enough to see if it's available in Texas. :-)

I have a French friend who's obsessed with license plates. He carries around a little notebook so he can write down interesting or unusual plate numbers. No, I'm not sure what makes them interesting! One time, he told a man that his license plate number was wrong (apparently the number combination wasn't supposed to be possible) and when the man contacted whoever is in charrge of that sort of thing, they had made a mistake with his number.

Rougaroo said...

I hate this because I can't stop playing around with the letters.

It may be too oblique, but how about MnPays? Josephine Baker's, "J'ai Deux Amours, Mon Pays et Paris."

Meg said...

Oh, I kind of like DNGREUZ myself. The last time my French beau was visiting he was in the passenger seat pointing at me, shrieking "c'est dangereux!" and covering his face as I changed songs on the iPod, texted and weaved through traffic. Puh-lease, I'm sure he's seen worse!

What about:

VITE 2 (like vite!vite! ?)
ALLONS (pity no room for the -y)
or even very simply PARIS - fond sigh implied.

Scads of vanity plates here in Atlanta, too. I enjoy imagining what the owners are like. A red Corvette with the vanity plate 2 FAST turned out to be a blonde, balding, middle-aged gentleman who wore his pants to high. Not much of a surprise.

Steve Scottsdale said...

Some very good suggestions there, but my personal favorite here in Arizona is:


Steve Z.

Eleanor said...

I've got a photocopy of DC plate that's been on my bulletin board for years. It sums things up perfectly for me - 02BNCDG.

Unknown said...

I remember my mother's bumper sticker in the early 60's when Barry "Goldwater" was running for U.S. President. The sticker said "AuH2O." I'd pick something like that for a vanity plate!

Expat 21
"Expat Abroad"

Nina said...

How about adieu?
It the last anyone sees of the car

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Merci - I love all the recommendations! Now in a new twist: I was misinformed - on a plain license plate (sans the pretty cardinal) I can use 7 characters! So now I'm leaning toward


but it does open up a world of possibilities...

ellen said...

Over here in Lynchburg I've got a friend with MA PUCE, and there was a YOUPI (the owner of that car is now back in France) a few years ago. My husband thought up the juvenile UPS GPT...

Heather said...

This morning I saw "Riez oui."

I also wanted to share with you my post about French style & trends...

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