Le chat noir

The black cat.

Le Chat Noir was a popular Parisian cabaret frequented by many famous artists in the late 1800s, the period known as La Belle Époque.

We know the cat in the poster is male by the spelling of the word chat. A female kitty would be la chatte. A black female cat = la chatte noire.

In french, adjectives usually follow nouns. So the literal translation here is “the cat black.”

There are exceptions. For example, “the small cat” would be le petit chat, or la petite chatte.

Why? Are there rules or clues for knowing when to put the noun first?

Je ne sais pas. I don’t know!

Only a few adjectives precede nouns: good and bad, big and small, young and old. A couple of others. The list is relatively short, so we can memorize it. The rest all come after the noun, so when in doubt, remember “the cat black.”

Merci, chat noir!


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