What do chickens and cops have in common? Well, if you were in France this summer, you may have wondered at the site of a policeman on a tractor in an ad for chickens. In French, one slang word for cop is poulet, which means chicken. It does have somewhat negative connotations, though, so the ad did not sit well with police unions.
Poulet meaning cop comes from the fact that in 1871, the Paris police took over some barracks on the Ile de la Cité that had been built on what was formerly the capital’s chicken market. It didn’t take long for the name to stick. It later took on negative connotations in the 1950s thanks to the Mike the headless chicken (really), according to an article on the site Rue 89.
So, why am I telling you this? I thought it was a fun sideline story about one of the key settings in The 7th Woman by Frédérique Molay. Here’s an excerpt that talks about about what is no longer a chicken market at all:
“Nico took the Boulevard Saint Michel to the Seine and then followed the river toward the Pont Neuf, which he crossed to reach the Île de la Cité. Dating from 1891, 36 Quai des Orfèvres stood with the Palais de Justice, which housed the courts, and was right next to the government administrative offices at the Préfecture de Police, the Hôtel Dieu Hospital and Notre Dame Cathedral. It had always served as headquarters for France’s elite police forces. Nico Sirsky was a member of the country’s top crime fighters, and he was proud of it. What more could he aspire to?”