Posted by Thomas Crampton
In reporting, I noticed that many of the tobacco shops in Paris are called La Civette. I asked a French colleague and here is her theory.
Disgusting footnote: People smoked musk? Sounds even worse than brown tobacco!!!
A "civette" is a shop selling tobacco and especially cigars. The name comes from a famous, fashionable shop which was on the rue St Honoré in the XIX century. It is not clear why that shop was called La Civette. Either because (one of) the founders' name was Civet, or because in these days snuff tobacco was laced with civette, the secretion produced by the animal of the same name. (I don't know what civette, the animal, is called in English, but civette, the secretion, is musk).