I love the funny details on some of the façades in Paris. Above the door at 8 rue de Valois, there’s a cow dressed in a bonnet. It suddenly disappeared a few months ago when the little shop beneath was sold and the place next door turned into a function room. I was most upset but I saw a man one day looking as though he might know something and he told me the panel had been taken down to be restored. A couple of weeks ago, it reappeared, painted a dark maroon.
Now why would a cow be dressed in a bonnet? Ever heard of Boeuf à la mode? Well, it used to be the name of a restaurant, founded in 1792 by two brothers from Marseilles and taken over by Tissot, a leading Jacobin during the Directoire period, who turned it into a much classier place. Its new sign was a cow dressed as a « belle ». Under the Restauration (1814-1830), Tissot dressed it in the latest fashion, « à la mode », with a shawl and a stringed bonnet. There was also a statue inside the restaurant that was regularly brought up to date. The restaurant finally closed in 1936.
More information and pictures on http://parissecretetinsolite.unblog.fr/2011/01/25/lenseigne-du-boeuf-a-la-mode-n8-rue-de-valois-tout-le-monde-sen-fout/