Thanks to Céline of Naked Translations, I’ve learned a new French expression: découvrir le pot aux roses, which she says means ‘to find out what’s going on’ and my Dictionary of Modern Colloquial French by René James Hérail and Edwin A. Lovatt defines as ‘to stumble on a bit of scandal.’ It’s apparently often misunderstood as “poteau rose,” so Chris Waigl of serendipity is using poteaux roses as a French equivalent of “eggcorns” (first sighted here) for the purposes of her eggcorn database. (If any of my Russian readers know of a Russian word or phrase that’s sometimes replaced by a semantically clearer, though historically incorrect, version, like “eggcorn” for acorn or “poteau rose” for pot aux roses, please mention it in the comments.)
The interesting thing about découvrir le pot aux roses is that it’s not at all clear how the expression came about. For one thing, roses are not grown in pots, and there is no such thing as a pot aux roses in other contexts (hence the eggcorn potential). One theory is that the reference was originally to rose in the sense of ‘rouge,’ which makes perfect sense of the expression, since it would mean “discovering the secret of what you thought had been a woman’s natural beauty”; alas, as Francparler.com points out, the expression has always had roses, plural, so that won’t wash. There’s further discussion at the entry in the dictionary at the excellent Langue française site (“Dépannage en français, difficultés, (bon) usage, syntaxe, orthographe, vocabulaire, étymologie, débats et dossiers thématiques”—I love their epigraph « C’est quand les accents graves tournent à l’aigu que les sourcils sont en accent circonflexe. »).
The Hérail-Lovatt book, by the way, says “Few expressions containing the word pot have literal meanings. Most, like se manier le pot: to ‘put one’s skates on’, to hurry up and en avoir plein le pot: to be fed-up, are figurative derivations.” The listed meanings are ‘arse, bum, behind’; ‘luck, good fortune’; ‘drink, alcoholic beverage’; and ‘pot, kitty, pool of money staked at cards’; these are followed by phrases like faire son pot ‘to make one’s pile, amass a tidy sum of money,’ pot de colle ‘limpet-bore, tenacious button-holer,’ and tourner autour du pot ‘to beat about the bush, to tackle a problem or a situation in a dilly-dally manner’; the last of these is découvrir le pot aux roses, followed by the useful note “Because of a possible hiatus, the ‘t’ in pot is pronounced as a liaison in colloquial contexts.” An exemplary book (note that most definitions include both a colloquial equivalent and a literal explanation), which any reader of French literature (not to mention l’internet!) should have at hand.