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Jeter Des Fleurs – French Compliments Guide

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Jeter des fleurs à quelqu’un. (“To compliment someone.” Or literally: “To throw flowers at someone.” )

Ever wonder how to compliment a guy in French or give your compliments to the chef after a delicious meal? If you haven’t heard compliments in French before, it may be because the French don’t do this much and tend to keep their praise a bit too much to themselves.

When I traveled to Japan with a bunch of French friends, we were stunned at how people would praise us for everything we were doing, laugh at our most wonky jokes, and compliment us at every corner on our accents, clothes, or even our choices of drinks. People would strongly react with round eyes, laughter, and what seemed to me like a general tendency to exaggerate their feelings.

I got a similar impression later about Americans, then about Colombians, and it got me thinking: Are we, Europeans, such emotionless logs, sitting in silence with a straight face and dead eyes, that we are unable to see beauty and excitement in the smallest of things like our foreign counterparts do? How deep does this phlegm of ours go?

The French are known to be sparing with their compliments, but they usually mean every single word when they do give one. You might not get much praise from them, but when you do, you’ll know it means something and it’s not overacted. It will convey just the level of enthusiasm they think it deserves, or probably less because we can also be emotionless logs. But don’t hold it against us!

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Table of Contents

  1. Good Job!
  2. Complimenting Someone’s Look
  3. Complimenting the Mind
  4. This is Amazing!
  5. What Comes After a Compliment
  6. Compliments and the French Culture of Seduction
  7. Le Mot De La Fin

1. Good Job!

Compliments

One situation where you’d compliment someone is to praise them for doing a good job on something.

Whether you’re at work or home, a job well done deserves some appreciation. Although more reserved than some in this department, your French colleagues or friends shouldn’t fail to reward the quality of your work with some nice words.

Here are some common French compliments for a job well done:

  • Bien joué ! (“Well done!” Literally: “Well played!” )
  • Bon travail. (“Good work.” )
  • C’est du bon boulot. / C’est du bon travail. (“It’s good work.” )
  • Excellent travail. (“Excellent work.” )

And here’s how to compliment them on their awards or achievements:

  • Félicitations ! (“Congratulations!” )
  • Toutes mes félicitations. (“My congratulations.” )
  • Tu l’as bien mérité ! (“You’ve earned it!” or “You deserve it!” )

You don’t have to blindly follow the average French mindset. I’m personally trying to follow Dale Carnegie’s precept: “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” By praising whenever you can, even for small wins, you’ll make a strong impression on the French people you’re socializing with, as they’ll get more appreciation from you than they’d expect.

A Businesswoman Giving a Thumbs-up Sign

Bon travail ! (“Good work!” )

2. Complimenting Someone’s Look

If there’s one situation where the French don’t keep their tongue in their pocket, it’s when it comes to flirting, seduction, or praising their partner. Whether seeking pleasure or romance, this is when we could actually over-express our feelings and get carried away.

For now, let’s be superficial and see how to compliment someone in French for their good looks:

  • Tu es beau. (“You are handsome.” ) [Male]
  • Tu es belle. (“You are beautiful.” ) [Female]

Don’t forget that French adjectives need to agree with the subject. In most cases, the adjective’s ending will simply change, as in:

  • Tu es charmant. (“You are charming.” ) [Male]
  • Tu es charmante. (“You are charming.” ) [Female]

But there are some cases, such as with beau and belle, where the two words are different.

    → You can find more on adjectives and how they work in our Complete Guide to French Adjectives on FrenchPod101.com.

With the same structure, you can make many more compliments:

  • Tu es magnifique / superbe / élégant(e) / classe.
    (“Wonderful,” “Superb,” “Elegant,” “Classy” )

We could go on for quite some time!

These are very general compliments, so let’s get more specific:

  • Tu as de beaux yeux. (“You have beautiful eyes.” )
  • Tu as de beaux cheveux. (“You have beautiful hair.” )
  • Tu as de belles mains. (“You have beautiful hands.” )

Technically, you can compliment on whatever you want, but some body parts are more popular targets and complimenting someone on their elbows or earlobes might raise a few eyebrows. Don’t let that keep you from doing it, though, if you ever meet someone whose amazing elbows leave you speechless!

It’s always nice to be complimented on your body, but unless it’s aimed at your hard-earned muscles or surgically fixed nose, chances are you haven’t done anything to deserve the praise. What about when we switch to something else?

  • J’aime bien tes chaussures. (“I like your shoes.” )
  • J’aime beaucoup ton maquillage. (“I really like your makeup.” )
  • J’adore ta robe ! (“I love your dress!” )
  • Ce chapeau te va très bien. (“This hat suits you very well.” )
  • Tes lunettes sont super cool ! (“Your glasses are super-cool!” )
  • Je veux le même t-shirt ! (“I want the same T-shirt!” )

Young and middle-aged French men are wearing lots of printed T-shirts where they can display their favorite comic characters, movie posters, video game artwork, as well as countless pop culture references. For example, if I’m wearing my Godzilla T-shirt and one of my coworkers comments on it with a subtle reference or clever remark, it instantly creates a connection, as we’re bonding over our common tastes in entertainment.

A Cat with Clothes, a Wig, and a Beard

Tu as une très belle barbe. (“You have a very beautiful beard.” )

3. Complimenting the Mind

Enough with the superficial compliments! Sure, everyone likes to be appreciated for their appearance, but we also want our minds to be praised! Let’s see some of the best French compliments regarding someone’s intellect or skills.

Tu es intelligent. (“You’re intelligent.” )
Tu es malin / futé. (“You’re smart / clever.” )

There are many other words you can use, such as:

  • Intéressant (“Interesting” )
  • Perspicace (“Insightful” )
  • Drôle (“Funny” )
  • Cultivé (“Cultured” )
  • Gentil (“Kind” )
  • Sympa (“Nice” )
  • Adorable (“Adorable” )

You can also compliment people on their skills with simple structures like:

Tu _____ bien. (“You ____ well.” )

  • Tu chantes bien. (“You sing well.” )
  • Tu écris assez bien. (“You write rather well.” )
  • Tu cuisines très bien. (“You cook very well.” )
  • Tu dessines vraiment bien. (“You draw really well.” )

Tu as une bonne / belle ______. (“You have a good / beautiful ____.” )

  • Tu as une bonne conduite. (“You have a good driving style.” )
  • Tu as un bon style. (“You have a good style.” )
  • Tu as une belle écriture. (“You have beautiful writing.” )

An Old Couple Dancing Together at a Party

Tu danses bien ! (“You’re a good dancer!” )

4. This is Amazing!

When you compliment a thing, you’re often indirectly praising a person. When you’re in awe of the food, you’re praising the cook; when you fall in love with a song, all credit goes to the artist.

Here are the most useful words and sentences to share that you like something:

  • C’est bien. (“It’s good.” )
  • C’est bon. (“It’s good.” Mainly used to mean “it tastes good” or “it feels good.” )
  • C’est magnifique. (“It’s wonderful.” )
  • C’est magique ! (“It’s magical!” )
  • C’est intéressant / passionnant / divertissant. (“It’s interesting / fascinating / entertaining.” )

Don’t leave the cook hanging. Let’s see more French compliments for food:

  • C’était très bon. (“It was very good.” )
  • C’est délicieux. (“It’s delicious.” )
  • C’est vraiment excellent. (“It’s really excellent.” )
  • Ça a l’air délicieux. (“It looks delicious.” )
  • Ça sent très bon. (“It smells very good.” )
  • Mes compliments au chef. (“My compliments to the chef.” )

In France, we joke about the fact that burping is a way to show your appreciation for the food, but unless you’re among friends in a private environment, you should certainly refrain from letting it out.

    → Learn more about table manners in our Complete Guide on French Etiquette.

And here are some mild compliments for when you’re satisfied, but not impressed:

  • C’est sympa. (“It’s nice.” )
  • C’est pas mal. (“It’s okay.” )
  • C’est pas pire. (“It’s okay.” Quebec only.)
  • C’est pas dégueu. (“It’s not bad.” [Familiar] Originally about food, but we use it figuratively for any other thing.)

A Cheesecake Slice with Strawberry Topping

Ça a l’air très bon ! (“It looks delicious!” )

5. What Comes After a Compliment

Complimenting is often a two-way street and there are some social norms for the aftermath.

How should you say “thank you”? What do you answer after someone thanks you for your compliment? Should you deflect compliments? Everything will be answered in this chapter.

1 – Express Your Gratitude

The easiest thing you can do after a compliment is to accept it and thank the complimenter. Look the person in the eyes, smile, say “thank you,” and you’ll be fine! (Yes, I’m also teaching you how to look human, in case you’re an android or a disguised alien.)

  • Merci ! (“Thank you!” )
  • Merci beaucoup. (“Thank you very much.” )

What if you compliment someone and receive a merci?

  • De rien ! (“You’re welcome!” Literally: “of nothing” )
  • Je t’en prie. (“You’re welcome.” Literally: “I pray you for it.” )

2 – Answer with Another Compliment

This is the equivalent of answering “What’s up?” with “How are you doing?” but it’s still perfectly acceptable.

Complimenting someone back in French is the same as in English. You can either answer with a simple “you too” or try and be more creative.

For example:

  • Tu as de très beaux yeux. (“You have very beautiful eyes.” )
    Toi aussi. [Casual] / Vous aussi. [Formal] (“You too!” )
  • J’adore ton t-shirt ! (“I love your T-shirt!” )
    Merci, mais je ne peux pas rivaliser avec ta chemise. (“Thank you, but I can’t compete with your shirt.” )

3 – Don’t Deny Compliments or Demean Yourself

Another way to react to a compliment is to deny it by explaining why you don’t deserve it. It usually sounds awkward and may be insulting to the complimenter, so obviously, I would not recommend it. But here’s how it would sound in French:

  • J’adore ton t-shirt ! (“I love your T-shirt!” )
    C’est juste un vieux truc que je porte pour dormir. (“It’s just an old rag I sleep with.” )
  • Très bon travail, ton script. (“Very good work on your script.” )
    Je trouve ça plutôt ennuyeux, mais merci. (“I find it rather boring, but thank you.” )

In general, you should embrace the compliment and accept it with modesty. Don’t undermine the compliment with phrases such as:

  • Oh non, c’est rien. (“Oh no, it’s no big deal.” )
  • Non, ce n’était vraiment rien. (“No, but it was nothing.” )

4 – Share the Credit

If you ever answer with a compliment, do it genuinely, without entering a compliment battle.

However, you can give credit where it’s due, and accept the compliment while sharing the credit with your team or contributors. For example:

  • Rien de tout ça n’aurait été possible sans mon équipe. (“None of this would have been possible without my team.” )

Man and Woman Complimenting Each Other at a Piano

– Tu as de beaux cheveux. (“You have beautiful hair.” )
Toi aussi. (“You too.” )
– …

6. Compliments and the French Culture of Seduction

1 – Complimenting VS Showing Interest

It’s always nice to receive compliments, but what most of the French really want (besides eternal life and free cookies) is to generate interest and curiosity. If you’re hitting on a guy with a beautiful beard, don’t compliment him on his beard; he’s heard that one countless times.

You should go for something original and unpredictable, or even better: Skip the compliment entirely and just show your interest in whatever he’s doing, what he likes, his values, his core beliefs, or his favorite Star Wars characters. Anything, as long as it’s meaningful to both of you.

Especially in Paris, French girls get a lot of hassle from the sad crowd of wannabe Don Juans loitering in the streets and metro stations. As a result, compliments are just not as well-received as they used to be. Unspoken compliments, such as an eloquent stare, a smile, or a sincere show of interest can go a much longer way.

2 – The “Negs Hit,” a French Pickup Technique

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating pickup techniques in general, but I find this one culturally interesting.

Popularized by self-proclaimed “Pick-Up Artist” Erik Von Markovik, the Negs Hit is a negative comment aimed at your target (usually a girl you want to seduce) to destabilize her and get her to lower her guard.

It’s usually aimed toward girls with high self-esteem, if they get overly defensive at your approach. Using Negs Hits with someone who’s already into you and opening up would be counter-productive.

A Negs Hit is not supposed to be insulting or hurtful, and should not target any major flaw the person is likely to have a complex about. It’s a slightly embarrassing and seemingly innocent comment you’d make on a flaw in her looks or behavior. By doing so, you communicate that you’re not impressed with her desirability and that you’re not interested in her as a potential partner.

It’s supposed to create curiosity and interest toward you, as well as lower her guard for the moment you’d choose to switch to a more traditional seductive approach, should you decide to do so. I personally think it should just be called “having a sense of humor,” and it works wonders to filter people out who don’t have one, as they’ll get angry at your comment and walk away.

A Man Flirting with a Woman from a Window

Jolie coiffure ! C’est une perruque ? (“Nice hairstyle! Is it a wig?” )

7. Le Mot De La Fin

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about French compliments: how to compliment a guy or a girl, how to cheer the chef, and even how to flirt in French. You’ve also learned many praise words in French and how to put them together. Did I forget any important compliment you’d like to know about? Do you feel ready to express your appreciation and gratitude using everything we’ve learned today?

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and have your private teacher help you practice compliments and more, using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples for you. Your teacher can also review your audio recordings to help improve your pronunciation.

Happy learning on FrenchPod101.com!

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About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

Celebrating Whit Monday in France

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The majority of France’s population (around sixty-five percent) identifies as Christian, with most of those Christians being Catholic. Considering the large Christian population, Christian holidays are a big deal here!

In this article, you’ll learn about the Whit Monday holiday in France. We’ll dive into the Whit Monday meaning, explore the most common traditions in France, and go over some important vocabulary you should know.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Whit Monday in France?

The Shape of a Dove Against the Sun

Whit Monday is a Christian holiday that celebrates the descent of the Saint-Esprit (“Holy Spirit” ) onto Jesus’s disciples. The Holy Spirit’s descent is said to mark the “birthday” of the Christian church. Catholics celebrate this holiday as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The name of this holiday is thought to stem from Pentecost’s other name (Whit Sunday or Whitsun), with “whit” referring to the white garments worn by those hoping to be baptized. Others speculate that “whit” could refer to the Anglo-Saxon “wit,” which refers to one’s understanding. After all, the Holy Spirit is thought to provide understanding and wisdom to Christians.

Whit Monday in France is a jour férié (“public holiday” ), which means that the majority of businesses are closed. However, due to an unprecedented canicule (“heatwave” ) that took place from 2005 to 2007, many people had to work during this holiday to help provide service de santé (“health services” ) for the older population. Today, Whit Monday is still considered a public holiday, though many French people do end up working.

    → See our vocabulary list on Religion to learn some useful vocab.

2. What Date is Whit Monday This Year?

A Rabbit in an Easter Basket

Whit Monday is a moveable holiday, meaning that its date changes each year according to the Christian calendar and the date of Pâques (“Easter” ). For your convenience, we’ve outlined this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 1
  • 2021: May 24
  • 2022: June 6
  • 2023: May 29
  • 2024: May 20
  • 2025: June 9
  • 2026: May 25
  • 2027: May 17
  • 2028: June 5
  • 2029: May 21

3. Whit Monday Traditions & Celebrations

Someone Having Their Baby Baptized

Whit Monday is a time to commemorer (“commemorate” ) the gift of the Holy Spirit, though this holiday doesn’t have quite the same religious connotation as Whit Sunday (Pentecost) does. The Whit Monday holiday is often considered a perfect opportunity for baptême (“baptism” ), with many Christians being baptized for the first time or re-baptized.

In addition to religious celebrations, a common French Whit Monday tradition is to visit with family and friends. This often involves eating a nice meal or going out together. Some people prefer to stay at home and enjoy their time off work, while others engage in outdoor activities if the weather permits.

As mentioned, on Whit Monday, France’s businesses are largely closed, though a few may be open for people’s enjoyment.

4. Shavuot

Shavuot is a major Jewish holiday, and it’s thought that the apostles were in the process of celebrating this holiday when the Holy Spirit descended on them.

During Shavuot, a holiday celebrating the wheat harvest, Jews offer bikkurim (first fruits) at the temple, read the Book of Ruth, and eat dairy products.

5. Must-Know French Vocabulary for Whit Monday

A Cemetery with White Crosses and Purple Flowers

Let’s review the most important words and phrases for Whit Monday in France!

  • Cinquante — “Fifty” [n. masc]
  • Jour — “Day” [n. masc]
  • Religion — “Religion” [n. fem]
  • Service de santé — “Health services” [n.]
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday” [masc]
  • Pâques — “Easter” [fem]
  • Messe — “Mass” [n. fem]
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Commemorer — “Commemorate” [v.]
  • Saint-Esprit — “Holy Spirit” [masc]
  • Apôtre — “Apostle” [n. masc]
  • Venue — “Descent” [n. fem]
  • Baptême — “Baptism” [n. masc]
  • — “Elderly” [adj.]
  • Canicule — “Heatwave” [n.]

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to visit our French Whit Monday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Whit Monday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Whit Monday in your country? If so, are traditions there similar or quite different from those in France? We look forward to hearing your answers in the comments.

If you want to continue learning about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has many free resources for you:

This only scratches the surface of everything FrenchPod101.com can offer the aspiring French-learner. To make the most of your study time, create your free lifetime account today; for access to exclusive content and lessons, upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans.

We want to help you reach your goals in the most fun and straightforward way possible, and we’ll be here every step of your language-learning journey!

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Celebrating Mother’s Day in France

Did you know that people have been celebrating mothers and motherhood for a very long time? After all, what would the world be like without mothers? A lot bleaker than it is already, I imagine!

Like many countries around the world, France has a special holiday set aside to honor one’s mother. In this article, you’ll learn all about Mother’s Day, France’s take on this holiday, and some new vocab.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is thought to have originated as far back as Ancient Greece, where the population organized springtime ceremonies for Rhea, the grandmother to the gods (and Zeus’ mother). The Ancient Romans had a similar holiday for celebrating mothers, called Matronalia. What we think of as Mother’s Day today, however, likely originated in the United States when Anna Jarvis publicly commemorated her deceased mother.

In 1929, the French government officially made Mother’s Day a holiday after many years of smaller celebrations throughout the country. The village of Artas refers to itself as the “cradle of Mother’s Day” due to a celebration it held in 1906 for mothers of large families. In 1920, this holiday was recognized, later becoming Mother’s Day as we know it today. In 1941, the Vichy Regime put this holiday on the calendar, and it was set to be the last Sunday of May; this took effect after the war.

In modern times, Mother’s Day is simply a holiday dedicated to honoring one’s mother and showering her with gifts.

2. When is Mother’s Day in France?

Mother’s Day is on a Sunday

Each year, the French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in May (unless it falls on the same day as Pentecost, in which case it’s moved to the first Sunday of June). For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 7
  • 2021: May 30
  • 2022: May 29
  • 2023: June 4
  • 2024: May 26
  • 2025: May 25
  • 2026: May 31
  • 2027: May 30
  • 2028: May 28
  • 2029: May 27

3. Mother’s Day in France: Traditions & Celebrations

A Little Girl Holding Up a Handmade Mother’s Day Card

The most popular way to celebrate this holiday is by giving Mother’s Day gifts.

Starting from an early age, children make gifts for their mothers by hand; common items include cards and jewelry that were made in school. As children grow older, they may buy their mother things like clothes, perfume, or Mother’s Day flowers. Other popular gifts include chocolat (“chocolate”), a carte de vœux (“greeting card”), or a bon d’achat (“gift certificate”).

In addition, some children may give their mother a petit déjeuner au lit (“breakfast in bed”), and her husband may take the family out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner somewhere.

4. Médaille de la Famille

In France, there’s an honorary medal called the Médaille de la Famille that’s given out to families who have done well in raising a great many children.

Originally, this medal was created in hopes of giving mothers the honor and appreciation they deserve. Later on, however, fathers and other caregivers were allowed to receive this award as well.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Mother’s Day in France

A Family Eating Dinner Together

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here are the most important words and phrases for Mother’s Day!

  • Dîner — “Dinner” [n. masc]
  • Dimanche — “Sunday” [n. masc]
  • Chocolat — “Chocolate” [n. masc]
  • Aimer — “Love” [v.]
  • Fille — “Daughter” [n. fem]
  • Fils — “Son” [n. masc]
  • Cadeau — “Present” [n. masc]
  • Rose — “Rose” [n. fem]
  • Mère — “Mother” [n. fem]
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate” [v.]
  • Petit déjeuner au lit — “Breakfast in bed” [masc]
  • Carte de vœux — “Greeting card” [fem]
  • Bon d’achat — “Gift certificate” [n. masc]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Mother’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about French Mother’s Day celebrations with us, and that you took away some valuable information from this article.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day in your country? We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to learn even more about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has several more great articles for you:

This just scratches the surface of all that FrenchPod101.com can offer the aspiring French-learner. Create your free lifetime account today and make the most of your study time, or upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans to gain access to exclusive content and lessons.

Wherever you are in your language-learning journey, we want to help you reach your goals with confidence and finesse.

Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

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“Excuse My French” – Getting Angry in French, with Style!

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Did you know that anger is a sign of weakness? These intense emotions bursting out of us like a raging volcano can be intimidating and mistaken for a show of strength, but they’re quite the opposite. We get angry when we’re afraid or weak, when we feel overwhelmed or outsmarted. However, properly channeled, it can be a spark, igniting you with power and purpose.

If you get upset in France, better do it with flair and panache! It’s important that you know the various words and expressions for how to say “I’m angry” in French, because in the heat of the moment, you won’t have time to think it through!

You should know that profanity is far from being as much of a taboo in France as it is in the U.S., and it’s not uncommon to hear seemingly obscene swearing in public places or even at work. The French are quite open about it and, to be honest, are often oblivious to the actual meaning of our colorful expressions.

However, in this article, we’ll focus on the family-friendly angry French phrases that you can use just about anywhere without having to carefully assess the situation.

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Table of Contents

  1. Angry Orders
  2. Angry Questions
  3. Angry Blames
  4. Describing Your Frustration
  5. Culture: How to Make the French Angry
  6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Angry Orders

Negative Verbs

1- “Shut your trap!”

Whether you want the person to be quiet or you’ve lost the argument but won’t admit it, you might want to firmly ask someone to shut up. Here are a couple of ways to demand the silence you so dearly desire:

  • Tais-toi ! (“Shut up!” )

The verb se taire means “to keep quiet.”

Je me tais. (“I keep quiet.” )

Used in the imperative form, it’s a common way to request someone’s silence without being too harsh.

  • La ferme ! (“Shut up!” )
  • Ferme-la ! (“Shut up!” )

The verb fermer means “to close” or “to shut” and this is the closest expression to the English phrase “shut up.” Literally meaning “Shut it!” it’s a shortened and slightly more polite version of “Shut your trap,” but still more rude than tais-toi.

2- “Watch your tone!”

If someone is being aggressive, offensive, or raising their voice at you, it might be time to tell them to pipe down with a sharp: “Watch your tone, buddy!”

  • Surveille ton langage ! (“Watch your language!” )

This one can be used when unnecessary profanities have been put to the table. It’s a polite expression that can be used even in formal situations if you use the vous.

Surveillez votre langage. [Formal]

  • Ne me parle pas sur ce ton. (“Don’t you use that tone with me.” )

This second expression is more focused on the tone than the choice of words. It’s also perfectly suitable for a formal situation when things are heating up too much and you feel like you’re owed more respect.

Ne me parlez pas sur ce ton. [Formal]

Man Yelling at Someone

La ferme ! (“Shut up!” )

3- “Stop it!”

Whatever you want to stop, you need to be clear and articulated. Here are two variations that should get similar results:

  • Ça suffit ! (“That’s enough!” )

The verb suffire means “to be sufficient” or “to be enough,” so it’s hard to find more straightforward angry French expressions than ça suffit !

  • Arrête ! (“Stop!” )

Coming from arrêter (“to stop” ), this is the shortest and most explicit way to tell someone to stop whatever they’re doing. You might want to be a little more specific, depending on the context:

  • Arrête de me parler. (“Stop talking to me.” )
  • Arrête tes bêtises. (“Stop your nonsense.” )
  • Arrête de faire ça ! (“Stop doing this!” )
  • Arrête de chanter du Reggaeton. (“Stop singing Reggaeton.” )

4- “Get away from me!”

Sometimes, the best way to avoid getting even angrier at someone is to get them out of your sight. Let’s see how to handle that:

  • Dégage ! (“Get away!” )

This is a simple yet quite aggressive way to ask someone to get out of your face. You can spice it up a little with:

Dégage de là. (“Get away from there.” )

  • Fous le camp ! (“Get out of here!” )

Foutre le camp or Ficher le camp (the old-fashioned and more polite version) is an old expression from the XVIII century. Ficher used to mean “to take” and camp unsurprisingly translates to “camp.” The expression roughly means “to pick up your tent and leave camp.”

  • Va te faire voir ! (“Get lost!” )

Literally: “Go make yourself seen.”

Va te faire voir is a greatly watered down version of another popular expression using the French F-word, but this one is much more offensive: Va te faire foutre !

Conversely, a cute alternative would be:

Va voir ailleurs si j’y suis. (“Go somewhere else and see if you can find me.” )

Complaints

2. Angry Questions

These French angry phrases are ALL rhetorical questions. Let’s be clear about the fact that you’re not expecting an answer. Should you receive one anyway, it’s likely to anger you even more!

  • Et alors ? (“So what?” )

First of all, you should know that et alors is not always an angry phrase. It has two distinct meanings:

1- “Tell me more!”, “And then, what happened?”

    J’ai vu le dernier Tarantino hier. (“I’ve seen the latest Tarantino yesterday.” )
    Et alors ? (“Tell me more.” )

2- “So what?” is more of an exclamation than a question. It means that you don’t really care about the previous statement or objection.

    Ma mère est très malade. (“My mother is very ill.” )
    Et alors ? (“So what?” )
    T’es vraiment un con. (“You’re such an ass.” )
    Et alors? (“So what?” )
  • Qu’est-ce qui te prend ? (“What’s gotten into you?” )

Literally: “What is taking you?”

  • Qu’est-ce que tu fous ? (“What the hell are you doing?” )

F-word is back with a vengeance. You can soften it with Qu’est-ce que tu fiches ? or Qu’est-ce que tu fabriques ? However, this last variation is so innocuous that it should be said with a sharp tongue to convey your exasperation.

  • Et puis quoi encore ? (“And what’s next?” )

Literally: “And then, what again?”

I couldn’t find a satisfying English equivalent, but we use this phrase to express disapproval or exasperation. You can also use it when you feel like the other person is asking too much.

    Est-ce que je peux emprunter ta voiture, coucher avec ta femme et terminer ta bière ? (“Can I borrow your car, sleep with your wife, and finish your beer?” )
    Et puis quoi encore ? ( [Ironically] “And what’s next?” )
  • Tu veux ma photo ? (“What are you looking at?” )

Literally: “Do you want my picture?”

Use this when someone is staring at you to the point where it makes you upset.

Women might want to remember this one when they go out and attract unwanted stares from creepy weirdos.

  • Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette histoire ? (“What on earth are you talking about?” )

Literally: “What is this story?”

This can be said when someone tells you something crazy, difficult to understand, hard to believe, or tough to swallow.

    On m’a dit que je n’avais pas été recrutée à cause de ma coupe de cheveux. (“I’ve been told I wasn’t hired because of my haircut.” )
    Qu’est-ce que c’est que cette histoire ? (“Wait, what?” )
  • Tu te fous de moi ? (“Are you kidding me?” )

Softer versions are available: Tu te fiches de moi ? or Tu te moques de moi ?

They all express the same level of incredulity.

  • Ça va pas ? (“What’s wrong with you?” )

Literally: “Are you unwell?”

We use this phrase to express disbelief over what a person is doing or saying.

  • T’es malade ou quoi ? (“Are you crazy or what?” )

Literally: “Are you sick or what?”

Man Angrily Staring Over Sunglasses

You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here.

3. Angry Blames

Weakness or not, la coupe est pleine (“enough is enough” ). You’re officially angry and ready to come down on someone like a ton of bricks. Heads will roll!

  • C’est n’importe quoi ! (“That’s bullsh*t!” )

Literally: “That’s anything!”

You can also shorten it to N’importe quoi ! (“Bullsh*t!” )

Note that you can use this n’importe quoi in other sentences like:

  • Tu fais n’importe quoi. (“You’re acting stupid.” )
  • Tu dis n’importe quoi. (“You’re talking nonsense.” )
  • Il ne manquait plus que ça. (“Just what we needed!” )

Literally: “We were only missing this.”

You’d say this when sh*t just keeps piling up, one annoyance after another.

  • Tu ne m’écoutes pas. (“You’re not listening to me.” )
  • C’est une honte. (“It’s a disgrace.” )
  • C’est inacceptable. (“It’s unacceptable.” )
  • Ce ne sont pas tes affaires. (“It’s none of your business.” )
  • T’occupes ! (“Not your business!” )

T’occupe is short for T’occupe pas, which comes from the imperative sentence: Ne t’occupe pas de ça. (“Do not worry about this.” or “Do not deal with this.” )

This isn’t necessarily an angry sentence. You could use it to refrain someone from helping you if you feel like you have everything under control, or when you don’t want to answer questions on something that you want to keep secret or private.

  • Tu es sûre que tu n’as pas besoin d’aide ? (“Are you sure you don’t need help?” )
  • T’occupe ! (“Stay out of it!” )
  • Tu me saoules ! (“I’m sick of you!” )

Literally: “You’re making me drunk!” (But in a bad way! )

We have many words in French for “to get drunk,” and se saouler is more often used in the context of being fed up and exasperated.

This is one of those angry things to say in French when someone has been pissing in your ear for a while and you just can’t take it anymore, or when a task is really tedious or unpleasant.

  • Ce mec m’a saoulée toute la matinée. (“This guy annoyed me all morning.” )
  • Ça me saoule, ce boulot ! (“I’m sick of this job!” )
  • Tu me gonfles ! (“You’re getting on my nerves!” )

Literally: “You are inflating me!”

The origin of this slang expression is unclear. Some see a sexual reference, but the most probable interpretation is that you feel like you’re slowly inflating with anger, close to the point of figurative explosion.

  • Tu me prends la tête ! (“You’re driving me crazy!” )

Literally: “You’re taking my head!”

I use this every time someone (or something) is busting my chops. IE: makes my life miserable, with useless complication or just plain nonsense.

  • Ce formulaire me prend la tête. (“This form is driving me crazy.” )
  • Cette fille me prend la tête. (“This girl is driving me crazy.” )

You can also do it to yourself:

  • Je me prends la tête sur ma compta depuis ce matin. (“I’ve been driving myself crazy on my accounting since this morning.” )

And finally, it can be used when people are complicating their lives for no reason, or spending too much time brooding over something.

  • Tu te prends encore la tête là-dessus ? (“Are you still losing your head over this?” )
    → Make sure to visit our vocabulary list about Curse Words, with audio recordings to practice your pronunciation. It’s freely available on FrenchPod101.

Man Holding Head in Hand

Ça me prend la tête ! (“It’s driving me crazy!” )

4. Describing Your Frustration

Negative Feelings

Now that you’ve let off some steam with angry French sayings, it’s time to tell people how you feel. Are you fed up? Sick and tired? Dazed and confused or violently furious?

  • J’en ai marre ! (“I’m tired of it!” )

Literally: ..?

The literal meaning is hard to tell because the very origin of this expression is still debated. Does it come from old French’s marrir (“to afflict” ), from the Spanish “mareo” (“sea-sickness,” but also “boredom” ), or from the 17th century expression avoir son mar (“to have enough” )?

  • J’en ai ras-le-bol ! (“I’ve had enough of this!” )

Literally: “I have my bowl full!”

What about the origin of this wildly popular expression? To be honest, I had to look it up and I believe most French have no idea that the bol (“bowl” ) is a slangy analogy for the butt.

Short of knowing about this, I’ve heard this expression in all kinds of circles, including professional contexts where people complain about their filled butt without second thought.

  • J’en ai assez ! (“I’ve had enough!” )
  • J’en peux plus ! (“I can’t take it anymore!” )
  • J’en ai jusque là ! (“I’ve had enough!” )

Literally: “I have it up to here!”

Once again, it’s difficult to trace the exact origin of this expression, but it implies that you’re full of whatever is upsetting you and you can’t take any more of it.

  • Ça me fait une belle jambe. (“A fat lot of good it does me.” )

Literally: “It makes me a beautiful leg.”

With this ironic expression, you’re answering to something that’s supposed to give you some comfort or satisfaction but really doesn’t. This “something” is useless, worthless, and doesn’t have the intended effect.

    Je sais que tu as perdu ton travail, mais au moins, il fait beau ! (“I know you’ve lost your job, but at least it’s a sunny day!” )
    Ça me fait une belle jambe. (“A lot of good it does me.” )

In the 12th century, French men started wearing tights. Yes, just like our modern-day superheroes, except that we didn’t wear our underwear over it. Then, in the 17th century, displaying muscular and elegant male leg became increasingly fashionable. You had to wear stylish tights on well-shaped legs, and this is where the expression faire la belle jambe (“to do the beautiful leg” ) appeared.

Fast-forward to the 19th century. After 200 years of evolution, we get to today’s ironic version of the original expression: Ça me fait une belle jambe.

Girl Frustrated with Homework

J’en peux plus… (“I can’t take it anymore…” )

5. Culture: How to Make the French Angry

“You’re making me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” (Bruce Banner)

1- “French are lazy!”

If you know something about the French working culture, you might have this mental image of us working five hours a day and enjoying months of vacations while being showered with social benefits and perks all year round.

It’s true that France is doing very well in the field of social welfare and that French workers benefit from a neat package of bonuses and protection. In many other countries, if you lose your job, you’re in serious life-threatening trouble.

That being said, generations of French fought hard for these rights throughout several social revolutions, and we’re keeping the fight alive today. French workers are often considered by foreign employers to be hard and dedicated workers, and there are few things they hate more than being called lazy!

2- “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ?”

French women have a reputation for being easy. Where this is coming from is beyond me. Maybe because the French are comfortable with nudity, or not too prudish about public displays of affection. However, the fact that French women speak openly about sex and seem confident about what they want doesn’t make them any easier to seduce. In fact, the French dating scene is likely to feel very confusing for North Americans.

So please, don’t go quoting Lady Marmelade with a bold Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir ? (“Do you want to sleep with me tonight?” ) and expect French girls to fall in your arms like butter melts in the hot pan. They might find it funny or lame, but they hate when foreigners assume they’re just waiting to jump in their bed.

Couple Drinking Champagne on Christmas

No, one drink is not enough. You also have to be charming!

6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about how to say “I am angry” in French, from bitter words and expressions to furious questions and outraged blames.

Did we forget any important expressions that you know? Do you feel ready to burst out in anger using everything you’ve learned today?

Besides getting angry yourself, which I wouldn’t wish for you, knowing how people express their anger in French may be useful when you’re taking the blame for something you did or didn’t do. Better prepared than sorry!

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to review these words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice talking and listening in French with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with pronunciation.

Happy French learning!

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About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

French Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in French & More

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Have you ever stopped to ponder on how much our lives revolve around defining moments? These could be happy or tragic, once-in-a-lifetime or recurring events, and depending on where you live, you might experience them in dramatically different ways.

If you live in France, have French friends, or have an interest in French culture, you need to know how major life events are handled there, and how to talk about them. You’ll need to know how to wish a happy birthday in French, a Merry Christmas or New Year, and how to offer condolences or wish for a swift recovery. Further, you’ll wish to know how to congratulate friends on their new degree, spouse, or offspring.

In this article, we’ll go through the ten major French life events and their cultural ins and outs. We’ll also provide you with a list of the most useful French phrases for congratulations (and condolences) so that you can take part in these pivotal moments, and as a result grow much closer to the people involved.

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Table of Contents

  1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)
  2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)
  3. Naissance (Birth)
  4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)
  5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)
  6. Retraite (Retirement)
  7. Mariage (Wedding)
  8. Funérailles (Funerals)
  9. Convalescence (Recovery)
  10. Fêtes (Holidays)
  11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. Joyeux Anniversaire ! (Happy Birthday!)

Happy Birthday

Just like in many other European countries and North America, French birthdays usually involve a party with friends or family, a cake, some optional singing, blowing out candles, and receiving presents.

  • There are no fixed rules on who should throw your fête d’anniversaire (birthday party). It could be friends, family, or even yourself. Most birthdays in France are celebrated either at home or a restaurant. In the latter case, you’re not expected to pay for everyone, but your friends might want to pay for you. It’s your special day, after all!
  • Le gâteau d’anniversaire (The birthday cake) can be absolutely whatever: fruits, cream, chocolate, nuts, you name it. The white frosting cliché isn’t really a thing in France. Some like to cook the cake, while others prefer to buy it at the pâtisserie (pastry shop). We put les bougies (the candles) on it.
  • Les cadeaux (The presents) are equally not codified and really depend on the person. For a kid, we usually go for a toy or book. Adults are tricky, but if you’re close enough to buy them a present, you should know what they like, right?
  • La chanson (The song) is the easy part, with lyrics as simple as: Joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire, joyeux anniversaire Nicolas ! Joyeux anniversaire ! (Assuming the birthday boy is called Nicolas). Or you could go for this nightmarish song from humorist and singer Patrick Sebastien.
  • Les cartes d’anniversaire (Birthdays cards) used to be a thing, and it never hurts to send one, but the younger generations go through social networks.

How to say Happy Birthday in French:

Joyeux anniversaire !
Bon anniversaire !
Heureux anniversaire !
“Happy birthday!”
(Postcard greetings)
Je te souhaite un joyeux anniversaire et plein de bonheur.
“I wish you a happy birthday and plenty of happiness!”

Older Woman Blowing Out Birthday Cake Candles

Don’t spit on the cake!

2. Bonne Fête ! (Happy Name Day!)

A tradition mainly in Europe and Latin America, name days are originally based on the Christian calendar of Saints, but everyone can celebrate it in France, even though we don’t make a big deal out of it.

Just locate your name on the calendar and you’ll know when your fête, or “name day,” is. You’re not featured there? Well, tough luck, but you won’t be missing much more than nice words and a pat on the shoulder. Presents and parties for a name day aren’t unheard of, but definitely not commonplace.

So, how do we celebrate a name day? More often than not, we don’t. Should you wish to do it, a small present or a postcard are safe bets, but buying a drink might work just as well.

Here’s how you can offer your congratulations in French to someone on their name day:

Bonne fête ! “Happy name day!”
Bonne fête, Nicolas ! “Happy name day, Nicolas!”
C’est la Saint Nicolas aujourd’hui, bonne fête ! “It’s Nicolas’ day. Happy name day!”

3. Naissance (Birth)

Talking About Age

We don’t do baby showers in France and have no pre-birth equivalent. This American tradition has been pushed through advertisement companies, but people are resisting, seeing it as consumerism or even something prone to bring bad luck. However, celebrations are held after birth with the regular shower of gifts.

Religious rituals have become unusual in France, and although biblical names are still popular, parents don’t choose the name of their newborn based on the Saint’s name of the birthday. Christian families can choose to baptize their children before their first anniversary, which leads to a Fête de baptème, or “Baptism party.”

Toutes mes félicitations !
Sincères félicitations !
“Congratulations!”
(Postcard greetings)

Bienvenue au petit Nicolas ! Meilleurs voeux de bonheur à tous les trois !

Félicitations pour la naissance de votre fille ! Puisse sa vie être faite de rires, de chansons, d’allégresse et de découvertes !

“Welcome to little Nicolas! Best wishes of happiness to all three of you!”

“Congratulations on the birth of your daughter! May her life be filled with laughter, songs, joy, and discoveries!”

Newborn Baby, Mother, and Doctor

Congratulations, it’s a baby!

4. Remise de Diplôme (Graduation)

Graduations are usually not cause for wide-scale celebrations in France, but we have nothing against it! Graduated students can celebrate among themselves over a drink or a party, while schools or universities can also organize festive events on graduation day.

Parents sometimes offer presents to their children to celebrate their success, but there are no conventions on what these gifts should be.

Félicitations !
Bien joué !
Bon travail !
“Congratulations!”
“Well done!”
“Nice job!”
Bravo pour ta réussite !
Bravo pour ton diplôme !
Félicitations pour ton examen !
“Congratulations on your success!”
“Congratulations on your degree!”
“Congratulations on your test!”
(Postcard greeting)

Bravo pour ton diplôme bien mérité après tout ce travail acharné.

“Congratulations on a well-deserved degree after all of your hard work.”
    → Learn more about education and degrees with our free vocabulary list on the Graduation Season.

5. Nouvel Emploi (New Job)

Basic Questions

Work isn’t as prominent in French mentality as it is in other countries. It’s generally accepted that you should work for a living but not live for your work, and as a result, the French are trying to strike the right balance between their professional and personal lives, without dedicating too much to their workplace.

Similarly, new jobs and promotions are usually not a big thing. Your new job can typically be celebrated with your partner, while promotions are a good excuse for a drink among colleagues.

[Casual] Bravo pour ton nouveau job !
Bravo pour ton nouveau poste !
“Congratulations on your new job!”
“Congratulations on your new position!”
[Formal] Félicitations pour ton nouvel emploi.
Félicitations pour ta promotion.
“Congratulations on your new position.”
“Congratulations on your promotion.”
(Postcard greeting)

Toutes mes félicitations pour votre promotion ! Etant donné la qualité de votre travail, une telle reconnaissance est amplement méritée.

“Congratulations on your promotion! Considering the quality of your work, such a recognition is well-deserved.”

Coworkers Celebrating

Embrace your new career with a cheesy smile.

    → Get ready to congratulate your friends on any new position with our free vocabulary list on Jobs.

6. Retraite (Retirement)

Most French retire between the ages of sixty and seventy, but l’âge de la retraite, or “the retirement age,” is steadily rising. This is a cause for concern and social unrest in the country.

The pension system is contribution-based. A retiree’s pension is proportional to the amount of contributions he paid during his working life. Those contributions are directly taken from the salary, in the form of a tax.

When their retraite, or “pension,” (yes, this is the same word as for “retirement” ) allows for it, it’s fairly common for the French to enjoy their retirement by traveling, either in the countryside or abroad.

Here are some ways to go about congratulating someone in French for their retirement:

[Professional] Bonne continuation ! “All the best!”
[Casual] Profite bien de ta retraite ! “Enjoy your retirement!”
(Postcard greeting)

Je te souhaite une heureuse et sereine retraite.

“I wish you a happy and peaceful retirement!”

7. Mariage (Wedding)

Marriage Proposal

Weddings in France can be celebrated in many different ways, depending on your religion, social status, and personality. The celebrations range from an unpretentious informal event to a fastuous large-scale banquet of expensive delicacies, with awe-inspiring choregraphies and expertly crafted speeches.

  • A French marriage is typically planned up to years in advance, and don’t leave much to improvisation (or spontaneity, for that matter). Hiring a wedding coach is a new trend for the wealthiest couples.
  • The tradition of enterrement de vie de garçon (“bachelor party,” but literally “Burial of boy’s life”)—enjoying your single life to the fullest, with heavy drinking and strippers, before shackling yourself to your spouse for the rest of your days—appeared recently and is gaining in popularity.
  • Mariage religieux, or “religious weddings,” have been on the decline for a while, and most people marry at their town hall. The PACS (civil union, that used to be the only option for same-sex unions before) is quickly becoming the most popular option.
  • We don’t do wedding rehearsals or rehearsal dinners.

Here are some of the most common French marriage congratulations:

Tous mes voeux de bonheur. “Best wishes of happiness.”
Toutes mes félicitations pour votre union
Toutes mes félicitations pour votre mariage.
“Congratulations on your union.”
“Congratulations on your wedding.”
(Postcard greeting)

Sincères félicitations et meilleurs voeux de bonheur.

“Sincere congratulations and best wishes of happiness.”

Bouquet on the Ground

“Wait, did you bring the bouquet?”

    → Practice your romantic fluency with our free vocabulary list on Quotes about Love.

8. Funérailles (Funerals)

Some peoples around the world see death as a cheerful event, cause for celebration and rejoicing. French funerals, however, are as grim and depressing as you can expect them to be if you grew up in a western country.

  • Enterrement, or “burial,” is the most common way to go, but crémation, or “cremation,” is also an option.
  • The tradition of veillée funèbre, or a “wake,” is on the decline but still going strong in villages. The modern version is often held in a dedicated rented place (and not in the house of the deceased, like it used to be), and usually not through the night.

Here’s some French condolences messages and French phrases for condolences:

Repose en paix.
Paix à son âme.
“Rest in peace.”
“May he/she rest in peace.”
Toutes mes condoléances. “My condolences.”
(Postcard condolence)

Nous partageons votre douleur et sommes de tout coeur avec vous.

“We share your pain and our hearts go out to you.”

9. Convalescence (Recovery)

Serious illnesses or grave injuries are tragic yet important events for anyone. In France, it’s fairly common for friends and family to visit someone at the hospital, to keep them company or bring them gifts in the hope of helping with their recovery by lifting their spirit.

At the workplace, when someone is away on a long sick leave, their coworkers can write a group card with greetings and wishes.

Bon rétablissement ! “Get well soon!”
[Casual] Prends soin de toi ! “Take care!”
[Formal] Je te souhaite un prompt rétablissement. “I wish you a swift recovery.”

Kids Giving Their Sick Mother a Gift

“Look mom, we found you a new kidney on Craigslist!”

10. Fêtes (Holidays)

Classic French holidays include:

  • Noël (Christmas).
    Most French celebrate it without any religious connotation, but this is still arguably the biggest holiday of the year. Our traditions involve un arbre de Noël (Christmas tree), une crêche (a small nativity scene) in Christian families, une bûche de Noël (log-shaped Christmas cake), and lots of cadeaux de Noël (Christmas gifts), especially for kids.
  • Nouvel an (New Year).
    This one comes a little too close after Christmas’ hangover, but it’s duly celebrated by most French anyway. It’s not as traditional, though, and may take any form, from a family dinner to a restaurant with friends, a romantic walk on the Seine, or a gathering of fireworks enthusiasts.
  • Pâques (Easter).
    Celebrating Easter in France involves bells, des oeufs de Pâques (Easter eggs), and most of all, LOTS of chocolate. It’s common to hide chocolate eggs around the house and/or garden and let the children go on a treasure hunt. Adults gift each other with fancy Belgian chocolate treats.

We have many more holidays! You can find them all on our French Calendar, on FrenchPod101.

A few more celebrations worth mentioning:

  • Halloween started growing in popularity roughly a decade ago, and is now widely celebrated throughout the country.

    Unsurprisingly, our most conservative fellow citizens see it as overly commercial and a threat to our traditions, but it doesn’t prevent the younger generation from throwing Halloween parties and wearing their ghoulish costumes in the street.

    The French Halloween is mainly for adults celebrating at home or in local bars, while children rarely go door-to-door for trick-or-treating.

  • Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France, and most French don’t even know what it’s about. However, given our love for never-ending dinner and delicious food, I’m sure there’s hope for this tradition to eventually land on our shores.
Joyeux Noël ! “Merry Christmas!”
Bonne année ! “Happy New Year!”
Joyeuses Pâques ! “Happy Easter!”
Poisson d’avril “April’s Fool”
Saint Valentin “Valentine’s Day”

A Christmas Light Display

Joyeux Noël ! (“Merry Christmas!” )

    → Don’t let the Christmas season take you off-guard; learn more festive vocabulary with our free list on Christmas!

11. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about the main life events as experienced in France, from birth to birthdays, weddings, and funerals. You’ve also learned the most important French phrases of congratulations, condolences, and well-wishing.

Did I forget any important event that you’ve been through or heard about? Do you feel ready to take part in these defining moments of the lives of your French friends with all the right words and phrases?

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and practice life event phrases with your private teacher. You’ll gain access to assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples, and an experienced tutor to review your work and help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

Dimanche de Rameaux: Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Dimanche de Rameaux, or Palm Sunday in France, is a major Christian holiday with many fascinating traditions. In this article, you’ll learn about the story behind Palm Sunday, France’s most common celebrations, and some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Palm Sunday?

On Palm Sunday, exactly one week before Easter (Pâques), Christians celebrate Jesus’ entrée, or “entrance,” into Jerusalem. According to the Bible, people welcomed his arrival by throwing palm branches on the ground he traveled, hence this holiday’s name. Palm Sunday is also the first day of Semaine Sainte, or “Holy Week.”

In France, Palm Sunday is a day strongly associated with plants and other springtime elements, as is true in some other cultures as well. We’ll go more into this later.

2. When is Palm Sunday in France?

A Calendar

The date of Palm Sunday varies each year, along with the dates of Lent and Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 5
  • 2021: March 28
  • 2022: April 10
  • 2023: April 2
  • 2024: March 24
  • 2025: April 13
  • 2026: March 29
  • 2027: March 21
  • 2028: April 9
  • 2029: March 25

3. Palm Sunday Traditions in France

A Man Carrying a Small Bible

Many French Palm Sunday traditions take place throughout the country, and they vary slightly based on region. For example, there are actually two different names for Palm Sunday. In northern France, it’s called Dimanche de Rameaux (“Sunday of Branches”); in southern France, it’s Dimanche de Palmes (“Sunday of Palms”). This is because the climate and weather of northern France are better suited for the growth of box-trees, while southern France has a climate more suited for palms. Some places in France also use olive branches.

On Palm Sunday, French believers go to the church to have their box-tree or palm branches blessed. They then take these branches home to decorate the front door, because some believe this grants God’s protection for the coming year. Some people also use these blessed branches as decorations for loved ones’ graves.

Another common Palm Sunday tradition is the Mass procession. This is when believers gather at one church to have the branches blessed and then proceed together toward a second church (or, if necessary, any other location deemed proper by the church).

4. Ash Wednesday

Each year, the branches that people took home on Palm Sunday are brought back to the church on Ash Wednesday the following year. There, the branches are burned, and the ashes are used to make a cross on the foreheads of believers. This is thought to give them God’s blessing.

5. Essential Palm Sunday Vocabulary

A Photo of Jerusalem

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Palm Sunday!

  • Dimanche — “Sunday”
  • Calendrier — “Calendar”
  • Pâques — “Easter”
  • Précéder — “Precede”
  • Entrée — “Entrance”
  • Semaine sainte — “Holy Week”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Jérusalem — “Jerusalem”
  • Mort — “Death”
  • Croix — “Cross”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Palm Sunday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Palm Sunday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Palm Sunday in your country? If so, do traditions vary from those in France or are they pretty much the same? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you’re fascinated with French culture and can’t get enough, we recommend that you check out the following pages on FrenchPod101.com:

That should be enough to satisfy your thirst for French cultural knowledge for a little while, but for even more learning resources, create your free lifetime account today. With FrenchPod101.com, you can learn all about French culture and the language, and have fun along the way.

Happy learning!

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Celebrating International Women’s Day in France

Celebrating International Women’s Day in France

International Women’s Day (sometimes referred to as International Working Women’s Day) is an important holiday in France and around the world. It’s a holiday dedicated to promoting women’s rights, fighting for gender equality, and celebrating the achievements of women.

In this article, you’ll learn about the history of International Women’s Day, France’s unique celebrations for it, and more fun facts. Let’s get started!

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1. What is International Women’s Day?

The main focus of International Women’s Day varies from country to country, but there are usually three common threads:

  • Women’s right to vote (droit de vote)
  • Women’s right to work (droit de travail)
  • The promotion of equality (égalité) between genders

It’s also a day to celebrate and honor the many achievements of women over the years!

History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day started in 1909, when the Socialist Party of America put together the first observance in New York City. The idea soon spread to Europe—and eventually, to many other countries around the world—through Luise Zietz, Clara Zetkin, and Käte Duncker. In 1911, Europe had its very first International Women’s Day events and celebrations.

For the first few years that International Women’s Day was observed, it largely held onto its socialist roots. Women often marched and demonstrated to promote “feminism” (féminisme) and “women’s rights” (droits des femmes), and the holiday quickly caught on in more socialist or communist countries like China.

2. When is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is on March 8

Each year, International Women’s Day is on March 8.

3. How to Celebrate International Women’s Day in France

A Crowd of Women Cheering

Celebrations and events for International Women’s Day vary, with some countries preferring to keep the theme of women’s rights and feminism, and others giving it a more commercialized spin.

International Women’s Day in France is a major celebration, and people throughout the country observe this holiday. Currently, one of the biggest issues being demonstrated against in France is the wage gap that women experience in the workplace.

In addition to demonstrations, women often receive gifts or special deals for International Women’s Day. These include things like bouquets of flowers, chocolate, and beauty-related products.

4. The Tour de France

A notable demonstration of women’s fight for equality in France is the Tour de France. In particular, there’s a group of women who have been riding the entire Tour de France by the name Donnons des Elles au Vélo Jour -1, which means “Let the girls ride the day before.”

You can read more about this on The Telegraph.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for International Women’s Day

50/50 Sign on Blackboard Symbolizing Gender Equality

Ready to review some of the French vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the essential words and phrases for International Women’s Day!

  • Manifestation — “Demonstration”
  • Travail — “Work”
  • Planète — “Planet”
  • Victoire — “Victory”
  • Pays — “Country”
  • Continent — “Continent”
  • Fin — “End”
  • Féminisme — “Feminism”
  • Lutte — “Fight”
  • Américain — “American”
  • Européen — “European”
  • Droit de vote — “Right to vote”
  • Droit de travail — “Right to work”
  • Discrimination — “Discrimination”
  • Droits des femmes — “Women’s rights”
  • International — “International”
  • Revendiquer — “Claim”
  • Égalité — “Equality”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French International Women’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about International Women’s Day in France with us! Do you celebrate this holiday in your country? If so, how?

If you’re interested in learning more about France’s unique culture and holidays, check out the following pages on FrenchPod101.com:

Whatever your reasons for developing an interest in French culture or the language, know that FrenchPod101.com is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. With tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone!

Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us.

Happy International Women’s Day from the FrenchPod101 family!

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French Conjunctions Chart: Guide to French Conjunctions

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Do you know what a conjunction is? Many people don’t, even though they use them every day, hundreds of times a day! Stick around to see our French conjunctions charts and more information on important French conjunctions.

Languages are all about connecting people, allowing them to understand each other and bond over a friendly conversation. Similarly, conjunctions connect words together, allowing them to make sense and become more than the sum of their parts.

French connecting words—also called conjunction words—are an important part of the language. You could learn as many vocabulary lists as you can possibly remember, but if you don’t know how to connect them with the right linking words, you’ll quickly feel limited in what you can express.

Is that enough to convince you it’s time to learn French conjunctions?

In this article, you’ll learn the most common French conjunctions and how to use them, with real-life examples. We’ll look at how to list things, how to express conditions and consequences, and much more. Oh, and we’ll also talk about food and love along the way!

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Table of Contents

  1. What are French Conjunctions?
  2. Common French Conjunctions for Listing Things
  3. Setting Conditions with Basic French Conjunctions
  4. Useful French Conjunctions for Expressing Causality
  5. Objection, Your Honor!
  6. What is Your Purpose?
  7. Conjunctive What Now?
  8. How Frenchpod101 Can Help You Learn More French

1. What are French Conjunctions?

Sentence Patterns

Conjunctions act as links between similar words or groups of words. They can convey various meanings and perform an array of actions, from listing things to expressing conditions or causality. If words were bricks, conjunctions would be the cement holding them together. If they were lasagnas, conjunctions would be the melty layer of cheese binding everything together. I’m sure you get the idea.

Now, I could bore you with the technicalities of French coordinating conjunctions, French subordinating conjunctions, and even French conjunctive phrases, but it wouldn’t help you remember any of them. And knowing the categories or their grammatical origin doesn’t bring much to the table. So why don’t we jump right in?

Here’s our list of common French conjunctions and some examples of French sentences with conjunctions.

2. Common French Conjunctions for Listing Things

Improve Listening

Let’s talk about food, and how to list food. These conjunctions can be used to list anything, from dates to people, locations, and ideas, but we’ll stick to edible goodies for now. 🙂

et (and)

  • Des fruits et des légumes
    “Fruits and vegetables”
  • Du pain, du vin et du fromage
    “Bread, wine, and cheese”

ou (or)

  • Fromage ou dessert ?
    “Cheese or dessert?”
  • Des pâtes, du riz ou des frites ?
    “Pasta, rice, or French fries?”

ni (nor)

  • Il ne mange ni viande ni poisson.
    “He eats neither meat nor fish.”

The ni __ ni __ structure is a sort of “neither __ nor __,” but can often be translated with a simple “or,” such as: “He doesn’t eat meat or fish.”

You can use ni anytime you want to say “no” to several listed elements. And I say several, because it can be extended to more than just two:

Il ne mange ni viande ni poisson, ni oeufs, ni fromage.

“He doesn’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or cheese.”

Another useful expression with ni is ni l’un ni l’autre, which translates to “neither one, nor the other.”
It’s a perfect pick when you want to deny two things without repeating them:

– Tu préfères la viande ou le poisson ?
“Do you prefer meat or fish?”

– Ni l’un ni l’autre.
“Neither.”

Table Full of Food

Avoir l’embarras du choix (“To be spoilt for choice”)

soit (either.. or)

  • Je prépare soit du thé, soit du café.
    “I’ll make either tea or coffee.”
  • Soit des pommes, soit des poires, soit des bananes.
    “Either apples, or pears, or bananas.”

Soit is the jealous version of ou that makes you choose exclusively. You won’t get any more than one of the items listed, so choose carefully!

Also keep in mind that the word soit can have a different meaning: “very well.”

For instance:
Donc, tu préfères du café ? Soit.
“So, you prefer the coffee? Very well.”

Don’t worry, though, with the context, there’s little to no chance that you could get them mixed up.

           To learn more appetizing words and how to pronounce them, make sure to check out our free vocabulary list on Food Utensils and Tableware on FrenchPod101.

3. Setting Conditions with Basic French Conjunctions

Improve Listening Part 2

“If,” “then,” and “else” are the bread-and-butter of every programmer, but are also involved in countless situations in our daily lives. They are among the most important conjunctions and, luckily, they behave similarly in French and English.

si (if)

  • S’il n’y a plus de café, je prendrai du thé.
    “If there is no more coffee, I will have tea.”
  • Je ne sais pas si je dois acheter du café ou si nous en avons assez.
    “I don’t know if I should buy coffee or if we have enough.”

alors (then; so)

  • Si tu ne bois rien d’autre, alors essaye au moins le vin.
    “If you don’t drink anything else, then at least try the wine.”

Whereas si works just like”if,” alors is a mixed bag and can translate to “then” or “so.”

You can use it like “then,” but it gets a bit too formal for conversational style:

  • Il y aura alors évidemment un dessert.
    “Then, obviously, there will be a dessert!”
  • Vous oublierez alors tous vos soucis.
    “You will then forget all your worries.”

Many times, alors can be translated as “so,” and tends to express consequence:

  • Je n’ai pas bu, alors je rentre en voiture.
    “I haven’t drunk, so I’m driving back home.”

Then, you have the cases of alors at the beginning or the end of a sentence:

  • Alors, comment tu trouves le vin ?
    “So, how do you like the wine?”
  • Tu reprendras bien un verre, alors !
    “You will have another round, then!”

sinon (otherwise; literally “if not” when translated)

  • Reprends un café, sinon tu vas t’endormir avant la fin.
    “Take another coffee, otherwise you will fall asleep before the end.”
  • Je ne bois pas de vin, sinon je rentre à pied.
    “I don’t drink wine, otherwise, I’m walking back home.”

Get a good boost of energy with our vocabulary list on Coffee. It has plenty of phrases and recordings to practice your pronunciation!

Desk Covered in Empty Coffee Cups

Un dernier pour la route ! (“One for the road!”)

4. Useful French Conjunctions for Expressing Causality

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Just like conjunctions tie words together, causality is what ties the world together: actions causing reactions, and causes having consequences, in an endless domino effect.

But before we collapse under the weight of these philosophical considerations, let’s keep it light and talk about our lame excuses for not doing sports!

car (because) [Formal]

  • Je ne peux pas courir car j’ai mal aux pieds.
    “I cannot run because my feet hurt.”

parce que (because) [Less formal than car]

  • Je ne vais pas à la gym parce qu’il fait trop chaud.
    “I’m not going to the gym because it’s too hot.”

puisque (since; as)

  • Puisque c’est un jour férié, le stade est sûrement fermé.
    “Since it’s a holiday, the stadium is probably closed.”

comme (as; since)

  • Comme je suis fatigué, je suis resté à la maison.
    “As I’m feeling tired, I have stayed home.”

quand (when)

  • Quand j’ai trop mangé, je ne peux faire de l’escalade.
    “When I have overeaten, I cannot go climbing.”

lorsque (when)

  • Lorsqu’il pleut, je ne vais pas m’entraîner.
    “When it is raining, I’m not going to training.”

Wooden Dominoes

Une réaction en chaîne (“A chain reaction”)

donc (so; therefore)

  • J’avais mal aux pieds, donc je suis resté chez moi.
    “My feet were hurting, so I stayed home.”

alors (so; therefore)

  • Il pleuvait, alors j’ai eu la flemme.
    “It was raining, so I got lazy.”

du coup (so; therefore)

  • J’étais épuisé, du coup j’ai fait la sieste.
    “I was exhausted, so I took a nap.”

Keep in mind that you’ll usually have to choose whether you use a conjunction for the cause or the consequence, not both.

For example—back to philosophy—in the famous quote from René Descartes (or Gomez Pereira, depending on who you ask): Je pense, donc je suis. (I think, therefore I am.) You wouldn’t say “Because I think, therefore I am.” The same goes for French.

In this sentence, you have two possible slots for a conjunction: 1 je pense, 2 je suis.
And you can fill soit 1, soit 2 (either 1 or 2).

Therefore, you could rephrase this famous quote like this:

  • Puisque je pense, je suis.
    “Because I think, I am.”
  • Comme je pense, je suis.
    “As I think, I am.”
  • Parce que je pense, je suis.
    “Since I think, I am.”

Or like this:

  • Je pense, alors je suis.
    “I think, then I am.”
  • Je pense, du coup je suis.
    “I think, so I am.”

If Descartes could read that last one, he would be spinning in his grave.

Or even put it upside down:

  • Je suis car je pense.
    “I am because I think.”
  • Je suis parce que je pense.
    “I am because I think.”

Computer Chip

A.I.s think. Therefore, are they?

5. Objection, Your Honor!

Next stop: how to use French conjunctions to attach two conflicting ideas by expressing an opposition or objection.

mais (but)

  • J’ai un faible pour Leah mais elle est fiancée.
    “I have a thing for Leah but she’s engaged.”
  • Il travaille lentement mais sûrement.
    “He’s working slowly but steadily.”

The next two words, cependant and or, are best used in professional and formal speech or you may sound too stiff. I, for one, never use them in conversations, but only for formal writing.

cependant (however) [Formal]

  • Je voudrais cependant lui parler.
    “However, I would like to talk to her.”

or (now; but; however) [Formal]

This one can be used in two distinct ways:

1- or can introduce new information that will change the situation and have consequences, whether they are directly mentioned or not.

For instance:

  • Elle partit seule dans les bois. Or, le loup y rôdait.
    “She went alone through the woods. However, the wolf was lurking around.”

This new information about the wolf is important for what comes next in the story.

2- or can also introduce a new piece of information into reasoning and allow a conclusion to be drawn.

For example:

  • La victime a été étranglée. Or, notre principal suspect est manchot. Donc, il ne peut pas être l’assassin.
    “The victim was strangled. However, our prime suspect is a one-handed man. Therefore, he cannot be the killer.”

Objection ! (“Objection!”)

6. What is Your Purpose?

pour (for; to; so that)

  • Je m’entraîne pour devenir plus fort.
    “I train to grow stronger.”
  • C’est bon pour ta santé.
    “It is good for your health.”
  • Un pour toi et un pour moi.
    “One for you and one for me.”
  • Parle plus fort pour que je t’entende.
    “Speak louder so that I can hear you.”

par (by; out of; with; using)

  • Je te prends par la main.
    “I take you by the hand.”
  • Les fruits sont mangés par des vers.
    “The fruits are eaten by worms.”
  • Il a fait un choix par colère.
    “He made a choice out of anger.”
  • La réunion commence par un discours.
    “The meeting starts with a speech.”

7. Conjunctive What Now?

We’re almost done with our French conjunctions list, but before we can wrap it up, I need to tell you about “that.” Indeed, the French conjunction que (that) is so ubiquitous that I can’t stress enough how useful and important it is!

First, let’s have a look at its raw form, and then you’ll see how it combines with nearly half of the words from the French dictionary to create as many expressions. It’s quite similar to how phrasal verbs operate in English, but much simpler.

que (that)

  • Tu penses qu’il va pleuvoir?
    “Do you think that it will rain?”
  • Je sais que tu es là.
    “I know that you are here.”

/!\ In English, you could omit “that” and say “Do you think it will rain?” or “I know you are here.” However, in French, you can never leave it out. The sentences above without que would not be grammatically correct.

You’ll also use que to compare two things. For example:

  • Je bois plus de bière que d’eau.
    “I drink more beer than water.”
  • La bière n’est pas aussi chère que le vin.
    “Beer is not as expensive as wine.”

If you’re doubling up on conditions, you have to use que before the second condition:

  • Comme je suis fatigué et que j’ai mal aux pieds, je ne vais pas à la gym ce soir.
    “Since I’m tired and my feet hurt, I’m not going to the gym tonight.”

And if you’re not convinced yet, here’s a short list of the most common expressions including que. I can’t list them all here, but believe me, there are many.

Let’s talk about love, for a change!

Book with Pages Making a Heart

Give some love to your French grammar book!

French conjunctions chart about love:

Dès que “As soon as” Dès que je t’ai rencontrée, je suis tombé amoureux.
“As soon as I met you, I fell in love.”
Depuis que “Since” Depuis que je te connais, je ne suis plus le même.
“Since I’ve known you, I’m not the same man.”
Jusqu’à ce que “Until” Jusqu’à ce que la mort nous sépare.
“Until death do us part.”
Afin que “So that” Elle travaille dur afin qu’il ne manque de rien.
“She works hard so that he doesn’t lack anything.”
Pour que “So that” Je ferais tout pour que tu m’aimes.
“I would do anything so that you love me.”
Vu que “Seeing that”
“Since”
“As”
Vu qu’ils vivent ensemble, ils sont devenus très proches.
“As they live together, they have grown very close.”
Tant que “As long as”
“So much as”
Je t’aimerai tant que je vivrai.
“I will love you as long as I live.”
Alors que “While”
“Whereas”
Je ne trouve pas le sommeil alors que je suis épuisé.
“Whereas I’m exhausted, I cannot sleep.”
A moins que “Unless” Quitte-la, à moins que tu l’aimes toujours.
“Leave her, unless you still love her.”
Bien que “Although” Il m’a brisé le coeur, bien que ce ne soit pas la première fois.
“He broke my heart, although this is not the first time.”

           Warm the romantic cockles of your heart with our free vocabulary list on Love! You’ll find many great quotes in French with audio recordings.

8. How Frenchpod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about French conjunctions, from how to list things to causality, conditions, and objection. You should have a much better idea now of French conjunctions and their meanings, as well as how to use a conjunction in French.

Did I forget any important linking words that you know? Do you feel ready to give more meaning to your words and bond with your French friends?

A good French conjunctions practice is to make phrases of your own, using each of them. Don’t hesitate to warm up with easy sentences and gradually add more complexity:

  • Lorsque (when)
  • Lorsque je te vois (when I see you)
  • Lorsque je te vois, mon coeur s’emballe. (When I see you, my heart is racing.)

If you take it easy and go at your own pace, you’ll get used to conjunctions and it will open a whole new world of meaningful sentences.

FrenchPod101 also has tons of vocabulary lists with audio recordings and free resources to boost your studies and keep your French learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. You can practice conjunctions, and more, with your private teacher, using assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples to help improve your pronunciation. Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

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About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

French Etiquette: 7 Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting France

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But what is it they do, now that eating in horizontal position while watching gladiators fight has gone out of style? I must confess I don’t know, just as you may not know what the French are doing in France. Now you may be wondering, “So, what is French etiquette?” Luckily, I can help with that!

French etiquette and table manners aren’t things you can improvise. Dining etiquette, for instance, varies wildly from one country to the next, and French dining etiquette rules have the reputation of being quite rigorous.

To be fair, there are some misconceptions and many exaggerations out there about the importance of social etiquette in France. If you believe everything you read, you probably think we’re still wearing wigs and tights, and that you could go to prison for placing your fork on the wrong side of the plate.

The truth is: It all depends on what you’re doing in France and who you socialize with. French rules of etiquette are obviously not the same in the Kebab joint on the corner of the street as those at the fancy Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée where you can’t enter without a suit and a tie.

In this guide, we’ll simply cover the daily interactions of someone visiting or living in the country: Basic French etiquette. From French restaurant etiquette, to French etiquette rules for public transport, French business etiquette tips, or how to act in the shops. Stick with me and you’ll learn how to behave like a French gentleman with proper French etiquette in no time!

Table of Contents

  1. Around the Table: Etiquette in French Dining
  2. French Etiquette and Manners in Public Places
  3. French Greetings and Etiquette: Greeting People
  4. French Etiquette Tips When Visiting People
  5. French Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for Public Transports
  6. Proper French Etiquette in a Shop
  7. French Etiquette in Business: Conducting Business
  8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

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1. Around the Table: Etiquette in French Dining

Thanks

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to see the French dining étiquette making it first on the list. We do indeed have a lot of table rules: some of them are carefully taught by our parents, others are unspoken and wrongfully considered obvious.

But this isn’t especially a French obsession. Displaying good manners around the table matters all around the world, and France is by no means an exception.

I won’t waste your time on the countless French table etiquette rules that—as subjective as they are—are more about common sense than local customs, such as:

  • Don’t forget to compliment your host on their cooking skills, and if the food is gross, don’t be too vocal about it.
  • Don’t splash sauce all over yourself or the tablecloth.
  • You should refrain from stealing the silverware or sticking your fork in anybody’s eye.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s jump right into our Do’s and Don’ts around the French table!

  • Don’t
    Don’t start eating or drinking before everyone is served.

As trivial as it may sound (even to me, although I was raised by these standards), this one is a big deal!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a burger joint or a many-stars restaurant, with friends, family, or business associates. It’s considered polite to wait until everyone is served before you start eating.

At home, you can speed up the process by serving the people around you. At the restaurant, you should wait until everyone gets their plate before you jump on yours. In a bar, you should wait until everybody’s facing a pint before raising your glass for a toast or a sip.

  • Don’t
    Don’t eat with your mouth open, slurp, or produce lots of noise.

It may sound obvious to many Western cultures, but don’t take it for granted. In Japan, for instance, a country considered to have strict etiquette rules, it’s polite to slurp loudly on your Rāmen (noodle soup) to show that you’re having a good time. However, any other mouth noise is frowned upon. Confusing, right?

In France, when it comes to French etiquette at the table, you should simply refrain from producing any slurping, chewing, gargling, or burping sounds at the table, or really, in any public place.

  • Do
    You should be prepared for a lengthy meal.

French dining is no joke. This is especially true for holidays and special occasions, such as Christmas dinner or birthday parties. But many casual meals with friends or a simple lunch with coworkers can easily escalate to a never-ending food-fest and drag on until the middle of the afternoon.

French meals are slow to start and even slower to finish. Before you get to the starters, you may rinse your throat with the apéritif (appetizer): often a glass of wine or liquor, such as Pastis or Ricard, with some kind of snack (peanuts, smoked ham, olives, you name it). And before you’re excused from the table, there will be a LOT of talking.

Unless you’re with close friends on a casual event, it’s usually considered rude to leave the table before the meal ends. Of course, if you have a reasonable excuse to do so, nobody will throw rocks at you, but it’s generally better not to be in a rush.

Friends Giving a Toast

Santé ! (“Cheers!”)

One more thing before we move on. If you’ve read any other guide about French dining etiquette, you must be wondering: But what about touching the cheese with my fingers, keeping my hands on the table, serving women first, or wiping the sauce with bread?

Well… Many authors seem to be living in the 19th century and will shower you with strict instructions that only apply to high-end restaurants or a presidential dinner in Versailles. They fail to mention that most of these rules are way too uptight for a meal with friends or even a business lunch.

However, if you’re interested in learning more about the subtleties of French dining etiquette, there’s a great number of books to pick from!

2. French Etiquette and Manners in Public Places

Hygiene

A lot of your time in France is likely to be spent in public places of all sorts: avenues, parks, squares, and halls. Let’s see how to behave without attracting unwanted attention or angry stares.

  • Don’t
    Don’t sniffle your snot repeatedly, just blow your nose.

/!\ If you get grossed out just reading about snot, I suggest that you just skip to the next section.

Whether it’s healthier to blow your nose in a tissue or to sniff hard and spit it out is still debated, and just like everything related to body fluids and germs, it’s really important to get it right when traveling abroad.

In many countries, blowing your nose is considered rude and disgusting, and there’s usually nothing wrong with sniffling as much as it takes to keep it inside.

In France, however, you’ll find that many people get irritated if you continue to sniffle your snot when you have a runny nose. And I can relate. The sound just gets on my nerves and makes me want to scream “Just blow your freaking nose already!”

However, this doesn’t mean that you should blow your nose right at the dinner table. That would be bad etiquette.

Wiping your nose with a tissue is fine, but if you need more relief, just excuse yourself for a moment and find a private corner or move a few steps away and blow it quietly. Your friends will usually prefer one short blow to a sniffling concerto.

Woman Blowing Her Nose

Elle se mouche. (“She’s blowing her nose.”)

  • Do
    You should be quiet and keep your voice down.

This is a good example of French etiquette and customs I had always taken for granted until I visited South America. Until then, I had only been in countries where it’s considered polite to speak quietly and refrain from yelling, shouting, or laughing out loud.

You can imagine the cultural shock of coming to a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to loudly express your emotions and where the noise level in the street is often much higher than in my home country. Just as it’s shocking to the French if you break this rule in their streets by being too loud.

It’s good French manners and etiquette to keep your voice down, not to a whisper, but to what we consider a reasonable level. Look around you when you’re outside, follow your friends’ lead, and you’ll get it right.

  • Do
    You can kiss and hug in public (within reason!).

The French are known for being very relaxed about public displays of affection. It’s common to see people kiss, hold hands, hug, or cuddle in the street or on the bus, and nobody will mind if you get tender with your lover in a public place. That makes it easy to practice your French kiss skills!

Be careful, however: This only applies to kissing, hugging, and innocent stroking. If it gets more physical or erotic, or if there’s any nudity involved, it won’t be considered acceptable anymore (and possibly not legal, either).

Public displays of affection for same-sex couples is still a work in progress. Although the country is reasonably progressive in LGBT rights, two men or women kissing in public could still raise some eyebrows from the older or more conservative fringe of the population, especially outside of big cities.

Couple in the Shower

Think Green, turn off the shower!

3. French Greetings and Etiquette: Greeting People

When it comes to French etiquette, greetings in France can be a confusing or stressful experience if you’re not prepared for our typical air-kissing technique: La bise. I have covered it extensively in another article on How to Say Hi. Check it out to learn the ins and outs of this oh-so-French custom.

  • Do
    You should greet everyone when you join a group.

When you join a group of French, it’s considered good French social etiquette to say “Hello” to everyone, and introduce yourself (simply stating your name is often enough), to whomever you haven’t met before.

At a business meeting, shake hands with everyone present when arriving and leaving. The French handshake is brief—one up and down movement—with a firm grip and eye-contact.

With friends and acquaintances, a handshake is the most popular greeting among men, and kissing on the cheek is common between women or between men and women.

  • Don’t
    Don’t overuse the formal Monsieur and Madame.

You’ve probably read somewhere that the proper way to greet someone is to use Bonjour (Hello) with either Monsieur (Sir) or Madame (Madam). This is true if you want to explicitly express respect toward the other person, but with friends or coworkers of the same rank, you could sound stiff or overly formal.

There’s generally nothing wrong with using Monsieur or Madame when addressing shops’ or restaurants’ staff, but I usually find it too solemn for my taste.

Mademoiselle (Miss) has an old-fashioned ring to it and has lost a lot of its appeal after it started being overused in cheap pickup lines. I believe if someone is young enough to be called Mademoiselle, you don’t need to be formal and use the title. And if you want to use it with galant intentions, you’ve been warned!

4. French Etiquette Tips When Visiting People

A person’s home is their castle, and when invited to your friend’s or colleague’s, it’s best to avoid missteps.

  • Do
    You should bring a small gift to your host.

When invited for dinner, it’s polite to thank your host with a gift of some sort. There’s no strict rule on what you should bring, but for formal occasions, flowers or a bottle of wine are safe bets. In more casual company, wine works just as well as any liquor or delicacy (chocolates, an interesting appetizer).

Among friends, it’s common in France to make the meal a collaborative experience: someone brings the starters, others are in charge of the main, dessert, wine, appetizer, or cheese. Coordination is crucial. Double-check what you should bring so you don’t end up with a triple ration of cheese but no wine.

Man Giving Woman Flowers

You don’t actually have to kneel when offering flowers to your host!

  • Don’t
    Don’t be late or leave them hanging.

Punctuality is highly appreciated in France, especially in business, but also among friends. When invited for dinner, it’s fine to show up slightly later than the set time. But in any other situation, you should do your best to be right on time.

If you’re running late or have to cancel, always inform your friends and don’t leave them hanging, waiting for you to show up. Even if you’re only one person among many, it’s polite to inform at least your host or the event organizer if you’re not going to make it on time, or at all.

5. French Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for Public Transports

If you’re visiting France as a tourist, there’s a good chance you’ll spend some of your time in public transports. All the rules about behavior in public places apply, but here are a few other recommendations to make everything smoothly polite.

  • Do
    You should wait in line when buying tickets or boarding.

This one actually applies to any line of people waiting for something, whether you’re waiting for your train tickets, your lunch, or your baguette. Be respectful to people around you and wait in line for your turn.

If you’re in a serious rush, you could ask them politely if they mind you taking over, but you should accept their decision if they refuse.

When boarding your train or bus, don’t act like you’re in a barbaric mob – quietly wait in line by the doors. During rush hours, things could get messy, especially when the subway gets cramped, and some will try to take over so they don’t have to wait for the next train. But most of them will wait in a somewhat orderly line anyway.

  • Don’t
    Don’t listen to your music on speakers or have loud phone conversations.

Remember when I mentioned that you should stay quiet and avoid yelling or shouting? Let’s add some more transport-specific rules of savoir-vivre (good manners).

If you want a soundtrack to make your ride more entertaining, you should keep it to yourself by using headphones. Playing music on your phone’s speaker or giant boombox is considered tasteless and rude.

As for loud conversations, you’ll get a pass if you’re among friends, having a lively conversation. But when talking on the phone, you’re expected to keep your voice down as most people feel like they don’t need the details of your personal life.

People Sleeping on the Metro

Shhh…don’t wake them up.

  • Do
    You should give your seat to grandma.

On the city bus, tramway, or metro, where seats aren’t assigned, it’s polite and considerate to leave your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

Most public transports have priority seats dedicated to them, but you should be ready to offer them any other seat, regardless of how it’s labeled. However, you’re free to use any priority seat as long as they’re not taken. When doing so, just be extra aware of your surroundings and be ready to offer it to someone in need.

    → Check out our vocabulary list on the Train or Bus Station to learn more vocabulary for your rides in public transports.

6. Proper French Etiquette in a Shop

Bad Phrases

  • Do
    You should greet the staff and treat them well.

To understand how to properly interact with staff from any shop, restaurant, or administration, you have to know that France doesn’t live by the British-American rule of “The customer is always right.” In France, the client is a guest in the shop, and it’s often more important to the clerk to be treated with respect than to make the sale.

It’s hard to stress how important it is to understand this shift of power when interacting with sellers or waiters, especially when coming from the U.S. or the U.K., where client-staff interactions are handled in a wildly different manner.

In a nutshell: Politely greet them, smile, and treat them well. I’m not saying that you should be obsequious or overly submissive. Just treat them like human beings and acknowledge that they deserve respect for providing a service.

  • Don’t
    Don’t bargain or discuss the prices.

This one is a no-brainer. Unless you’re buying fake Ray-Bans on a Sunday market, prices aren’t up for discussion and bargaining is just not a thing in France.

In most cases, prices are clearly displayed in shops to spare you the need to ask for them. And if you’re not happy with them, it’s more polite to walk away and compare your options than to start arguing with the employees.

Store Clerk Writing

Jean-Pierre looks like a nice guy but you don’t want to see him angry…

7. French Etiquette in Business: Conducting Business

Business

  • Don’t
    Don’t use aggressive selling techniques.

There are many countries where it’s fine to jump on your customer as they walk through the door, or start talking numbers as soon as you start a business lunch. However, when it comes to French etiquette, business is supposed to be handled with more tact, and the French don’t respond well to this kind of behavior.

We don’t like to make hasty and impulsive decisions, especially in business. Deals are rarely finalized in the first meeting, and high-pressure sales tactics are likely not to work at all. It may even provoke enough reluctance to just ruin your efforts.

  • Do
    You should embrace criticism and interruptions.

This rule of etiquette in French business might sound a little counterintuitive, but this is what makes it so important!

When presenting your ideas, either in a meeting or in a less formal setting, don’t get upset or frustrated if your colleagues interrupt you to ask questions or give some insight.

Constructive criticism is highly regarded in France, and you should be ready to openly discuss the merits and flaws of your ideas. This is how your coworkers show their interest.

Hectic Business Meeting

Just keep your cool, you’re on the same team!

8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned the Do’s and Don’ts for a wide range of daily life situations, from French meal etiquette to manners in the office, the street, or the train. Get familiar with these social norms and you’ll become more confident, knowing that you’re behaving respectfully, without being afraid of rude mishaps.

Did I forget any important situations? Do you feel ready to amaze your friends with your impeccable savoir-vivre (good manners), using everything you’ve learned today?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to revisit the words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice your knowledge about French cultural norms with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with the pronunciation of important phrases.

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About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

Épiphanie: Celebration of Epiphany in France

Each year, France celebrates the Épiphanie the French way, with lots of great food. In this article, you’ll learn about French Epiphany customs and more facts about the Christian Feast of the Epiphany.

At FrenchPod101.com, it’s our goal to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative—starting with this article!

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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1. What is Epiphany Day?

Epiphany (Épiphanie) is a Christian feast that celebrates the visit of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus. However, this feast takes root in pagan celebrations. The word “Epiphany” comes from Greek, and it means “appearance.”

For the Greeks, the epiphanes were gods who made themselves visible to men. To honor them, they observed the Feast of the Twelve Epiphany Gods, who were also called the twelve Olympians. Epiphany also symbolizes the manifestation of light, as the days start to get significantly longer from this day on.

For Christians, Epiphany celebrates the encounter of the three Magi Kings, Gaspard, Melchior, and Balthazar, with the Son of God, Jesus.

2. Date of Epiphany in France

The Magi

Although Epiphany officially falls on January 6, not being a national holiday in France, it falls every year on the second Sunday after Christmas, which is the first Sunday of January.

3. How is Epiphany Celebrated in France?

Epiphany Cake

Celebrating Epiphany Day in France means lots of galette des Rois (“king cake” or “Epiphany cake”)! This is the number-one celebration for Epiphany in France. The name derives from the French words for “Magi” and “king,” which are rois mages and roi, respectively.

The galette des Rois is a round-shaped cake that symbolizes the sun, and that people eat with their family and among friends. According to tradition, king cakes are cut into as many pieces as there are guests, plus one. The latter piece, called the “Good Lord’s Piece,” the “Virgin’s Piece,” or the “Poor Man’s Piece,” was meant for the first poor man who would come to the house.

There are different sorts of galettes des Rois in France. In the North of France, it takes the form of a puff pastry cake that can be eaten with jam or filled with marzipan, chocolate, or even fruit. In the South of France, it’s a brioche with preserved fruits in the shape of a crown. The most famous galette, and the best-selling galette in France, is the one made of puff pastry filled with marzipan.

What’s special about the galette des Rois is that it contains a lucky charm, a little figurine. There are two kinds. Every year, bakeries offer a series of charms based on the same theme. For example, there are figurines representing a French celebrity. The fève, or “lucky charm,” is hidden in the galette, and the person who finds it in their piece becomes a king (roi) or queen (reine) for the day. Traditionally, before eating it, the youngest child in the family would hide under the table and designate which person would get each piece of the galette, and thereby tirer les rois, or “choose the king.”

In France, there are those who collect these charms from galettes des Rois. They’re called fabophiles. They look for rare charms in garage sales, antique markets, and even on the Internet. Some figurines can even cost up to 2,000 euros!

4. Special Epiphany Cake for the President

Do you know what’s special about the galette des Rois made for the President of the French Republic?

For the French President, master pastry chefs make a galette without a charm, so he can’t be crowned. This tradition dates to 1975 when President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was given a giant galette measuring one meter in diameter.

5. Essential French Vocabulary for Epiphany

A Figurine

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words we went over in this article? Here’s the must-know vocabulary for Epiphany in France!

  • Reine — “Queen”
  • Roi — “King”
  • Épiphanie — “Epiphany”
  • Frangipane — “Frangipane”
  • Figurine — “Figurine”
  • Galette des Rois — “Epiphany cake”
  • Couronne — “Crown”
  • Tirer les rois — “Choose the king”
  • Fève — “Lucky charm”
  • Rois mages — “Magi”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Epiphany vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the celebration of Epiphany in France with us!

Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, are traditions similar or very different from those in France? Let us know in the comments; we look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about French culture, or want some wintery words up your sleeve to get you through the next couple of months, you may find the following pages useful:

Learning French doesn’t have to be overwhelming or boring. With FrenchPod101.com, it can even be fun! French is a lovely language accompanied by a unique and colorful culture—don’t miss out on a perfect opportunity to start learning today.

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Happy French learning! 🙂

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