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Apologize in French: How to Say Sorry in French


“An apology is the super glue of life. It can repair just about anything.” (Lynn Johnston)

Whatever our reasons are, it’s never easy nor pleasant to apologize. Even in our native language where we can express all the subtleties needed to tone things down and smooth off the rough edges, “Sorry” still seems to be the hardest word.

Now, imagine you have to offer your apologies in another language, like French. Would you know how to say “sorry” in French? Of course, you won’t want to risk any further mishap or an unfortunate choice of words that could put you in a tougher spot.

Learning how to say “sorry” in French will not only help you go through delicate situations when you’ve made a mistake or behaved poorly. It will also provide you with a collection of ready-made formulas that you can use as a polite lubricant in everyday interactions. Without further ado, let’s take a look at how to tell someone you’re sorry in basic French. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your French Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

  1. The 3 Most Important Words
  2. Take Responsibility
  3. Sorry Gestures
  4. How to Accept an Apology
  5. Make it Official
  6. French Culture of Apologies
  7. How Frenchpod101 Can Help You Learn More about Apologizing

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Man Saying Sorry

1. The 3 Most Important Words

When it comes to learning how to say “sorry” in French, vocabulary is, of course, a huge player. Although they can take many different forms, apologies in France mainly come down to only three words:

  • Excuse (“Apology”)
  • Désolé (“Sorry”)
  • Pardon (“Pardon”)

Once you start practicing their variations, outlined below, you’ll quickly get the hang of it. As you’ll see, there are variations for saying a formal apology in French, as well as casual variations.

1- S’excuser (“To apologize”)

Here are Casual and Formal variants of “Excuse me” with their literal translations:

Casual “Excuse me” Formal “Excuse me”
Je m’excuse. (“I excuse myself.”)

Je m’excuse. (“I excuse myself.”)
Excuse-moi. (“Excuse me.”) Excusez-moi. (“Excuse me.”)
Veuillez m’excuser. (“Please, excuse me.”)
Toutes mes excuses. (“All my apologies.”)
Je vous présente mes excuses. (“I present you my apologies.”)

Je m’excuse (“I excuse myself”) may sound weird once literally translated, but this is the most popular way to say that you’re sorry. In French, it doesn’t actually sound like you’re asking for forgiveness and forgiving yourself in the same sentence!

2- Pardonner (“To forgive”)

Here are Casual and Formal variants of “Forgive me” with their literal translations.

Casual “Forgive me” Formal “Forgive me”
Pardon. (“Forgiveness.”) Pardonne-moi. (“Forgive me.”)
Je te demande pardon. (“I ask for your forgiveness.”) Pardon. (“Forgiveness.”)
Pardonnez-moi. (“Forgive me.”) Je vous demande pardon. (“I ask for your forgiveness.”)

How to use it:

Sentences with S’excuser (“to apologize”) or Pardonner (“to forgive”) can all be used to express that you’re sorry about your actions or the situation.

For example: If you accidentally bump into someone and spill their coffee, you could say: Oh, toutes mes excuses ! or Je vous demande pardon !

Excuse-moi and Excusez-moi are two common polite formulas that you can use in everyday situations, just as their English counterpart, “Excuse me.”

Pardon (“forgiveness”) works just as well for casual or formal encounters.

For example: You want to reach for your cheese in the fridge and someone you don’t know is standing in the way. You could say: Excusez-moi to catch his attention.

With a friend, you would use the casual Excuse-moi for the same result.

In both cases, you could also say: Pardon (“forgiveness”).

3- Être désolé (“To be sorry”)

Last but not least, Désolé (“Sorry”) is another cornerstone of the French apologies and works for casual and formal situations.

  • Désolé [Male] / Désolée [Female] (“Sorry”)
  • Je suis désolé(e) (“I am sorry”)

Now, depending on the gravity of the situation, you may not want to sound overly laid-back when saying “I’m sorry” in French. Here are some ways to emphasize your apologies along with how to combine that apology with Désolé.

  • Vraiment (“Really”) — Je suis vraiment désolé. (“I am really sorry.”)
  • Sincèrement (“Sincerely”) — Je suis sincèrement désolé. (“I am sincerely sorry.”)
  • Réellement (“Truly”) — Je suis réellement désolé. (“I am truly sorry.”)
  • Tellement (“So”) — Je suis tellement désolé. (“I am so sorry.”)

On the other hand, if the incident is so trivial that it doesn’t even deserve Désolé, you might want to go for our super-casual Oups (“Oops”).

Not sure when you should say “Sorry?” Have a look at our list of phrases to say when you are angry on FrenchPod101. If you hear some of these directed at you, there’s a good chance you might want to apologize for something!

Not Sure To Say Sorry

2. Take Responsibility

3 Ways To Say Sorry

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s see how to go a step further. If you ask for forgiveness, you may want to accept the blame and acknowledge that you’re guilty of your bad deeds. Here’s how:

  • Je regrette. (“I regret.”)
  • Je suis navré. (“I’m sorry.”)
  • C’est ma faute. (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Je ne le ferai plus. (“I won’t do it again.”)
  • Je n’aurais pas dû dire ça. (“I should not have said that.”)
  • Comment puis-je me faire pardonner ? (“How can I be forgiven?”)

In an informal setting, you could use a bit of slang (with care, as both of these terms are very familiar):

  • J’ai merdé. (“I’ve messed up.”)
  • J’ai déconné. (“I’ve screwed up.”)

You can find more examples and useful phrases on our list of Common ways to say Sorry, as well as an audio recording to practice your accent.

3. Sorry Gestures

When working on your apology in learning French, gestures are an important aspect to consider. Although there’s no ‘official’ gesture to express that you’re sorry or to ask for forgiveness, having your body language in line with your words never hurts. In France, here are a few gestures to pick up:

  • Hold your hands up, as if you’re held at gunpoint.
  • Place one hand over your heart.
  • Open your hands in front of your hips, palms up or down.
  • Slightly extend one hand, palm up, toward the other person.
  • Hold your hands together perpendicularly in front of you.

Remember to look at the other person in the eyes while apologizing. Keeping eye contact inspires trust and evokes a deeper connection. The other person will be more likely to believe in the sincerity of your apologies with a straight and confident look than with shifty eyes.

Eye Contact

4. How to Accept an Apology

Now, what do you do when you’re on the other side of the apology? If you believe in the sincerity of the other person and feel ready to accept their apologies, you need to know how to proceed. And if you’re apologizing to someone, you need to understand what they might say in reply.

In the case of a trivial matter that didn’t really require an apology:

  • C’est rien. (“It’s nothing.”)
  • C’est pas grave. (“It’s nothing serious.”)
  • Pas de soucis. (“No worries.”)

For something more serious, here are a few examples:

  • J’accepte tes excuses. / J’accepte vos excuses. (“I accept your apologies.”)
  • Merci de t’être excusé. / Merci de vous être excusé. (“Thank you for apologizing.”)
  • Ne t’en fais pas. / Ne vous en faites pas. (“Don’t worry.”)
  • Je comprends. (“I understand.”)

5. Make it Official

Saying Sorry

While most situations allow you to show some creativity with your apologies, there are some cases where it’s codified and doesn’t leave much room for improvisation.

1- Condoléances (“Condolences”)

Expressing your condolences is just as socially codified in France as anywhere else in the world. Here are a few examples of condolences sentences that you may want to use, should the need arise:

  • Je vous présente mes sincères condoléances.
    (“I offer you my sincere condolences.”)
  • En ces moments difficiles, je vous apporte tout mon soutien.
    (“During these difficult moments, I offer you my full support.”)
  • Je partage votre douleur et vous adresse mes sincères condoléances.
    (“I feel your pain and offer my sincere condolences.”)

On a personal note, while these are certainly appropriate as a token of respect toward strangers or distant acquaintances, I would recommend something warmer and more personal for your friends.

Unfortunately, there’s no prefabricated formulas for this but you can find some resources in our free vocabulary list for the Day of the Dead.

Pink Roses

2- Professional Apologies

Any company is eventually bound to present apologies, be it toward customers, partners, or investors. Once again, professional apologies are highly codified and are usually expressed with formulas without too much soul.

There’s no strict template but they usually look like these:

  • Veuillez nous excuser de la gêne occasionnée.
    (“Please, excuse us for any inconvenience.”)
  • Je suis au regret de vous informer que ___
    (“I’m sorry to inform you that ___”)
  • Nous vous présentons nos excuses pour ce désagrément.
    (“We offer you our apologies for this inconvenience.”)
  • Je vous prie de nous pardonner pour ___
    (“Please, forgive us for ___”)

6. French Culture of Apologies

We’ve all heard before how the French are rude or insensitive, and especially if you’re coming from a country where the customer-centric approach reigns supreme, you’re bound to miss the exquisite courtesy you’ve been lulled by before coming to France.

1- The French VS The Customers

“And then, he slammed in on the table like an angry French waiter!”

As much as it makes me laugh, it also saddens me a little that my compatriots are mainly famous for their bad manners and rough tempers. And it’s not just waiters; it applies to most of our daily interactions as customers, from the supermarket to the bank, the phone company or the tickets booth in the subway.

Being born and bred in France, it never struck me as a problem or even an oddity. But when I traveled to countries with a strong customer-centric philosophy such as Australia or Japan, I immediately noticed the difference:

  • In Australia, I was being called “Sweetheart” or “Love” by a cashier I was seeing for the first time.
  • In Japan, it seemed to me that the staff would apologize for bringing me the bill, then apologize for taking my money, and apologize again for giving the change back.
  • In France, I consider myself lucky when they look me in the eyes and I’d be shocked if they ever thank me for anything, even more so apologize.

All things considered, this is just a different approach to customer interactions and it shouldn’t be taken as an offensive behavior or a lack of empathy. French professionals are just not as inclined to apologize as in other countries.

Tables and Chairs

2- The French VS The Feelings

Now, outside of these artificial business constructions, and more generally speaking: Why is it difficult for French people to apologize?

To understand this, you need to consider the balance between “Reason” and “Feelings.” It varies wildly from one culture to the next and to keep it simple, let’s say that the French tend to overvalue rationality at the expense of their emotional landscape.

As I mentioned in another article, our body language is more restrained, our gestures aren’t as exuberant as those in North America, and our intonation isn’t as loud and assertive as those in Latin America.

Being rational creatures, the French are less likely to apologize for what they might see as “wrong reasons.” One such reason being to calm someone down or to alleviate their resentment.

We tend to think that it’s more important to be right than kind and won’t apologize unless we sincerely believe that we’ve done or said something wrong. On one hand, it’s a positive trait, as we keep things straight and honest. On the other hand, this isn’t the best way to handle emotional people who care more about their connection with you than your quest for the truth.

“Apologizing does not always mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.” (Mark Matthews)

How Frenchpod101 Can Help You Learn More about Apologizing

In this guide, you’ve learned how to say “sorry” in French, as well as when you want to make amends for your bad deeds or in everyday situations as polite formulas. We’ve also seen how to take the blame and recognize our fault.

Do you have anything you need to apologize for? Don’t wait any longer and offer a heartbreaking apology using what you’ve learned today!

A good exercise is to write an apology about an imaginary blunder, trying to combine the different sentences that we’ve seen. Also make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and vocabulary!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching and have your private teacher answer any of your questions or give you feedback on your “apology essay!”

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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 French Food & Cuisine: French Gastronomy Day

Have you ever savored traditional French cuisine, paired with some of the best French wine available? You haven’t really lived until you have.

Truly, French cuisine dishes have taken the world by storm, along with the country’s fascinating food culture. It should be no surprise, then, that the French honor this each year on French Gastronomy Day.

In this article, you’ll learn a little bit about French gastronomy history, what food means to the French, and how people like to celebrate! At, we hope to make every aspect of your learning journey both fun and informative—and we think you’ll agree that food is a good place to start!

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1. What is French Gastronomy Day?

First of all, what is French gastronomy?

Gastronomy is the art of making good food. In France, gastronomy may be defined as the art of the table combined with the pleasure of eating. The “French gastronomic meal,” with its rituals and presentation, was listed in 2010 as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. French people do indeed have a typical way of eating and matching food with wine, with a succession of dishes and a specific way of setting the table.

Launched in 2011 by Madame Sylvia Pinel, Minister of Craftsmanship, Commerce and Tourism, Gastronomy Day strives to celebrate the expertise, tradition and innovation of French gastronomy. This holiday has many goals. First of all, to promote French cuisine all over the world, and to make it a matter of tourism. But it also seeks to promote public awareness of the diversity of regions and products, as well as the many careers that have to do with gastronomy.

Do you know about the Michelin Guide? It’s one of the oldest and most famous gastronomic guides in the world. After investigations by inspectors from the Guide, restaurants get stars, which are labels of quality, with three being the highest. France is the country with the second most stars!

2. When is Gastronomy Day?

Gastronomy Day in September

Each year, France celebrates Gastronomy Day during the first week of autumn.

3. Popular Gastronomy Day Celebrations

Every year, a theme is chosen for the holiday in order to vary possibilities. Events such as amateur cooking contests are organized. All regions of France celebrate this event, but it may actually be more popular in other countries than it is in France! Countries such as South Africa, Japan, and Canada have participated in this tasty event.

This holiday is still recent, and isn’t well-known by most French people. However, its success is growing: ninety-eight French departments have celebrated this event and more than 75,000 professionals have participated.

4. Famous French Dishes

Dishes of Different Foods

If you know about French cuisine, can you name three famous French dishes?

French cuisine has numerous different dishes, so there is a wide possibility of choices! For example, the macaron, foie gras, and old-fashioned blanquette de veau are three French dishes that are famous all over the world.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Gastronomy Day in France

Two Glasses of Wine

Here’s some vocabulary you need to know for Gastronomy Day in France!

  • Septembre — “September”
  • Vin — “Wine”
  • Repas — “Meal”
  • Quatrième — “Fourth”
  • Festival — “Festival”
  • Français — “French”
  • Cuisine — “Cuisine”
  • Week-end — “Weekend”
  • Diversité — “Diversity”
  • Thème — “Theme”
  • International — “International”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Gastronomy Day vocabulary list!

How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Become a Master of French Culture

We hope you enjoyed learning about the beauty of French gastronomy with us! Before you go, we have to know: What’s your favorite French food or dish? Your favorite French wine? We look forward to hearing from you!

To continue learning about French culture and the language, explore! We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on a range of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a variety of topics and themes
  • Podcasts to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps to learn French anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you want to really get the most out of your French learning experience, we suggest that you upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own French teacher who will help you develop a personalized learning plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

French is a lovely language, and definitely worth every ounce of effort and determination you’re putting into learning it. Know that it will pay off, and FrenchPod101 will be here to help you on each step of your journey to language mastery.

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French Body Talk: 20 Fun Gestures for Fluency without Words

Have you ever traveled to a foreign country without speaking a word of its language? How can anybody survive in such a predicament? If you’ve ever been in that situation, you already know the answer: body talk and gestures!

Far too often, body gestures are neglected by language teachers and hardly mentioned at all. Nonetheless, learning the specifics of French body language and gestures will help you understand people better and allow you to convey meaning without words.

Once you start learning the gestures and using them in daily interactions with your French friends, you’ll become more comfortable with them and you’ll appear much more fluent than you are! If you already know everything about spoken French, there’s a whole new silent world waiting to be explored. If you’re a beginner, it’s a quick and easy way to communicate.

Some of these may already be familiar to you if you’re coming from a similar culture or a neighbor country. Otherwise, the first time you see locals in a French bar turning their fist at the tip of their nose like they’re trying to unscrew it, you’ll be glad you learned what it means!

And because I couldn’t find any satisfactory illustrations in my image bank, I’ve decided to make it myself and break my vows of anonymity to present you with my overly expressive mug.

Without further ado, here’s a comprehensive list of the most common French gestures to help you communicate with French people with flair. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your French Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Greetings
  2. Positive Gestures
  3. Negative Gestures
  4. Neutral Gestures
  5. Why are the French so Rude?
  6. How FrenchPod101 can Help You Learn Faster

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1. Greetings

1- Bonjour

Meaning: “Hello”
How: Raise a hand and wave by moving it from side to side with a swaying motion.
Where / When: It’s used in informal situations to greet or say goodbye as a substitute for handshakes or kisses, whether you’re out of arm-reach or greeting many people at once. It’s a bit too casual for serious business settings but still acceptable in many other professional settings. This is one of the most common French hand gestures to use.

Bonjour Gesture

2- Bienvenue

Meaning: “Welcome”
How: Open up your arms, spreading them wide with a smile. (Casual)
Open only one arm, with a smile. (Formal)
Where / When: The casual form of this gesture can be used to greet friends or peers in a warm and enthusiastic way. The formal one is common for professional or commercial encounters.

Bienvenue Gesture

3- La bise

Meaning: La bise means “The kiss” in a casual non-romantic way.
It’s a very typical French greeting custom.
How: Lean forward and slightly brush cheeks with the other person while mimicking a kiss (with the sound and lips gesture). Then, switch cheeks and repeat.
Where / When: Well…it’s complicated! Luckily, our complete guide about “How to Say Hello in French” will tell you everything you need to know about the Art of French air-kissing! Essentially this is where you and the person you’re greeting pretend to kiss each others’ cheeks.

4- Se serrer la main

Meaning: To shake hands.
How: French handshakes are brisk and firm, with one or two up-and-down movements while looking the person you’re greeting straight in the eyes.
Where / When: Shaking hands is the most common way to greet friends, colleagues, or strangers in France.

In casual settings, the Afro-American “Check” is growing increasingly popular. For the French, the “Check” is a generational thing, spread through hip-hop and urban culture without any racial aspect. Checks can range from a simple fist bump to a highly choreographed sequence of moves.

To back up your gestures with words, check out our list of Common Ways to say Hello with audio recordings on FrenchPod101.

Hand Gestures

2. Positive Gestures

Here’s a list of French expressions and gestures that tend to have a positive connotation. You’ll be glad you know these next time you’re in France!

1- Oui !

Meaning: “Yes; Excellent!”
How: Make a fist and extend your thumb upward.
Where / When: In France, you can’t go wrong with the all-time classic thumbs-up.
However, beware of the “OK” sign from the U.K. and U.S., where you join your index and thumb to make a circle. In several European countries, including France, it’s a negative sign meaning “Zero” or “Worthless.”

Oui Gesture

2- Ca va être génial !

Meaning: “It’s gonna be great!”
How: Rub your palms together.
Where / When: Although it can mean that you’re cold, depending on the context, rubbing your palms together usually conveys that you’re excited or expecting something amazing. For example, you can use this gesture if you’re expecting to make good money or before eating a gorgeous-looking meal.

Genial Gesture

3- Délicieux !

Meaning: “Delicious!”
How: Kiss the joined tips of your fingers and joyfully spread them outward.
Where / When: Sometimes referred to as “The Italian Chef Kiss,” this gesture is also popular in France, although a bit cliché. You can use it when your French host is serving you a delicious Tartiflette overflowing with cream and melted cheese… Sorry, I got emotional. What were we talking about?

Delicieux Gesture

3. Negative Gestures

Here’s a list of some gestures that are considered rude in French, or simply have a negative connotation. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, after all!

1- Bof

Meaning: “I don’t care; I don’t know; I’m not sure.”
How: Spread your arms open with palms up. Raise and lower your shoulders.
Where / When: With the exception of a croissant holding a baguette, nothing looks more French than the infamous “Gallic shrug,” but because of its many different meanings, it’s not the easiest one to pick up.

It’s commonly used when you’re indifferent, doubtful, or indecisive, but it can express a wide range of messages: “It’s not my fault,” “There is nothing I can do,” “Don’t ask me,” and more.

Note: Halfway between Oui (“Yes”) and Non (“No”), the word Bof is very useful when you don’t want to commit to a straight answer.
Je t’offre un verre ? (“Can I offer you a drink?”)


2- C’est pas mon problème !

Meaning: “Not my problem; Not my fault.”
How: Raise your hands slightly over your shoulders, palms toward the other person, with your head and shoulders defensively held back.
Where / When: This one is similar to the Bof shrug but is perceived as a stronger version where, instead of being indifferent or indecisive, you just don’t want anything to do with whatever you’re asked for.

C'est Pas Mon Probleme Gesture

3- Quelle barbe !

Meaning: “What a drag!”; “Boring!” (or literally: “What a beard!”)
How: Stroke your cheek a few times with the back of your fingers, like you’re caressing your beard.
Where / When: Quelle barbe comes from old Parisian slang and is only one of many beard-related French idioms. It’s used for annoying or boring situations or people, when your immediate environment doesn’t allow for stronger and dirtier curses.

For instance, when you’re given a tedious task at work, you can turn to your coworkers and stroke your imaginary beard.

Quelle Barbe Gesture

4- Mon oeil !

Meaning: “I don’t believe you; I highly doubt that.”
How: Using your index finger, pull down the bottom lid of one eye.
Where / When: This is the French counterpart of the American “My foot!”, to playfully express your disbelief or accuse someone of lying. Due to its childish nature, it’s not the best gesture for serious arguments or business negotiations.

Mon Oeil Gesture

5- J’en ai ras le bol !

Meaning: “I’m fed up; I’ve had enough.” (Literally: “My bowl is full,” but it has a more colorful meaning in French slang.)
How: Swipe your hand up horizontally over your head.
Where / When: Although easily confused with the “over my head” gesture of English speakers, this has a different meaning in France. Combined with an eloquent frown, it’s used to express your annoyance when trouble is piling up all the way up to your head.

J'en Ai Ras Le Bol Gesture

6- Le bras d’honneur

Meaning: “Get lost!”
How: Extend your arm with clenched fingers, palm up, and fold it up in a sudden jerk while slapping your biceps with your other hand.
Where / When: The bras d’honneur (“arm of honor”) is our equivalent of “giving the finger” or “flipping the bird”: an offensive gesture meant to insult and inflame.

While the middle finger was born in Ancient Greece, this variant originated from France, but both share the same phallic connotation and shouldn’t be used in your average mundane diner.

Le Bras D'honneur Gesture

Now that you know all about these gestures, why not complement this knowledge with our lists of Phrases to Use When You are Angry or How to Make Complaints.

4. Neutral Gestures

1- Chut !

Meaning: “Shhh; Keep quiet.”
How: Extend your index finger and place it vertically across your mouth.
Where / When: This one’s self-explanatory and shouldn’t be a shocker to most readers, but as it can take different forms in some countries, it’s worth mentioning!

Chut Gesture

2- Viens !

Meaning: “Come here!”
How: Extend your index finger, palm up, and fold it inward.
It can also be done with all fingers at once.
Where / When: This gesture isn’t as obvious as it seems and should be performed properly. For example, if you use the Japanese “palm down” version in France, it can be interpreted as rude and disrespectful.


3- Comme ci comme ça

Meaning: “So-so; More or less.”
How: Place your hand in front of you, palm down, and tip it from left to right several times.
Where / When: This convenient gesture can be used in formal or casual situations. For instance, if you’re not having a great day, you could use it when someone asks how you’re doing.

Comme ci Comme ca Gesture

4- Oh là là !

Meaning: “Oh no!”; “Wow!”
How: Raise your hand in front of your chest and shake it loosely, as if trying to revive your numb fingers.
Where / When: This oh-so-French gesture can express a wide array of emotions, ranging from surprise to annoyance, distress, or disappointment. You can also use it when you’re impressed or if someone’s in trouble. My advice is to watch as your French friends use it and learn from them.

Oh la la Gesture

5- Avoir un coup dans le nez

Meaning: “To be drunk” (or literally: “To have a drink in the nose”)
How: Place a loose fist around the tip of your nose and rotate it as if trying to unscrew it.
Where / When: This funny gesture can be used to inform your audience that you’re quite drunk, or to raise their awareness of the intoxication of a third party.

Avoir un Coup Dans le Nez

6- C’est pas donné

Meaning: “It’s expensive” (Literally: “It’s not given.”)
How: Rub your thumb against the tips of your index and middle fingers.
Where / When: This informal gesture works in many situations where lots of money is involved. It’s most commonly used for something expensive but can also mean that something is lucrative.

For example, when reading the menu of a pricey restaurant, you could use this gesture toward your friends to express your desire for something more modest.

Fric Gesture

7- Il est fou; Elle est cinglée

Meaning: “He’s crazy; She’s nuts”
How: Tap the side of your head with the tip of your index finger.
Where / When: It’s somewhat similar to the American crazy gesture that would also be understood in France. Obviously, this is a very informal gesture and could be offensive to strangers. Keep it for friends with a sense of humor!

Il Est Fou Elle est Cinglee Gesture

5. Why are the French so Rude?

Well, they’re not, but I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Even though France remains one of the top tourism destinations in the world, some argue that it’s despite its angry mob of locals. How come?

1- Body Language and Perception

Body language matters more than you can imagine, both around the world and in French culture. Before you’ve said a word, your posture and attitude speak volumes and people form an opinion right away based on your gestures as well as the way you stand or how you occupy space in the room.

And when it comes to body language, the French are more controlled than Americans, for example. Their shoulders and arms stay close to the body, their chest straight in overall rigidity. We call it restrain, but some call it being tense or stiff, and it contributes to this impression of the French being cold and unwelcoming.

2- Intonation and Gestures

Whatever space we’re not taking when we move, we compensate for when we talk! We use physical gestures to express a wide range of emotions without words, mostly using our face and hands, and it’s easy to get the wrong impression if you don’t know the language nor the gestures.

The natural French intonation is also widely guilty of this impression. It makes the French sound angry, using sharp or abusive-sounding tones when they’re just having a friendly debate over lunch.

6. How FrenchPod101 can Help You Learn Faster

In this guide, you’ve learned many of the most typical French gestures. Of course, there are many more that you’ll discover when you start meeting locals, or that you might have already heard of. For example, do you know how the French count with their hand?

Do you feel ready to practice these gestures and spice up your conversations in French? Of course, although they make everything smoother and funnier, they work even better when you can comment while gesturing. You’ll always need to learn spoken French!

To get you started, FrenchPod101 has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and vocabulary!

Go even further with MyTeacher for one-on-one guidance tailored to your needs. Practice with your private teacher and learn how to express the wide range of emotions and moods associated with the gestures you’ve learned. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet – How to Improve Your French Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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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 Assumption Day in France

On Assumption Day, France celebrates the rising of Mary, the mother of Jesus, into Heaven. For this reason, it’s often called Assumption of Mary Day.

The Assumption Holy Day reflects the strong Catholic nature of France, being one of the most popular and heavily celebrated holidays in the country. Even non-Catholics like to participate in the fun, often as a final party before the end of summer.

Learn all about The Assumption of Mary Feast Day with, and become more familiar with French culture as a whole. We hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Assumption Day?

Assumption celebrates Jesus’s mother, Mary, rising up to Heaven.

As such, the French also recognize Assumption Day as the name day for those named Mary (the most-given name of the twentieth century in France). Since 1946, this name has been given more than two-million times to little French girls!

But is the Assumption a holy day of obligation? Yes, it is; but if the date happens to fall on a Monday or Saturday of a given year, people are not expected to attend the mass.

2. When is Assumption Day?

Man Holding Bible

The date of Assumption in France holds much historical significance.

In the sixth century, the Byzantine emperor Maurice established the Feast Day of the Virgin Mary in his empire every day on August 15. The holiday was introduced to the West by Pope Theodore in the seventh century, and took the name of Assumption starting the following century.

In 1637, King Louis XIII wanted an heir, so he asked his subjects to make a procession every August 15 in every parish, so that his prayer would be granted. Because King Louis XIII’s request was granted the following year, the holiday on August 15 took on special importance.

3. French Assumption Day Traditions

A Church Building

Every year, religious processions have taken place in certain cities in France. For example, after mass, pilgrims carry a statue of the Virgin Mary in the streets and around the neighborhood. On Assumption Day, Paris hosts a procession that has taken place for a few years, on a boat in the Seine, where the silver statue of the Virgin kept in Notre-Dame is taken out.

Though Assumption is a Catholic holiday, even the non-religious in France celebrate. The most common secular celebrations include fireworks in popular cities and neighborhood dances, most of which are free to attend.

During Assumption, the city of Lourdes experiences its busiest day of the year!

4. The End of Summer…

Assumption Day is often associated with the end of summer and the coming of autumn and winter.

As such, there are many sayings about Assumption Day, such as À la mi-août, adieu les beaux jours (meaning “In mid-August, say goodbye to good weather,” in English) and à la mi-août, l’hiver est en route (meaning “In mid-August, winter is on the way,” in English). Indeed, August 15 also symbolizes a summer well-spent, and the approaching autumn.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Assumption Day in France

Virgin Mary in Stained Glass

Here’s the most important vocabulary you should know to celebrate Assumption Day in France!

  • Église — “Church”
  • Assomption — “Assumption Day”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Assomption — “Assumption”
  • Croyance — “Belief”
  • Dogme — “Dogma”
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate”
  • Festin — “Feast”
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday”
  • Paradis — “Heaven”
  • Vierge Marie — “Virgin Mary”
  • Mort — “Death”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our French Assumption Day vocabulary list! You’ll also find a relevant image with each word to help you remember more effectively!

Conclusion: How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Master French

We hope you enjoyed learning about Assumption Day in France with us! Does your country have an Assumption Day celebration, too? If so, are traditions similar or very different from those in France? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about French culture and the language, explore and take advantage of our fun and effective learning tools! There are many, designed for every type of learner:

If you prefer a one-on-one approach, complete with a personal learning plan tailored to your needs and goals, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus and begin learning with your own French teacher. Let FrenchPod101 be your constant companion for each step of your language-learning journey!

You can do this. 🙂

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Your Guide to French Texting Slang: MDR, DSL and More

What do kids say these days? The digital culture keeps French learners just as confused as our grandparents when it comes to the newest expressions à la mode.

The good thing is that once you master a few texting codes, you’ll be able to communicate in written French on a daily basis. Sometimes, texting can be so much easier than talking face-to-face!

Table of Contents

  1. French Texting Slang 101: Consonants, Abbreviations, and Sounds
  2. Texting Slang to Agree on a Meeting
  3. Conveying Emotions with French Texting Slang
  4. Slang Etiquette: Being Polite While Texting in French
  5. Debating in Abbreviations
  6. The Daily Texting Slang: Holding Conversations in Abbreviated French
  7. Bonus—The Mystery Emojis
  8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

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1. French Texting Slang 101: Consonants, Abbreviations, and Sounds

Let’s start with the basics! Just like in English texting slang, many abbreviations replace syllables or even words with letters and numbers that sound like them.

  • Example: “U” = “You”

In French texting slang, the most current symbols include:

  • 2, symbol for de = “of”
  • G, symbol for J’ai = “I have”
  • C, symbol for C’est = “It is”
  • é, symbol for Est = “is”
  • K, symbol for qu, found in the following abbreviations:
    • Ki, short for Qui = “Who”
    • Kel, short for Quel = “Which”
    • Koi, or Kwa, short for Quoi = “What”
    • Kan, short for Quand = “When”
  • T, symbol for T’es or Tu es = “You are”

2. Texting Slang to Agree on a Meeting

Since organization is one of the main reasons people text, the slang dictionary of expressions related to meetings is particularly rich.

  • 12C4, short for Un de ces quatre = “Someday” or more literally “one of the upcoming days”
  • 2vant, short for Devant = “In front of”
  • Bi1to, short for Bientôt = “Soon”
    • Example: A bientôt = “See you soon!”
  • D100, short for Descend = “Get downstairs”
  • DRR, short for Derrière = “Behind”
  • H24 = “24h/day” or “all the time”
  • RSVP, short for Réservez s’il vous plaît; or RSTP, for Réserve s’il te plaît = “Please confirm your presence, whether you use the tutoiement or the vouvoiement with the person you’re talking with”
  • TDS, short for Tout de suite; or DQP, short for Dès que possible = “ASAP”
  • V1, sort for Viens = “Come on”; “Come on in”; “Join in”

3. Conveying Emotions with French Texting Slang

There are emojis, as well as a fine choice of slang abbreviations, to color the conversation in a pinch. Pick your favorites!

  • 5pa, short for Sympa = “Nice”; “Cool”
    • Example: C 5pa ici = “It’s cool here”
    • NB: C Pas 5pa, short for C’est pas sympa = “That’s not cool”
  • AC2N, short for Assez de haine = “Stop the hate”
  • BLC, short for Je m’en bats les couilles = Literally “I’m beating my balls over this,” basically a rude way to say “I couldn’t care less.” Clearly to be used with caution.
  • CPG, short for C’est pas grave = “INBG” or “It’s no big deal”
  • DSL, short for Désolé = “Sry” or “Sorry”
  • JPP, short for J’en peux plus = “I can’t take this anymore”
  • JSPR, short for J’espère = “I hope so”
  • JTM, short for Je t’aime = “I love you”
  • LStomB, short for Laisse tomber = “WTV” or “Let it go”
  • MDR, short for Mort de rire = “LOL” or literally “Dead from laughter”
  • MSK, short for Miskine = Miskine is an Arabic word for “idiot.” It’s used to convey sympathy or spite.
  • OKLM, short for Au calme = Literally “In a calm place,” it’s used to mean that you’ve found your peace of mind.
  • PTDR, short for Pété de rire = “LMAO”, “ROFL”, or literally “Bursting from laughter”
  • Put1, short of Putain = One of the most famous French swear words; it literally means “Whore” but is used more like “Fuck” in English.
    • Example: Put1 g oublié mes clés! = “Fuck, I forgot my keys!”
    • NB: Obviously, use with caution!
  • MRD, short for Merde = “Shit,” another swear word
    • NB: Again, use with caution!
  • RAF, short for Je n’en ai rien à faire = “I don’t care,” as a rather strong statement
    • Example: RAF 2 T PBS = “I don’t care about your problems!”
    • NB: It could also mean Rien à foutre meaning “I don’t give a fuck.” Use with caution.
  • Snif = “Sob,” which is an onomatopoeia meant to indicate sadness
    • Example: Snif tu peux pas venir à la soirée! = “So sad you can’t come to the party!”
  • TG, short for Ta gueule = “Shut up.” Use with caution.
  • T NRV, short for T’es énervé = “U mad”
    • NB: If your interlocutor uses verlan, a slang that reverses the syllables of words, this could come out as T VNR.
  • TOK, short for T’es OK = “Are u OK”
  • WLLH, short for Wallah = “By God”; “I swear to God”
  • WSH, short for Wesh = “Hey”; “Yo”
  • X, symbol for Bisous (or Bzou in texting slang), or for Je crois = “I believe”
    • Example: Je x ke c bon. OK, XXX
    • “I think it’s all right.” “OK, XOXO”

4. Slang Etiquette: Being Polite While Texting in French

Believe it or not, in French even texting slang has its own etiquette!

We all know how ending a text message with an actual dot can set a completely different tone.
And the French remain attached to manners and politeness in all context. So, don’t neglect the following abbreviations:

  • A+, short for A plus tard = “See you later”, as in “in a while”
  • A tt, short for A tout à l’heure = “See you later”, as in “in a few hours”
    • NB: This is the expression most appropriate to mean “BRB”
  • A2m1, short for A demain = “See you tomorrow”
  • ALP, short for A la prochaine = “See you next time”
  • Bjr, short for Bonjour = “Hello”
  • Bsr, short for Bonsoir = “Good night”
  • CC, short for Coucou = “Hey there”
  • Koi29, or QDN, short for Quoi de neuf = “What’s up”; “What’s new”
    • Bugs Bunny’s famous “What’s up, doc?” became Quoi de neuf, docteur? in the cartoon’s French version.
  • MR6, short for Merci = “Tks”; “Thank you”
  • OKP, short for Occupé = “Busy”; a quick way to let the person you’re talking with know that you can’t answer just now. However, it’s a little short, and not too polite.
  • P2K, short for Pas de quoi; or 2ri1, short for De rien = “Ur welcome”, in response to thanks
  • RE, short for Retour = “I’m back online”; a signal to restart the conversation
  • SLT, short for Salut = “Hi”
  • STP, short for S’il te plaît; SVP, short for S’il vous plaît = “Please,” depending on whether you use the tutoiement or the vouvoiement
  • TKT, short for T’inquiète or, more formally, Ne t’inquiète pas = “Don’t worry”
    • Example: Tkt g géré l’exam = “No worries, I aced the test”

NB: If you really have to be polite while addressing an authority figure of any kind, just avoid slang altogether. And in any case, spelling the whole phrase out is much more pleasant and meaningful!

5. Debating in Abbreviations

Text Abbreviations

Respect Twitter and other forums’ character limits with use of a few useful expressions.

  • 1TRC, short for Intéressé = “Interested”; a way to mark your interest or to signal that you’re following the conversation
  • 1mposibl, short for Impossible = “Impossible”
  • AMHA, short for A mon humble avis = “IMHO” or “In my honest opinion”
  • ASKIP, short for A ce qu’il paraît = “It seems that”
  • Cbi1, CB1, short for C’est bien = “That’s good”
    • NB: Don’t confuse with Cbn, short for Combien = “How many” or “How much”
  • C ça, short for C’est ça = “That’s right”
  • EnTK or EntouK, short for En tout cas = “In any case”
  • Fo, short for Faut or Faux = “Must” or “False”
    • Example: Fo HT du p1 or C pa fo
    • “We must buy more bread” or “That’s not wrong”
  • ID, short for Idée = “Idea”
  • PEH, short for Pour être honnête = “TBH” or “To be honest”; “TBF” or “To be fair”

6. The Daily Texting Slang: Holding Conversations in Abbreviated French

Woman Looking at Phone

Finally, French texters simply abbreviate a large number of words used in daily conversations. Don’t get confused if you come across any of the following:

  • 6né, short for Cinéma = “Cinema”
  • Ac or Av, short for Avec = “With”
  • Auj or Ajdh, short for Aujourd’hui = “Today”
  • Ayé, short for Ca y est = “Done”
  • B1sur, short for Bien sûr = “OFC” or “Of course”
  • BCP, short for Beaucoup = “A lot”
  • CAD, short for C’est à dire = “That is”
  • C cho, short for C’est chaud = “That’s rough”; “That’s intense”; “That won’t be easy”
  • Chuis, short for Je suis = “I am”
  • Cki, short for C’est qui = “Who dis”; “Who is this”
  • CT, short for C’était = “It was”
  • Com dab, short for Comme d’habitude = “As usual”
  • Dacc, Dac, or Dak, short for D’accord = “OK,” or literally “We have an agreement”
  • Dc, short for Donc = “So”
  • GHT, short for J’ai acheté = “I bought”
  • GT, short for J’étais = “I was”
  • Je C, JC, or Je cé short for Je sais = “I know”
    • NB: “IKR” or “I know, right,” would be better translated by a more intense expression: Je céééé = “IKR.”
  • Grave = “Totally”
  • JSP, short for Je ne sais pas = “IDK” or “I don’t know”
    • NB: NSP, short for Ne sait pas = “Does not know”
  • Je vé, JV, short for Je vais = “I am going to”
  • JMS, short for Jamais = “Never”
  • Keske, short for Qu’est-ce que = “What is”
  • Kestufou, short for Qu’est-ce que tu fous = “What the hell are you doing?” Use with caution.
    • Example: Kestufou ça fé 1h quejt’attend! = “What the hell are you doing, I’ve been waiting for you for an hour!”
  • Kwa, short for Quoi = “What”
  • MSG, short for Message = “Message”
  • PB, short for Problème = “Problem”
    • Example: Pas 2 pb = “No problem”
  • PK or PKoi, short for Pourquoi = “Why”
  • QQ or QQ1, short for Quelqu’un = “Someone”
  • RAS, short for Rien à Signaler = “Nothing to report”
  • TJS, short for Toujours = “Always”
  • TLM, short for Tout le monde = “Everyone”
  • Tps, short for Temps = “Time”
  • TT, short for Tout = “All”
  • VRT, short for Vraiment = “Truly”
  • Ya, short for Il y a = “There is”

7. Bonus—The Mystery Emojis

Two People Box Head with Smiley Face

Emojis aren’t always what they seem! You might want to be careful when you send someone a peach or an eggplant.

  • A fire = Sexy
  • A frog + a cup of tea = “Just saying”
  • A new moon = Discomfort; secret; afterthought
  • An owl, symbol for C’est chouette = “That’s cool”
    • NB: Une chouette is French for “an owl”
  • A peach = Someone’s butt
  • A pig = Something kinky, with a sexual connotation

How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

Slang in general—and texting slang in particular—evolves very fast. Don’t forget to add on to this list as you chat with your French friends!

We’ll update this lesson whenever necessary. Who knows what other expressions the younger French generations will make up next?

This lesson is but one of FrenchPod101’s explorations of the various French slang words! In our future articles, we’ll work on oral slang, French TV shows, and regional expressions.

Sign up today to make sure you don’t miss them!

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End of the French Revolution: Bastille Day in France

Each year, the French commemorate the end of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille fortress. Called Bastille Day everywhere but France itself, this holiday is France’s national day and possibly the most significant public holiday in the country.

By learning about Bastille Day, France’s history and culture will become more clear to you. And as any successful language-learner can tell you, studying culture is a step you can’t miss if you hope to master the beautiful French language.

At, we hope to make this learning experience both fun and effective!

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1. What is Bastille Day?

The nation remembers the storming of the Bastille (otherwise known as the Bastille Day attack) on this holiday, which took place in 1789 during the French Revolution. For this reason, the word Bastille is often associated with our national day, though French people never actually call it “Bastille Day.”

1- The Bastille

Bastille was a fortress and an arsenal destined to defend the East of Paris, which later became a prison by the Cardinal Richelieu.

The storming of this structure on July 14, 1789, symbolizes the French Revolution as a major event of the people’s revolt, the initiation of today’s nation. The first edition of the national day in 1790 was named “the federation party” during this era. It represented the reconciliation of the French by the monarchy constitution under Louis XVI.

The federation party was considered a happy ending to the French Revolution, which lasted ten years with the proclamation of the First Republic under Louis XVI.

Napoléon Bonaparte succeeded him with the establishment of the First Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.

2- Bastille Day History

The true origin of the current national holiday is found in the historic facts of the Republic. It took root with two events at the end of the 19th century.

The first one was the official national day on June 30, 1878, to celebrate the Republic. A painting of Monet exposed in the Museum of Orsay redraws this event in the Montorgueil street situated in the second district. The second celebration unfolded itself July 14, 1879; this one was more popular and semi-official to celebrate the revolution of the French people.

These two marking days resulted in a law proposition in 1880 to establish July 14 as the national day. The senate accepted July 14 to represent the storming of the Bastille Fortress, instead of August 4 to honor the end of the feudal system from the Roman Empire and promoting the strength of the lords by their land.

2. When is Bastille Day?

A Cockade

Bastille Day is celebrated in France each year on July 14.

3. Reading Practice: Bastille Day Celebrations

Decorations for Bastille Day

Do you know how France celebrates its national day? Read the French text below to learn about the Bastille Day parades and other traditions. Check your French reading skills with the English translation directly below it!

Chaque année depuis 1880, a lieu un défilé militaire à Paris, en présence du Président de la République. Les militaires sont à pieds, à cheval, en voiture ou dans des avions. Ils descendent l’avenue des Champs Élysées, la place de l’Étoile et vont jusqu’à la place de la Concorde, où ils saluent le président et son gouvernement. Ce défilé attire des milliers de Français. Ceux qui ne peuvent venir le voir à Paris le regardent à la TV. Les deux chaînes françaises qui diffusent cet évènement attirent des millions de téléspectateurs chaque année.

Le soir, les Français peuvent faire la fête puisque des bals sont organisés dans la plupart des villes. Ils ont le choix car différents styles de bals et de musiques sont proposés au sein même d’une seule ville. A Paris, le bal le plus populaire est le bal des Pompiers. Il est organisé dans la caserne même des pompiers et réunit des personnes de tous les âges, toutes les professions.

Le saviez-vous ? La plupart des Français ignorent que le 14 Juillet célèbre deux évènements. En général, ils pensent que c’est en la mémoire de la prise de la Bastille uniquement ! La Fête de la Fédération reste méconnue, même en France.

Every year since 1880, a military parade has taken place in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. The soldiers are on foot, on horseback, in vehicles, or flying in planes. They go down the Champs Élysées boulevard, the Place de l’Étoile, and all the way to Place de la Concorde, where they salute the President and his government. This parade attracts thousands of French people. Those who cannot come to see it in Paris watch it on TV. The two French channels that broadcast this event draw millions of viewers each year.

At night, the French have an opportunity to party, since dances are organized in most cities. They have a choice, as many different styles of dances and music are offered in each city. In Paris, the most popular dance is the Bal des Pompiers. It is organized in the firefighters’ actual firehouse, and brings people together of all ages and professions.

Did you know? Most French people don’t know that July 14 celebrates two events. In general, they think that it only celebrates the taking of the Bastille. The Fête de la Fédération remains little-known, even in France.

4. Fireworks in France!

On the evening of July 14, French people can see fireworks being set off in most cities. This is a tradition that has existed since the creation of this national holiday in 1880. In Paris, the Trocadéro fireworks alone bring together thousands of visitors.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Bastille Day

Depiction of a Noble

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Bastille Day in France!

  • Roi — “King”
  • Fête nationale — “Bastille Day”
  • Révolution française — “French Revolution”
  • Cocarde — “Cockade”
  • Bourgeoisie — “Bourgeoisie”
  • Sans-culottes — “Sans-culottes
  • Révolutionnaire — “Revolutionary”
  • Noblesse — “Nobility”
  • Noble — “Noble”
  • Monarchie — “Monarchy”
  • Guillotine — “Guillotine”
  • Prise de la Bastille — “Storming of the Bastille”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Bastille Day vocabulary list.


We hope you enjoyed learning about Bastille Day and its history with us! Did you learn anything new about France’s national day? What does your country’s national holiday look like? Let us know in the comments! We always look forward to hearing from you.

To continue in your French studies, explore and take advantage of our fun and practical learning tools! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study free French vocabulary lists on a range of topics, and chat with fellow French learners on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also start using our MyTeacher program and learn French one-on-one with a French teacher and more personalized plan.

Learning French is a bold endeavor, and one that you’ll never regret. Know that your hard work and determination will pay off, and you’ll be speaking, writing, and reading French like a native before you know it! FrenchPod101 will be here with you each step of your way there.

Happy Bastille Day!

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The 10 Most Useful Untranslatable French Words

Have you ever had a strange déjà-vu on a rendez-vous with your fiancé? Was it a souvenir or a mirage? Am I using too many French-English words right now? Touché!

While some of these words only made it to the English language because they sound so chic, some words such as Déjà-vu or Mirage have a very specific meaning and can’t be replaced with just one word.

The French language contains many words and expressions that simply cannot be translated without using a complicated sentence. These are French words with no English equivalent. Exploring these words is a fantastic dive into the French culture and learning them will make you sound much more fluent, as only locals usually dare using them! They also may make conversations and foreign programs easier to understand.

I have seen many similar articles repeating the same literary oddities or antiquated quotes of French songs that have never been used in France in the last couple of centuries. Instead, what you’ll find here at FrenchPod101 is a list of genuinely useful and contemporary words that are still used by native speakers on a daily basis.

So let’s get on with it! Here’s our list of the top 10 untranslatable French words.

Table of Contents

  1. Tue-l’amour
  2. Dépaysement
  3. Yaourter
  4. Savoir faire
  5. Bof
  6. Insortable
  7. Voilà
  8. Cartonner
  9. Rebelote
  10. Contresens
  11. Bonus: Ratrucher
  12. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)
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1. Tue-l’amour


[Informal] Something that makes a person stop loving or feeling desire for another one.

A Tue-l’amour usually describes a physical characteristic, a personality trait, or a behavior that’s seen as a turnoff by a partner or as a deal-breaker by a love interest. They’re the kind of things that put you off and make you forget about your romantic or sensual intentions. It can be used seriously or as a joke.

Sa nouvelle coupe de cheveux est un vrai tue-l’amour !
“His new hairstyle is a proper passion killer!”

Un vrai tue-l’amour ! (“A real love-killer!”)

2. Dépaysement

“Un-country-ness” (ugh)

This untranslatable word in French describes the feeling you get when you’re out of your familiar environment or when you change your habits.

There are many shades of Dépaysement, from the pleasant sensation of being far from home, to the disorientation of being unwillingly placed outside of your comfort zone.

While Dépaysement can be used to describe the discomfort of breaking your routine or being homesick, it’s usually a positive feeling and something that people seek. You travel the world in search of Dépaysement, and any change of landscape, climate, or culture can evoke it.

J’aime le Népal car le dépaysement y est total.
“I love Nepal because it’s a complete change of scenery.”

Son nouveau bureau l’a un peu dépaysé.
“His new office left him a little disoriented.”

Check out our free vocabulary list with audio recordings on FrenchPod101 to learn more words about traveling, and practice your accent.

3. Yaourter

“To yogurt”

[Informal] Yaourter or Chanter en yaourt (“To sing in yogurt”) consist of singing by producing sounds and onomatopeias when you don’t know the lyrics or the language of the song.

Made popular by the 1994 movie “Le Péril Jeune,” the verb Yaourter refers to the inarticulate flow of sounds that result from this singing “technique,” that would be the vocal equivalent of yogurt’s texture.

Because the French are often less-than-average in foreign language skills, it’s very common in France to Yaourt your way through karaoke nights with English songs or when we sing the Japanese opening credits of our favorite anime.

This is perhaps one of the most interesting of these untranslatable French words and phrases.

Elle a yaourté de la K-Pop toute la soirée.
“She’s been yogurting K-Pop songs all night long.”

If you’re yogurting with enough passion and confidence, you can fool anyone!

4. Savoir faire

“To know how to make”

A savoir-faire is a specific collection of practical skills and experience used to make a product or to provide a service.

A savoir-faire is more than a set of skills or some theoretical expertise. Unlike other technical knowledges, it’s directly applicable to performing tasks or to fixing problems.

La France est connue pour son savoir-faire en matière de vin.
“France is known to be competent when it comes to wine.”

5. Bof

[No translation]

[Informal] Bof is used to express:

  1. Indecisiveness when you’re not sure whether to say yes or no, and you’re not really excited.
  2. Indifference when talking about something mediocre or uninspiring. The closest English word would be the equally informal “Meh.”

Halfway between Oui (“Yes”) and Non (“No”), the word Bof is very useful when you don’t want to commit to a straight answer.

In its second meaning, it’s a quick way to express your lack of excitement toward something.

A: On va au cinéma demain, tu veux venir ?
B: Bof

A: “We’re going for a movie tomorrow, do you want to come?”
B: Huh…not sure.”

C: Alors, est-ce que le film vous a plu ?
D: Bof bof… c’est pas extraordinaire.

C: “So, did you like the movie?
D: Meh…nothing special.”

The very face of “Bof”

6. Insortable

“That cannot be taken out”

[Informal] Insortable or Pas sortable is told about someone whose bad manners or inappropriate behavior would embarrass you if you were to take them out to a social event.

Insortable (as opposed to Sortable: someone who’s well-behaved enough to be taken out) can be used in a serious statement, but it’s often said as a joke while talking about someone with bad habits or questionable fashion choices.

For example, your friends could humorously accuse you of being Insortable when you spill your drink or lick your plate in a restaurant.

Il est sympa ton copain mais il est vraiment insortable.
“Your boyfriend is nice but he’s really not fit for society.”

7. Voilà

“See there”

Voilà is the grammatical contraction of the imperative Vois là (“See there”). It has various meanings.

  1. It’s mainly used to introduce a person, a thing, or their action that your interlocutor can see or perceive.
  2. Voilà la personne que vous attendiez. (“Here is the person you were waiting for.”)
  3. To mark the imminent or current state of a situation, as in
    Voilà qui est fait. (“Now, that’s done.”)
  4. To highlight things that have been said or explained.
    Voilà la raison. (“Here is the reason.”)

The beauty of Voilà is how it can be used to put an end to a conversation without being rude.

Because of its second and third meanings, it’s the perfect word to signify that you have said what you had to say and there’s nothing more to it. This is especially useful for customer interactions, when you’ve explained something and want to wrap it up, say goodbye, or hang up the phone.

In many cases, a keen and confident Voilà can help end a conversation that’s been dragging on too long.

[At the end of a conversation, when you feel like you’re done.]

  • Voilà. or Voilà voilà [Casual] (“That’s it”)
  • Et voilà (“And there you go”)
  • Enfin… voilà. (“Well…that’s it”)

8. Cartonner

“To cardboard”

[Informal] To be very successful at something, to be a hit.

Although it’s only used figuratively nowadays, the word Cartonner originally comes from the shooting galleries at fun fairs, where the target was often made of cardboard. Thus, Cartonner used to describe the action of successfully hitting the target.

Ce film va cartonner en Europe.
“This movie will be a hit in Europe.”

Il a cartonné à son examen de Français.
“He totally aced his French exam.”

Ça cartonne !
“It rocks!”

A Man Pass the Exam
Il cartonne à son examen !

9. Rebelote

[No translation]

[Informal] The closest translation to Rebelote would be “and then all over again.” It can be used when you repeat the same action or when a given situation happens again.

This word comes from the card game La Belote (widely popular in France) where Belote and Rebelote happen when a player gets the Queen and King in their hand.

Figuratively, it’s used as a familiar way to talk about actions or events that repeat either once or over and over.

Je nettoie tout le matin et rebelote le soir.
“I clean everything in the morning and all over again in the evening.”

Il a plu des cordes hier, et le lendemain : rebelote !
“It was raining buckets yesterday and then again on the next day!”

10. Contresens


When an interpretation isn’t just a misinterpretation, but the opposite of the actual meaning or contains an internal contradiction.

Contresens can also be used in the broader meaning of “nonsense.” Essentially, it’s an error of interpretation or translation that’s not necessarily contrary to the original meaning.

More subjectively, it also describes an absurd action or situation going against “common sense” or “how it should be.”

Cette traduction est un contresens.
“This translation is a severe misinterpretation.”

Vouloir réconcilier écologie et capitalisme est un contresens.
“Trying to reconcile ecology and capitalism is a complete nonsense.”

11. Bonus: Ratrucher

Now that you’ve gone through our list of 10 untranslatable French words, here’s a bonus word that was too good to leave out.

[No translation]

To thoroughly scrape a plate or a dish until there’s nothing left to eat.

Ratrucher is an oddity, as it’s mostly used in my native north of France and is originally from the Picardie region. However, it sounds too funny to be left out of this list, and it’s pretty useful too!

You can do it with a fork, a knife, or a piece of bread, and it’s usually taken as a compliment by the chef.

Elle ratruche toujours son assiette en fin de repas.
“She always thoroughly scrapes her plate clean after a meal.”

Find more vocabulary about food utensils and tableware in our free vocabulary list.

Plate and Fork
Une assiette parfaitement ratruchée. (“A perfectly scraped plate.”)

How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned the most useful untranslatable French words. We truly hope this article helped you tackle some French words that are untranslatable in English.

Did we forget any important expressions? Are you ready to put them to use and sound like a native speaker?

Try and use them with your French friends or contacts and see how they react! Also make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice creating sentences using our untranslatable words with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice.

Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

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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.

How to Introduce Yourself in French — Be Unforgettable!

We all want to make a great, long-lasting first impression. Just moved to France and are eager to make new local friends? Are you traveling and looking for people to practice your French with? Or maybe you’re on the hunt for a job, anxious to outshine the competition?

The beauty of the introduction is that you don’t need to be fluent to come up with a catchy script that you can use in any social occasion, be it professional or casual, in person or in writing. No matter your level of French, if you learn the right tips and tricks, you’ll make people interested and they’ll remember you.

From situational French phrases to talking about your family in French, this complete guide will reveal all the secrets and best lines to introduce yourself in French like a boss and be unforgettable!

Table of Contents

  1. Warm Up With a Greeting!
  2. How to Learn about Each Other
  3. Specific Introduction Lines
  4. How to Leave an Impression
  5. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More about Introducing Yourself

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1. Warm Up with a Greeting!

Before anything else, you want to follow the French etiquette and start with a greeting. That said, let’s go ahead and learn some greetings in French.

1- Bonjour or Salut?

Do you remember our short list of fail-proof greetings? Here’s how we start the conversation:

  • Bonjour (“Hello” or “Good day”) can be used from morning to sundown, in almost any case. Neither too formal nor too relaxed, you cannot go wrong with it.
  • Bonsoir (“Good evening”) is the night-time counterpart of bonjour and can be used professionally as well as with friends.
  • Salut (“Hi”) is the casual bonjour that you use at any time of the day, with friends and peers.

2- Tu or Vous?

French has two forms of “you.” When meeting new people, you’ll always have to figure out which one to use. Don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward!

Vous is for formal encounters and Tu is for more casual interactions. If you meet someone for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll use Vous, unless you’re meeting friends of friends or meeting strangers in an informal context such as a bar or a club.

Here’s a simple summary:

  • Friends, peers, family, kids or teens, animals: Tu
  • Anybody else: Vous (until decided otherwise by both parties)
  • Whenever in doubt: Vous

3- Handshake or La Bise?

Another tricky question: Should you shake hands or use La bise, our typical French custom of kissing on the cheeks?

  • If you’ve used Salut and Tu and you’re greeting someone of the opposite sex, there’s a good chance you could go for La bise.
  • Otherwise or whenever in doubt, go for a firm handshake! Remember that La bise is one of the more casual greetings in French, though common.

Make sure to check out our complete guide about “How to Say Hello in French” for more vocabulary and cultural insight about the subtle art of French greetings!

You can also practice your accent using our list of Common Ways to Say Hello with audio recordings on FrenchPod101.

2. How to Learn about Each Other

Now, let’s have a look at the classic questions and answers that usually come up when you meet someone. You’ll learn not only how to answer these questions and tell about yourself, but also to inquire about the other person and learn more about them.

Most questions have two forms (casual and formal) while most answers simply have one form.

1- What’’s Your Name?

To give your name or ask someone’s in French, we use the verb S’appeler.

Casual “What’s your name?” Formal “What’s your name?”
Comment tu t’appelles ? Comment vous appelez-vous ?
Tu t’appelles comment ?
  • Je m’appelle Bob (“My name is Bob”) literally means: “I call myself Bob.”
    • This is the most common way to state your name. It works in both formal and casual situations.

Next, you can return the question:

Casual “And you?” Formal “And you?”
Et toi ? Et vous ?

When asked back, in a casual situation, you can answer:

  • Moi, c’est Bob. (“I’m Bob.”)

2- Where are You From?

Unless you’ve worked hard on your accent with FrenchPod101, your new friends will most likely guess that you’re not from France and ask you where you’re from. Here’s how:

Casual “Where are you from?” Formal “Where are you from?”
D’où tu viens ?
Tu viens d’où ?
Tu es d’où ?

(“Where are you from?”)

De quel pays tu viens ?
Tu viens de quel pays ?
Tu es de quel pays ?

(“From what country are you from?”)

Tu es de quelle nationalité ?
(“What is your nationality?”)

D’où venez-vous ?
Vous venez d’où ?
Vous êtes d’où ?

(“Where are you from?”)

De quel pays venez-vous ?
Vous venez de quel pays ?
Vous êtes d’où ?

(“From what country are you from?”)

De quelle nationalité êtes-vous ?
Quelle est votre nationalité ?

(“What is your nationality?”)

If you’re from another country, you can answer with any of these:

  • Je viens de Chine. (“I’m coming from China.”)
  • Je suis Chinois. [Male] / Je suis Chinoise. [Female] (“I am Chinese.”)

If you want to state the city where you’re currently living, it would be:

  • Je viens de Paris. (“I’m coming from Paris.”)
  • J’habite à Paris. (“I’m living in Paris.”)

Check out our extensive list of Vocabulary for Nationalities and learn how to state where you’re from. It’s so important to learn useful contextual French phrases like this!

3- What’s Your Profession?

It’s common in France to ask about the other person’s job early in the conversation. It usually comes before what we see as more personal details, such as age, marital status, or family. If your new friend has a cool profession and you can follow-up with more questions, this can also be a great ice-breaker! Here’s what you’ll need to know about talking about your profession in French!

Casual “What is your profession?” Formal “What is your profession?”
Tu fais quoi dans la vie ?
(“What are you doing in life?”)
Tu fais quoi comme travail ?
Tu fais quel métier ?

(“What is your job?”)
Quel est votre métier ?
Quelle est votre profession ?
Quel travail faites-vous ?

(“What is your occupation?”)

Possible answers are:

  • Je suis étudiant(e). (“I’m a student.”)
  • J’étudie la biologie. (“I’m studying biology.”)
  • Je travaille dans l’informatique. (“I’m working in IT.”)
  • Je suis dans la finance. (“I’m working in finance.”)
  • Je suis charpentier. (“I’m a carpenter.”)

A bit of slang: Travail or Métier (“Occupation” or “Profession”) are often replaced in casual conversations with any of these slang alternatives:

  • Boulot; Taf; Job

Find more job names on our list of jobs in French with translations and audio recording. And if you’re a student, you can find another list about School Subjects.

4- Tell Me about Your Family!

This isn’t likely to come up right away when meeting new people, but as you get to know more about them, this conversation topic is perfectly fine. Below you’ll find information on talking about your family in French.

Casual “Tell me about your family.” Formal “Tell me about your family.”
Tu es marié(e) ?
(“Are you married?”)

Tu as des enfants ?
(“Do you have kids?”)

Tu as des frères et soeurs ?
(“Do you have brothers and sisters?”)

Vous êtes marié(e) ?
(“Are you married?”)

Vous avez des enfants ?
(“Do you have kids?”)

Vous avez des frères et soeurs ?
(“Do you have brothers and sisters?”)

Some possible answers are:

  • Oui, je suis marié(e). (“Yes, I’m married.”)
  • Non, je suis célibataire. (“No, I’m single.”)
  • Non, je suis divorcé(e). (“No, I’m divorced.”)
  • J’ai deux enfants. (“I have two kids.”)
  • J’ai un petit frère et une grande soeur. (“I have a little brother and a big sister.”)

Learn more on talking about your family in French with our list of Must-know French Terms for Family Members.

5- How Old are You?

The French are a bit more demanding on politeness than other countries. For instance, it can be seen as rude or insensitive to ask a woman about her age, unless you’re talking to a young girl or woman that would obviously not shy away from the question.

In most cases, it’s absolutely fine, though. Don’t let us scare you with French etiquette! Talking about your age in French really just comes down to the information below.

Casual “How old are you?” Formal “How old are you?”
Tu as quel age ? Quel age avez-vous ?

You can answer with:

  • J’ai 30 ans. (“I’m 30 years old.”)

As you grow older, it’s perfectly acceptable to start lying about your age. 😉

Shake Hands

6- What are Your Hobbies?

Now that we’ve got the mundanities out of the way, let’s share more personal information by talking about our hobbies and passions in French.

Casual “What are your hobbies?” Formal “What are your hobbies?”
C’est quoi tes hobbies / passe-temps?
(“What are your hobbies?”)

Tu fais quoi dans ton temps libre ?
Tu fais quoi pendant tes loisirs ?

(“What do you do with your free time?”)

Quels sont vos hobbies ?
(“What are your hobbies?”)

Que faites-vous de votre temps libre ?
Quels sont vos loisirs ?

(“What do you do with your free time?”)

You could answer virtually anything, but here are some examples:

  • Je joue au tennis. (“I’m playing tennis.”)
  • Je joue du piano. (“I’m playing piano.”)
  • Je passe mes nuits sur HBO. (“I spend my nights on HBO.”)
  • J’écris un journal de voyage. (“I’m writing a travel diary.”)

We have a vocabulary list about hobbies with translations and recordings, as well as a free PDF lesson with even more words for you to learn!

The best way to learn how to pronounce all these introduction sentences? Check our list of 10 Lines You Need for Introducing Yourself and practice your French pronunciation!

3. Specific Introduction Lines

Now that we’ve seen the most common questions and answers, let’s see how to introduce yourself with useful French phrases in more targeted situations with short conversation examples:

1- When You Travel (Meeting Friendly Locals)

  • Tu voyages depuis longtemps ? (“Have you been travelling for a long time?”)
    • Je voyage depuis deux mois. (“I have been travelling for two months.”)
  • Tu as visité quels autres pays ? (“What other countries did you visit?”)
    • Je suis allé(e) en Espagne et en Italie. (“I have been to Spain and Italy.”)

Find more vocabulary and recordings in our Travel and Traveling vocabulary lists.

2- At Work (Meeting Your Coworkers)

  • Tu travailles dans quel service ? (“In which division are you working?”)
    • Je travaille aux ressources humaines. (“I’m working with HR.”)
  • Tu bosses sur quoi en ce moment ? (“What are you working on right now?”)
    • Je viens de commencer un nouveau projet. (“I have just started working on a new project.”)


3- In a Casual Social Event (Meeting Friends, a Date)

  • Tu fais quoi demain soir ? (“What are you doing tomorrow night?”)
    • Je vais au cinéma avec un pote. (“I’m going to a movie with a pal.”)
  • Tu as un copain ? / Tu as une copine ? (“Do you have a boyfriend / girlfriend?”)
    • Non, on a rompu il y a deux semaines. (“No, we broke up two weeks ago.”)

4- Family Meetings (Meeting Your Parents-in-law)

  • Vous vous êtes rencontrés comment ? (“How did you meet?”)
    • J’ai rencontré Julie à l’université. (“I have met Julie at the university.”)
  • Comment tu connais Bastien ? (“How do you know Bastien?”)
    • On travaille ensemble. (“We work together.”)

4. How to Leave an Impression

1- Less is More!

Don’t make it all about yourself. As tempting as it is to talk about your dancing eyebrows talent, snail-watching hobby, or any of your groundbreaking achievements, try to keep it to yourself and keep some mystery alive. When someone asks something about you, you don’t have to divulge a whole chapter of your biography. Just throw some juicy teasers and play hard-to-get. It’ll make you more interesting and appealing.

In the meantime, talking less about yourself will leave you more time to inquire about the other person, ask them questions, and learn more about their culture and passions! Listen to what they have to say; don’t think about what you want to say next.

2- Show Your Interest

When meeting someone for the first time, it’s customary in France to drop a word of appreciation once you’ve learned that person’s name. This can take different forms:

  • Enchanté(e) (“Delighted”) is the easiest and most common.
  • Ravi(e) de vous rencontrer or Heureux / Heureuse de vous rencontrer (“Happy to meet you”)
  • C’est un plaisir de vous rencontrer (“It’s a pleasure to meet you”)
    You can cut it down to Un plaisir de vous rencontrer (“Pleased to meet you”) or even Un plaisir (“A pleasure”).

But there are many other ways to show your interest when you greet in French:

  • Je m’appelle Julie. (“My name is Julie.”)
    • C’est un très joli prénom. (“It’s a really pretty name.”)
  • Je suis photographe. (“I’m a photographer.”)
    • Génial ! Quel genre de photos ? (“Great! What kind of photos?”)
  • J’ai 40 ans. (“I’m 40 years old.”)
    • Vraiment ? Tu fais beaucoup plus jeune. (“Really? You look so much younger.”)

3- Start the Conversation in French

French people love to hear French. This is partly because we’re terrible at foreign languages, but the fact is that even if you only babble a few words of French to your new local friends before switching to English, you’re likely to make a good first impression!

Whatever your level is, even if you’re a complete beginner, our advice is to always start the conversation in French. It doesn’t matter if you only know how to say Bonjour (“Hello”) or Je ne parle pas français. (“I don’t speak French.”). Starting the conversation in French will get you off to a much better start than if you open with English.

5. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More about Introducing Yourself

In this guide, you’ve learned how to introduce yourself in French, from greeting to talking about your job and passions. You’ve also seen how to learn more about them while showing your interest.

Do you feel ready to introduce yourself to your new French friends and make sure nobody ever forgets about you? How would you introduce yourself to your colleague or to a girl you like? And what would you ask?

A good exercise is to write down your presentation and tell as much as you want about you. Following this guide, you already have everything you need to write a great introduction. But if you want to go further, FrenchPod101 has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and vocabulary!

Go further with MyTeacher for one-on-one guidance tailored to your needs. Practice introducing yourself to your private teacher and get personalized feedback and advice!

We hope you learned a lot of practical greetings in French, along with useful contextual French phrases to help you as you start out your travels in France. Best wishes!

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.

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Fête de la Musique: Celebrating World Music Day in France

In France, ninety-seven percent of French people know about Fête de la musique (“World Music Day”)!

On World Make Music Day (or simply Make Music Day), France celebrates music and encourages anyone and everyone to create music, along with many other countries.

This is the most characteristic aspect of World Music Day: It encourages absolutely everyone to do some music; anyone can sing or play an instrument, alone or in a band, in public spaces. Hence the wide range of styles and talents during the Fête de la musique French festivals.

World Music Day in France is a prime example of how a country’s holidays can reveal what its people hold near to their hearts. And any successful language learner can tell you that comprehending a country’s culture is a necessary step in mastering its language. At, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Music Day in France?

Though sometimes referred to as the biggest music festival in France, World Music Day is completely different from a music festival. La fête de la musique, also known as “World Music Day,” is the celebration of music and life through free concerts and presentations, mainly outdoors, on the summer solstice each year. This popular manifestation encourages professional and amateurs alike to play instruments on the streets.

The idea of Music Day first appeared in 1976. It was conceived by the American musician Joel Cohen, who worked at the time for the radio station “Radio France” (France Musique). Back then, Cohen was proposing “Musical Saturnalians” for the two solstices, the winter one on December twenty-first and the summer one on June twenty-first.

After the presidential elections of 1981, Maurice Fleuret adopted the idea, which Jack Lang (then Minister of Culture) put in place. It took place for the first time on June 21, 1982, and was officially declared the following year. Music Day immediately met an increasing success, which has spread to this day well beyond the French borders.

2. When is World Music Day?

Musical Notes on a Page

On June 21, France celebrates World Music Day. This is usually on the date of the summer solstice, the perfect time of year for outdoor music fun! As mentioned earlier, the 21 June France celebration date for this holiday was chosen in 1982.

3. World Music Festival: France’s Celebrations

La fête de la musique (meaning “World Music Day”) is such a fun day. Anywhere you go, music is present. On Music Day, France is home to all types of music styles that are represented by young, talented musicians—from newly created bands to professionals making it their way of life. Concerts are organized with elaborate production, and musicians on their own or in small groups play with their instruments on street corners. Everyone performs for free, just for the pleasure of sharing their art.

People who appreciate the music, but aren’t actually playing, enjoy the day by walking through the yards of castles, schools, and town squares to enjoy the performances. The mature public usually appreciate orchestras, choruses, and operas which take place in scheduled places and times in large towns. The younger generations prefer to dance and party till dawn at programmed concerts offered by the city.

Bars and restaurants take on bands and musicians to attract people inside or on their patio. People can also find music playing in prisons, hospitals, airports, and subways.

French bars and restaurants usually have to close a little after midnight. But on Music Day, they’re allowed to stay open much later to welcome the public. Furthermore, the date of the twenty-first most often corresponds with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Night falls very late, so French people often use this as an excuse to continue celebrations late into the night!

4. Most Common Musical Instruments in France

A Music Festival

Do you know which musical instrument is played the most by French people?

In France, the most played musical instrument is the guitar, closely followed by the piano. But the piano is the instrument that is most taught in music schools, whereas many people play the guitar as amateurs, without a teacher.

5. Vocabulary You Should Know for World Music Day

Woman Playing an Instrument

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Music Day in France!

  • Jazz — “Jazz
  • Rue — “Street”
  • Guitare — “Guitar”
  • Violon — “Violin”
  • Concert — “Concert”
  • Musique rock — “Rock music
  • Batterie — “Drums”
  • Festival — “Festival”
  • Fête de la musique — “Music Day”
  • Groupe — “Band”
  • Jouer — “Play”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Music Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word alongside an audio file of its pronunciation.


Did you know about World Music Day before reading this article? Does your country have elaborate celebrations for Music Day like France does? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the culture in France and the French language, visit us at We provide practical learning tools for every learner to ensure that anyone can master French! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study up with our free French vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow French students on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also begin learning French one-on-one with your own personal teacher through our MyTeacher program.

Learning a new language, and absorbing the culture around it, is no easy task. But it’s well worth the effort and determination you put into it! And FrenchPod101 will be here with you for each step of your journey to mastery.


It’s French Movie Night ! Our Guide of the Best Films for French Learners

It’s your turn to pose on the red carpet ! You may not yet be able to chat with Marion Cotillard or have a drink with Gérard Depardieu. But you can watch the movies that made them famous.

Sounds like the easy way out of homework ? Not quite ! At FrenchPod101, we advocate diving into the pop culture as one of the best ways to master a new language.

  • It’s a unique way to practice your oral comprehension skills, and to get acquainted with the natural French flow.
  • Watching a movie allows you to test your French-learning level in a relaxed environment. It’s much less pressure than trying to chat with a native speaker ! And if you don’t understand something, you can still pause or even add subtitles.
  • You will also expand your cultural horizons and find a new motivation to learn.

No classroom can offer this kind of experience !

Thanks to Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming services, the best movies for learning French are already available online. Whether you like romance, drama, or comedy, FrenchPod101 has the perfect selection for your French movie night. Here are some tips to improve your pronunciation while watching movies in French.

Ways to improve pronunciation

Table of Contents

  1. Oldies but Goldies: Classics to Understand the French Culture
  2. Master the French Sense of Humor
  3. French Movies to Take on a Romantic Blind Date
  4. Our Favorite French Dramas
  5. Bonus – La Belle et La Bête
  6. Conclusion

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1. Oldies but Goldies : Classics to Understand the French Culture

If you’ve ever heard of la Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave), you know you don’t want to miss out on classic French cinema. Here are the most common French vocabulary that you may find in the movies.

Top verbs

1- Jules et Jim (“Jules and Jim”), directed by François Truffaut (1962)

Level : Intermediate

Rebellious Jules and his shy friend Jim both fall in love with the charismatic Catherine. Unbeknownst to them, France is on the brink of World War I.

Director François Truffaut is a legend of French cinema. And young Jeanne Moreau shines in this love triangle story. She delivers one of the film’s most iconic quotes, in the form of a made-up nursing rhyme :

Tu m’as dit “Je t’aime”, je t’ai dit “Attends”
J’allais dire “Prends-moi”, tu m’as dit “Vas t’en”

You told me “I love you”, I told you “wait”.
I was about to say “take me”, you said “go away”.

2- A Bout de Souffle (“Breathless”), directed by Jean-Luc Godard (1960)

Level : Intermediate

Michel, a young rebel on the run, seduces aspiring journalist Patricia, who joins him on his flight to Italy.
This iconic New Wave movie marks Jean-Paul Belmondo’s first breakthrough as an actor.

(SPOILER) Michel’s death scene is the set of a famous dialogue between him, Patricia, and detective Vital. Whether Michel is blaming Patricia or the whole world remains voluntarily ambiguous.

MICHEL: C’est vraiment dégueulasse.
PATRICIA: Qu’est-ce qu’il a dit?
VITAL: Il a dit que vous êtes vraiment “une dégueulasse”.
PATRICIA: Qu’est-ce que c’est “dégueulasse” ?

MICHEL: It’s really gross
PATRICIA: What did he say?
VITAL: He said that you are “really gross”.
PATRICIA: What is it, “gross”?

3- Jean de Florette, directed by Claude Berri (1986)

Level : Advanced

In post-WWI’s rural Provence, Ugolin Soubeyrand (Daniel Auteuil) and his cunning grandfather César (Yves Montand) scheme to trick naive Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) out of a plot of land he just inherited.

But that’s not all—the saga continues ! Manon des Sources stars a young Emmanuelle Béart as Manon, and here, Jean de Florette’s daughter might be the demise of Ugolin.

(SPOILER) Ugolin remains morally ambivalent to the end. After the death of Jean in the first movie, he confesses to César :

“Ce n’est pas moi qui pleure. C’est mes yeux.”
I’m not crying. It’s my eyes.

Both movies are adapted from Provençal writer Marcel Pagnol’s novels. They’re rather easy to read, so check them out to see how the movies compare !

2. Master the French Sense of Humor

Movie genres

This selection is slightly longer than the other genres for two reasons:

  1. Comedies are an obvious favorite for a fun learning experience
  2. Your French friends will be delighted to share these cultural references with you
    Quotes from these movies often pop up in casual conversations, so feel free to take notes !

1- Les Visiteurs (“The Visitors”), directed by Jean-Marie Poiré (1993)

Level : Intermediate

Middle-Age Count of Montmirail (Jean Reno) and his servant Jacquouille la Fripouille (Christian Clavier) are sent to the 20th century by mistake. They discover modern civilization as they try to come back to their own time.

One of the (many) famous quotes is from Jacquouille’s distant descendant Jacquard :

“Qu’est-ce que c’est que ce binz ?!”
What’s all this mess?!

2- Le Père Noël est une Ordure (“Santa Claus is a Stinker”), directed by Jean-Marie Poiré (1979)

Level : Advanced

Two volunteers for a suicide hotline are stuck with the Christmas Eve shift. They start losing control as several distressed people show up at their headquarters.

Basically every quote from this movie is famous. A general favorite remains Thérèse’s assessment, while she tastes a pastry of dubious origins :

“C’est fin, c’est très fin, ça se mange sans faim !”
It’s refined, very refined, you can eat it without hunger!

The movie started as a successful play. Original troupe of actors, Le Splendid, brought it to film, and its members—Thierry Lhermitte, Gérard Jugnot, Christian Clavier, and Josiane Balasko—became iconic French movie stars.

Another classic comedy by the same troupe is Les Bronzés font du ski, directed by Patrice Leconte in 1979.

3- Le Dîner de Cons (“The Dinner Game”), directed by Francis Veber (1998)

Level : Advanced

Snobbish Parisian Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) organizes “idiots’ dinners” with his friends. Each must invite an unknowing “idiot” guest, to be ridiculed by the other guests. After the party, they vote for the “idiot of the evening.”

But things take an unexpected turn when Pierre invites François Pignon (Jacques Villeret), an employee of the Finance Ministry.

One of the best quotes may also give you an idea of the kind of puns to expect. Pierre tells François about one of his friends, named Juste Leblanc.

FRANCOIS : Ah bon, il n’a pas de prénom ?!
PIERRE : Je viens de vous le dire : Juste Leblanc. Votre prénom, c’est François, c’est juste ? Eh bien lui, c’est pareil, c’est Juste.

FRANCOIS: So, he doesn’t have a first name?!
PIERRE: I just told you: Juste Leblanc. Your first name, it’s François, right? Then it’s the same for him, it’s Juste.

As such puns may be difficult to get for French learners, you might want to use the subtitles. We promise it’s worth it !

4- Astérix : Mission Cléopâtre (“Asterix & Obelix : Mission Cleopatra”), directed by Alain Chabat (2002)

Level : Intermediate

Time for more recent movies ! This one is every French Millennial’s favorite. When lovers Cleopatra (Monica Bellucci) and Cesar (Alain Chabat) make a gamble, Gallic heroes Astérix and Obélix (Christian Clavier and Gérard Depardieu) are sent to help Cleopatra’s architect Numérobis (Jamel Debbouze).

The most diligent fans can recall from memory Otis (Edouard Baer)’s lengthy monologue. When Obélix asks him if he’s satisfied with his situation as a scribe, he answers :

“Vous savez, moi je ne crois pas qu’il y ait de bonne ou de mauvaise situation. Moi, si je devais résumer ma vie aujourd’hui avec vous, je dirais que c’est d’abord des rencontres. Des gens qui m’ont tendu la main, peut-être à un moment où je ne pouvais pas, où j’étais seul chez moi. Et c’est assez curieux de se dire que les hasards, les rencontres forgent une destinée… Parce que quand on a le goût de la chose, quand on a le goût de la chose bien faite, le beau geste, parfois on ne trouve pas l’interlocuteur en face, je dirais, le miroir qui vous aide à avancer. Alors ça n’est pas mon cas, comme je disais là, puisque moi au contraire, j’ai pu : et je dis merci à la vie, je lui dis merci, je chante la vie, je danse la vie… Je ne suis qu’amour ! Et finalement, quand beaucoup de gens aujourd’hui me disent « Mais comment fais-tu pour avoir cette humanité ? », et bien je leur réponds très simplement, je leur dis que c’est ce goût de l’amour, ce goût donc qui m’a poussé aujourd’hui à entreprendre une construction mécanique, mais demain, qui sait ? Peut-être simplement à me mettre au service de la communauté, à faire le don, le don de soi…”

You know, I do not think there is a good or bad situation. If I had to summarize my life today with you, I’d say it’s first of all meetings. People who reached out to me, maybe at a time when I could not, where I was alone at home. And it’s quite odd to say that accidents, encounters forge a destiny … Because when you have the taste of the thing, when you have the taste of the thing well done, the beautiful gesture, sometimes we do not do not find the representative, I would say, the mirror that helps you move forward. So that’s not my case, as I said there, since I, on the contrary, I could: and I say thank you to life, I say thank you, I sing life, I dance life … I am only love! And finally, when many people today say to me, “But how do you do to have this humanity? “Well, I tell them very simply, I tell them that it is this taste of love, this taste that pushed me today to undertake a mechanical construction, but tomorrow, who knows? Maybe just to put myself at the service of the community, to make the gift, the gift of oneself …

5- OSS 117 – Le Caire Nid d’Espions (“OSS 117 : Cairo, Nest of Spies”), directed by Michel Hazanavicius (2006)

Level : Intermediate

The French actually have an acute self-mocking sense of humor. If you can’t believe it, watch the adventures of chauvinistic, “typically French” special agent OSS (Jean Dujardin) as he stumbles around 1950’s Cairo. And listen to him declare to an Egyptian ambassador :

“On est en 1955 les gars, faut se réveiller. Les ânes partout, les djellabas, l’écriture illisible, ça va hein ! S’agirait de grandir ! S’agirait de grandir…”

Guys we are in 1955, it’s about time to wake up. Donkeys everywhere, djellabas, unreadable writing, it’s enough! You need to grow up! You need to grow up…

Don’t miss the sequel ! OSS 117 : Rio ne répond plus (OSS 117 : Lost in Rio) gets back to Hubert Bonnisseur de la Bath for a new mission in the 60s.

3. French Movies to Take on a Romantic Blind Date

French cinema takes care of its glamorous reputation ! The French love a romantic story with a quirky twist.

1- Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (“Amélie”), directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001)

Level : Intermediate

Shy waitress Amélie decides to fight her own isolation by transforming the life of her neighbors for the better. She evokes her paradoxical situation with one of her friends, a painter :

AMELIE : Vous savez, la fille au verre d’eau, si elle a l’air un peu à côté, c’est peut-être parce qu’elle est en train de penser à quelqu’un.
RAYMOND : À quelqu’un du tableau ?
AMELIE : Non, plutôt à un garçon qu’elle a croisé ailleurs. Mais elle a l’impression qu’ils sont un peu pareils, elle et lui.
RAYMOND : Autrement dit, elle préfère s’imaginer une relation avec quelqu’un d’absent que de créer des liens avec ceux qui sont présents ?
AMELIE : Non, peut-être même qu’au contraire, elle se met en quatre pour arranger les cafouillages de la vie des autres.
RAYMOND : Mais elle, les cafouillages de la sienne de vie, qui va s’en occuper ?

AMELIE: You know, the girl with the glass of water, if she looks a little lost maybe it’s because she’s thinking of someone.
RAYMOND: To someone on the board?
AMELIE: No, rather to a boy she met elsewhere. But she has the impression that they are a little similar, she and him.
RAYMOND: In other words, she prefers to imagine a relationship with someone who is absent than to create links with those who are present?
AMELIE: No, maybe even on the contrary, she goes out of her way to arrange the mess of the lives of others.
RAYMOND: But she, the mess of his life, who will take care of it?

Bonus : The movie is set in Montmartre, one of Paris’s most charming districts.

2- L’Auberge Espagnole (“Pot Luck”), directed by Cédric Klapisch (2002)

Level : Intermediate

French student and typical Millennial Xavier (Romain Duris) takes advantage of the Erasmus program to spend one year in Barcelona. New roommates and chance encounters will mark his life in unexpected ways.

We get to know Xavier better, through his inner discourse :

“Quand on arrive dans une ville, on voit des rues en perspective, des suites de bâtiments vides de sens. Tout est inconnu, vierge. Voilà, plus tard on aura habité cette ville, on aura marché dans ses rues, on aura été au bout des perspectives, on aura connu ses bâtiments, on y aura vécu des histoires avec des gens. Quand on aura vécu dans cette ville, cette rue on l’aura pris dix, vingt, mille fois. Au bout d’un moment, tout ça vous appartient parce qu’on y a vécu.”

When we arrive in a city, we see streets in perspective, row of buildings empty of meaning. Everything is unknown, virgin. Here we are, we will have lived in this city, we will have walked in its streets, we will have been at the end of the perspectives, we will have known its buildings, we will have lived stories with people. When we have lived in this city, this street will have taken ten, twenty, thousand times. After a while, all of this belongs to you because you lived there.

3- L’Ecume des Jours (“Mood Indigo”), directed by Michel Gondry (2013)

Level : Intermediate

Indie director Michel Gondry delivers a poetic adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel.

Colin (Romain Duris) and Chloe (Audrey Tautou)’s idylle turns sour when a lotus seed starts to grow in Chloe’s lungs.

“Si on rate ce moment, on essaie celui d’après ; et si on échoue, on recommence l’instant suivant, on a toute la vie pour réussir… ”

If we fail at this time, we try another, and if we fail, we start all over again, we have all our life to succeed.

4. Our Favorite French Dramas

While drama doesn’t necessarily mean tragic, these classic movies slip on the dark side.

1- 8 Femmes (“8 Women”), directed by François Ozon (2002)

Level : Intermediate

Eight women of the same family are trapped during a storm, and start suspecting each other when they discover the murder of the family’s patriarch.

This dark musical stars eight of the most prominent French actresses : Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Marie Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier, and Firmine Richard. Each of them gets a musical moment, but the most perceptive one is certainly Marie Darrieux’s final :

“Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux.”

There is no happy love.

2- Les Intouchables (“Untouchables”), directed by Olivier Nakache (2011)

Level : Intermediate

Suicidal, disabled Philippe (François Cluzet) finds a new appreciation for life when he hires Driss (Omar Sy) as his personal nurse.

PHILIPPE, as Driss shaves him : Un petit coup sec, ça me soulagerait.
DRISS : Je vois que c’est la grande forme, ça me fait plaisir !

PHILIPPE, as Driss shaves him: A quick tap, it would relieve me.
DRISS: I see that you’re in great shape, it makes me happy!

3- La Haine, directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (1995)

Level : Intermediate

The fate of three friends (among which is Vincent Cassel) takes a turn for the worst when one of them finds a policeman’s gun.

“C’est l’histoire d’un homme qui tombe d’un immeuble de cinquante étages. Le mec, au fur et à mesure de sa chute, il se répète sans cesse pour se rassurer : jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien, jusqu’ici tout va bien…
Mais l’important, c’est pas la chute. C’est l’atterrissage.”

It’s the story of a man falling from a fifty-story building. The guy, as he falls, he repeats constantly to reassure himself: so far so good, so far so good, so far so good …
But the important thing is not the fall. It’s the landing.

5. Bonus — La Belle et La Bête

A “story old as time” and a Disney classic, The Beauty and the Beast has been remade several times in the past few years. One French version stars Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux in the titular roles. Disney’s live movie revolves around Emma Watson.

But the French’s favorite version will always remain the one directed by Jean Cocteau himself. Get over the release date (1946) and discover a surrealistic masterpiece !

6. Conclusion

After you’ve gone through this list, feel free to come back for more! FrenchPod101 helps you improve your French through pop culture. From movies and TV shows to everyday expressions and the latest slang, FrenchPod101 makes the language come alive for you. Enjoy this opportunity to learn while having fun, and invite your friends to French movie night!

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