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10 Fun French Idioms

by Hannah Noye

How quickly March has arrived! It feels like 2023 just started yesterday but already we are making headway into the third month of the year. Of course this also means that our French tours later this year are fast approaching. ‘La Belle Vie’ tour starts in June, while ‘A taste of France’ starts in late August. Details for these carefully refined cultural experiences can be found on our website at, and please don’t hesitate to contact us through Instagram or Facebook for bespoke tours!

For those who do make the life enriching decision to travel on one of our tours this year, it is time to start getting excited! In this weeks blog, we are going to do something a little different. We often discuss travel locations or French customs, but this week let’s learn a little more about the French language. Ooh la la!

You know those strange expressions and idioms in English like ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ and ‘to kick the bucket’ and ‘the bees knees?’ Well we are not unique. Other languages have ones that directly translated to our ears would sound utterly bizarre, as ours sound to theirs! Here are 10 of the most interesting French idioms to help you understand the French language and people – or at least to give you a laugh.

1. Faire la grasse matinée – This is a fun one! It means ‘To engage in the fat morning,’ or rather, to sleep in late

2. Mettre la puce à l'oreille This translates directly to ‘put a flea in someone’s ear’ and means making someone suspicious or arousing someone’s suspicion!

3. Avoir le cafard – On a sad note, this in English means ‘to have the cockroach', and means feeling depressed or down - but the cockroach part is funny!

4. Tomber dans les pommes – Translating to ‘To fall in the apples’ this one is used to describe fainting

5. Avoir une araignée au plafond - "To have a spider on the ceiling," this idiom is used when someone is crazy or eccentric – in English we might say someone has ‘bats in the belfry’ or ‘isn’t alright upstairs.’

6. Poser un lapin – ‘To leave a rabbit,’ this one means getting stood up. Not sure what the rabbit has to do with it but its fun nonetheless!

7. Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles - Literally meaning "to have one's butt lined with noodles," this idiom is used to describe someone who is incredibly lucky. I don’t think I’d feel very lucky in such a state.

8. Courir sur le Haricot – Translated this means ‘To run on my bean.’ If someone tells you that you are running on their bean it means that you are getting on their nerves.

9. En faire tout un fromage – ‘To make a big cheese of everything’ or to unnecessarily make a big fuss of something.

10. S'occuper de ses oignons.” This one is my favourite! It literally means ‘to take care of ones onions,’ but translates to minding ones own business.

There are plenty more of these worth reading so let us know if you find any! At any rate, hopefully this will be a good basis for you. Maybe you can throw these into your next conversation with a French person and impress them!

À toute à l'heure!


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