Paris: They came, they saw, they got lost

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The Independent Online

Tourists are having more trouble than they might finding their way around Paris this summer. In the capital's bustling Latin Quarter, an unidentified prankster has been pasting convincing translations over street signs in, rather appropriately, Latin.

Translations have included "Vicus Scholarium" for the Rue des Ecoles (CollegeStreet) and "Vicus Sancti Hilarii" for the Rue des Carmes (Carmelite Street).

Others are more difficult to understand, however, and many tourists have been left perplexed. "It's puzzling for them," a local tobacconist explained. "They haven't stopped coming over here to ask the way."

The local council is trying to remove the posters, which have fooled locals as well, but it is no easy task according to Patrick Albert of the street maintenance department. "The adhesive is of a very high quality and sometimes the posters are stuck six metres high. It's bound to take some time with our spatulas and stepladders."

The Latin Quarter originally took its name from university students who used Latin as their spoken language. In one breakaway church in the area - St Nicholas-du-Chardonnet, traditionalist Catholics are still able to hear mass in Latin. One theory is that the spoof street signs have been put up by militant Latinists from this church.

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