Here is the result of a wine induced slight delirium attack, months ago ; I was dreaming of visiting my dear France soon, and ended up trying to summarize the essence of “la langue de Molière”. The following are my own updated translations – and explanations – of a few typical expressions…

  • La France est le nombril de l’univers. France is the center (“belly button”) of our universe.
    (I know, it’s obvious to you, but you’d be shocked if I told you how many Americans ignore that .)
  • Pouvez-vous me dire si les éclairs ont gagné la partie? Could you tell me if the Lightning won the game?
    (Note : maybe using the English name of the team would be better, since translated into “éclairs”, it means a French pastry and might cause some confusion…)
  • On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.
    (From The Little Prince, by Antoine de St-Exupéry. Immortal.)
  • Ne ramène pas ta fraise! Oh, shut up!
    (Word for word, “Don’t bring back your strawberry”. The French like food.)
  • Sans mentir, si votre ramage se rapporte à votre plumage, vous êtes le phœnix des hôtes de ces bois. No lies, if your singing is as pretty as your looks, you are the Vin Diesel of this place.
    (Also equivalent to the shorter : “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?” But the first is actually part of a French La Fontaine poem, so intellectuals will dig it…)
  • Putain de bordel de merde! Sorry, no translation available. Let’s just say you might use that when you just stepped into yet another dog sh** on Les Champs Elysées in Paris.
  • Il pleut à boire debout! It’s raining cats and dogs. If you’re still in Paris, it will wash the sh** off your shoes.
    (Word for word, “One could drink the rain standing up”)
  • Il vente à décorner les taureaux de Camargue! The wind is so strong it could pull the horns off the heads of bulls in Camargue!
    (Camargue is a beautiful reserve in the south where pink flamingos, horses and bulls live in the wild. The people of the south always exaggerate their expressions a bit, o peuchère… )
  • Vos chiottes sont dégueulasses! Your toilets are disgusting, you French pigs!
    (Well, no one’s perfect… Anyway, it’s like ze hypo’, he always wanted to be a zebra…)
  • Ça pue ici! It really stinks in here!
    (Rarely useful since it is considered acceptable to smoke and smell like perspiration almost everywhere in public places.)

Did I mention I unconditionally love France and its inhabitants?