Montrer patte blanche

imageSince the horrific events of November 13, I keep hearing the expression montrer patte blanche (mohn-tray pat blahnsh), which literally means “to show white paw.” Figuratively, it means to identify yourself, often by presenting proof through documents. In the new Paris, people are be asked to justify their right to be somewhere and to produce ID. I realize that I’ll have to remember to carry documents the next time I’m there.

imageThe phrase comes from a fable by Jean de la Fontaine, Le loup, la chèvre, et le chevreau (The Wolf, the Goat, and the Kid) that was published in 1668. In the story, a kid is saved from a terrible fate by demanding proof of identity before opening the door. (Here’s an animated version.) I hope that the demande “Montrez-moi patte blanche” will protect Paris just as effectively as it saved the kid.


Selected Fables of Jean de la Fontaine: Dual Language Edition

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
This entry was posted in Events, French Vocabulary, Idioms, Literature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Montrer patte blanche

  1. rklowrie says:

    Thank you for the alert. I will be in Paris next month for a visit and typically I just carry a copy of my passport while out and about . Should I carry my actual passport with me instead?

    • That’s an excellent question to which I do not have a definitive answer. As a practical matter, I imagine that a legible photocopy with a photo that looks like the bearer will suffice. Like you, I don’t like to carry my original passport with me. If you get an official ruling on this during your trip, could you let me know?

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