French Lessons


Lessons for topic Vocabulary

Finding the Right Place

The word place is very common in French and poses few problems when it's a direct cognate of the English "place." Other times, however, the meanings diverge, and the word place will translate in a variety of ways depending on context. So, let’s go places and explore the similarities and differences in the use of the word place in this lesson.


As we just mentioned, the word place can be used in a similar way in English and in French in some situations. For example, "a place to stay" is une place d’accueil (literally "a place of welcome"). In the video below, welcome centers around France offer des places d’accueil (places to stay) for refugees:


C'est près de deux cents places d'accueil...

It's nearly two hundred welcoming places...

Caption 35, Réfugiés de Calais L’accueil des migrants en Finistère

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Une place does not only refer to a physical place, but also to a figurative one, like the place where you belong in life. That's a tough question for this lost soul in Yaaz’s sad song "La Place des anges," who muses over an uncertain future and wonders where angels truly belong:


Mais la place des anges n'est pas ici

But the angels' place is not here

Caption 7, Yaaz La place des anges

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Sometimes finding the right place is simply a practical matter. In this well-organized restaurant, the staff is ready to se mettre en place (take their places) before the rush of diners:  


Eh ben, on se met en place et on fait tout ça.

Well then, we'll take our places and we'll do all that.

Caption 76, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

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The expression remettre à sa place, though, is not so kind, as it means to put someone back in their place:


Le patron l’a remis à sa place.

The boss put him back in his place.


So far, we’ve looked at examples of true cognates. Unfortunately, these only work in a limited context, as une place often means something other than “a place.” But it doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, to book a table, a room, seats, or buy concert tickets, just say réserver une place! In the following video, une place means “a ticket” to a concert:


Dix mille places se sont arrachées en deux jours.

Ten thousand tickets were snapped up in two days.

Caption 13, Alsace 20 Rammstein à Strasbourg

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Une place can also refer to the seating capacity or number of seats in a venue:


Mercredi je joue au Sin-é et... C'est trois cents places

On Wednesday I'm performing at Sin-é and... It's three hundred seats.

Caption 9, Charles-Baptiste Interview

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Or to the seating capacity in a car, or even the sleeping capacity in a bed:


On dit un lit à deux places et une voiture à cinq places en français.

We say a double bed and a five-seater car in French.


La place can also simply describe the amount of space available for comfort—in other words, “space” or “room”:


Qu'à tes côtés y a plus de place et que je ne peux pas rester

That there's no room left by your side and that I can't stay

Caption 24, Babylon Circus J'aurais bien voulu

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And when there is not enough place (room) because something or someone takes up too much space, you can use the expression prendre toute la place (to take up all the space), like the naughty cat in this video:


Et en plus, elle prenait... et toi, prenez toute la place dans le lit.

And in addition, she took... and you, [you both] take up all the space in bed.

Captions 27-28, Marie & Jeremy Le chat

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Now that we’ve looked at the various uses of the French word place, let’s look at its English counterpart. Again, you will encounter a variety of translations. When referring to a geographical “place” or location, you can’t use the French place anymore. Instead, use un endroit or un lieu (a place). If that place happens to be your home, or “your place," use chez moi (my place). In their video on Parc de la Villette, Amal and Caroline use all three. First, they talk about un endroit:


Je crois que c'est aussi un endroit assez culturel...

II think it's also a pretty cultural place...

Caption 37, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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Then they use a synonym, un lieu:


Ce qui est vraiment intéressant, c'est que tu as plein de lieux pour faire la fête.

What's really interesting is that you have plenty of places to party.

Captions 53-55, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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And earlier on, one of them mentions how close they are to her place: 


On est même pas à cinq, dix minutes à pied de chez moi.

We're not even five, ten minutes away by foot from my place.

Caption 7, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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(For more information on chez moi, check out our lesson Chez moi, c’est chez toi.)


Just to confuse matters further, your “place” or “home” might be located on une place, "a square." In the video below, Joanna and Caroline invite us to visit la place Stanislas (Stanislas Square). Note that there is no need to capitalize place in an address:


On a décidé de vous faire visiter la place Stanislas.

We've decided to show you around Stanislas Square.

Caption 4, Joanna La Place Stanislas

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Instead of visiter une place, you may prefer to rester sur place (to stay/remain on site). These refugees are fortunate in that they can stay in the same spot for a few months:


Ces groupes devraient rester quelques mois sur place

These groups should stay on site for a few months

Caption 37, Réfugiés de Calais L’accueil des migrants en Finistère

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Or you may seek another kind of place that has nothing to do with location. Une place can also be "a position” or “a job"—whether an everyday occupation or the prestigious position of honorary president of the Cannes Film Festival:


Madame de Havilland... on vous a proposé en tout cas pour la place de présidente d'honneur à vie de ce festival.

Ms. de Havilland... you were nominated in any case for the position of honorary president of this festival [jury] for life.

Captions 31-33, Interviews au Festival de Cannes Olivia de Havilland

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La place also means "position" in general in expressions such as se mettre à la place de quelqu’un (to put oneself in another person’s position/place):


Faut se mettre à la place d'Obama ; pendant trois ans, il s'était farci...

You need to put yourself in Obama's position; for three years, he had been putting up with...

Caption 26, Alsace 20 Laurent Chandemerle, l'homme aux 100 voix

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On the flip side, the French word une position can mean "rank" or "place." In her video, Nelly ranks her favorite places (lieux or endroits) to visit in France:


En septième position, nous avons les gorges du Verdon.

In seventh place, we have the gorges of Verdon.

Caption 20, Français avec Nelly 10 Places to Visit in France - Part 2

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The word place has so many meanings that il n’y a pas assez de place (there is not enough space) in this lesson to mention them all. Just remember that context is key and feel free to browse through our Yabla videos and notice how often the word place comes up! 

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La Malbouffe: Junk Food in France

Have you heard of the French paradox? The phrase was coined in the 80s by French scientists who noted a low incidence of heart disease in France despite a diet high in fat. Whether this French paradox still endures or whether it’s a myth is open for debate. One thing is certain, though: some foods are best avoided, and some dietary habits are not healthy. Let’s discuss how the French diet has changed over the years. Do the French avoid junk food, or do they secretly lap it up? Is there a word for "fast food" and "junk food"? Let’s find out and explore some new vocabulary.


The official term for “fast food” is la restauration rapide, but most people call it le fast-food. French businessman Jacques Borel adopted the concept and opened the first Wimpy hamburger restaurant in 1961, and later on McDonald’s first opened its doors in France in 1972. According to Wikipedia:


Le premier McDonald’s a été ouvert en 1972 près de Paris à Créteil.

The first McDonald’s opened in 1972 in Créteil, near Paris.


Fast-food chains in France, even places like McDonald’s, tend to have a little French flair to them, as it is necessary to accommodate the French palate. In some cases, fast food takes on a definite French flavor. For example, in Nice, people come at all hours of the day for a quick meal of la soccaa type of pizza, which is so popular that it has become the locals’ idea of fast food:


Ils ont créé une sorte de fast-food niçois

They created a kind of Nice fast food

Caption 78, Le saviez-vous? La socca, spécialité niçoise

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Another popular trend is les livraisons de repas à domicile (meal delivery services), which have gained momentum since the COVID pandemic. Meal delivery services like Uber Eats have flourished especially in major cities like Paris: 


Il y a eu une prolifération de services de livraisons à domicile depuis le Covid en France.

There has been a proliferation of home delivery services since COVID in France.


French people also enjoy the convenience of prepared food and produits industriels (processed foods), which, like fast food, tend to be loaded with du sucre (sugar) and des graisses saturées (saturated fats), not to mention additives and other chemicals:


Comme on trouve du sucre dans énormément de produits industriels...

As sugar is found in a huge number of processed foods...

Caption 64, Le Figaro Elle a banni le sucre pendant un an - Part 1

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Les graisses saturées sont les mauvaises graisses.

Saturated fats are bad fats.


Like le sucre and les graisses saturées, les additifs are also hard to avoid in les produits industriels. The lack of additifs becomes a major selling point for this purveyor of natural foods:


C'est un bonbon à base de miel et d'essence de plantes avec aucun additif dedans

It's a sweet made from honey and plant extracts with no additives inside

Captions 84-85, Victoria dirigeante de Millymenthe

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What else is found in produits industriels? Preservatives (des conservateurs). Don’t be fooled by this false cognate! 


"The preservative"... c'est un... un conservateur en français... et un préservatif c'est ce qu'on met pour se protéger des rapports sexuels.

The preservative... is a... un conservateur in French... and un préservatif [a condom] is what you put on to protect yourself from sexual intercourse.

Captions 71-72, 75  Français avec Nelly Les faux amis - Part 2

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Although French people are aware of the unhealthy aspects of processed and fast foods, they enjoy their convenience and affordability. In other words, people enjoy junk food. Interestingly, French does not have a specific term for this. The word la malbouffe (literally, "eating badly") is a close equivalent to “junk food,” referring both to unhealthy foods and poor dietary habits.


According to this article, young people are especially drawn to la malbouffe because it makes them feel a certain kind of independence from their parents:


Les jeunes aiment la malbouffe car c’est une façon de se différencier de leur parents.

Young people enjoy junk food because it’s a way to set themselves apart from their parents. 


People also use the term manger n’importe quoi (literally, "to eat whatever," or indiscriminately) when referring to eating junk:


Il faut pas trop que je picole ni que je mange n'importe quoi...

I shouldn't have too much booze or eat junk...

Caption 65, Le Jour où tout a basculé Espion dans l'immeuble - Part 4

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In conclusion, although more and more French people are consuming les produits industriels and ordering la livraison à domicile, they still care very much about what they eat. France still has plenty of gastronomic delights to offer, as our numerous food-related videos will attest. In any case, don’t let la malbouffe ruin your appetite!

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Manger Sain: Eating Healthy in France

The beginning of a new year is a perfect time for starting afresh and making resolutions. For many French people, it’s an opportunity to try manger plus sain (eating healthier). Although France is known for its great cuisine and good dietary habits, French people are still interested in improving their diet. Let’s find out about eating well and discover the language of healthy eating in France.


Access to une nourriture saine (a healthy diet) is not only desirable, but it is a human right that every child should have, according to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child:


Tu dois pouvoir bénéficier d'une alimentation suffisante, saine et équilibrée

You must be able to receive adequate, healthy, and balanced nutrition

Caption 20, Marie et Sakhoura Droits des enfants

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Part of a healthy diet involves eating and drinking avec modération (in moderation):


Un petit peu de vin rouge... très sympa, donc on va aller juste à côté... -À boire bien sûr avec modération.

A little bit of red wine... very nice, so we'll just go next door... -To drink in moderation, of course.

Caption 31, Cap 24 Paris 2ème : Alessandro joue le Pique-assiette!

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Not only is it necessary to pay attention to quantity, but also to quality. For some, that means changing habitudes alimentaires (dietary habits) and manger bio (eating organic). (The word bio, short for biologique, can mean “organic” or “biological” depending on context.)


Manger bio, c'est vraiment changer ses habitudes alimentaires.

Eating organic is really about changing one's dietary habits.

Caption 19, Alsace 20 Pourquoi le bio est-il plus cher?

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Manger bio requires choosing des produits bio (organic products) over produits conventionnels (conventional products):


Donc vous allez être pas seulement dans le fait que "Je me fais plaisir en achetant des produits bio et je remplace les produits conventionnels"

So you're not only considering the fact that "I feel good about myself when I buy organic products and I replace conventional products"

Captions 34-35, Alsace 20 Pourquoi le bio est-il plus cher?

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Health food advocates recommend increasing one’s consumption of céréales complètes (whole grains), like the ones listed below, to achieve un équilibre alimentaire (dietary balance):


Donc on va revoir son équilibre alimentaire avec davantage de céréales, complètes, avec des légumineuses

So we're going to check again the balance of our diet with more grains, whole grains, with legumes

Captions 37-38, Alsace 20 Pourquoi le bio est-il plus cher?

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They also recommend reducing la consommation de viande (meat consumption):


Réduire sa consommation de viande hebdomadaire

Reducing your weekly consumption of meat

Caption 41, Alsace 20 Pourquoi le bio est-il plus cher?

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French people are now embracing la culture végane (vegan culture). According to Amal and Caroline, there has been a big shift in attitude toward meat. They explain that the Parc de la Villette, which used to be the site of a slaughterhouse, is now the site of a vegan festival held every year:


C'est le lieu de rencontre des festivals qui prônent la culture végane

It's the meeting place for festivals that promote vegan culture

Captions 82-83, Amal et Caroline Le Parc de la Villette

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Not everyone is prepared to become vegan, but many are willing to reach a compromise. In the video below, Lionel cooks a delicious “dual” pizza with une partie végétarienne (a vegetarian part) and a part with meat, and he stresses that it is made entirely with produits naturels (natural products):


Alors je précise que... elle est faite complètement à partir de produits naturels.

So I'd like to point out that... it is made entirely from natural products.

Captions 14-15, Claude et Lionel La pizza

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On en a fait deux parties : une partie végétarienne et puis une partie avec des lardons et du jambon.

We made two parts: a vegetarian part and then a part with bacon cubes and ham.

Captions 38-40, Claude et Lionel La pizza

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Being human, we compromise and are prone to forget our resolutions and give in to temptation. In the following video, Lionel was enticed by a delicious barbecue and decided to reporter son régime (postpone his diet) for now:


Je ne sais pas. Ils feront du barbecue. Je crois que je vais reporter mon régime.

I don't know. They will be having a barbecue. I think that I am going to postpone my diet.

Caption 35, Lionel et Chantal "Faire barbecue"

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To help you to digérer (digest) this information, here is a summary of the vocabulary from this lesson:


manger sain: to eat healthy

consommer en moderation: to consume in moderation

la consommation de viande: meat consumption

une alimentation saine et équilibrée: healthy and balanced nutrition

les habitudes alimentaires: dietary habits

un régime: a diet

végan (masculine), végane (feminine): vegan

végétarien (m.), végétarienne (f.): vegetarian

les produits bio(logiques): organic products

les produits conventionnels: conventional products

les céréales complètes: whole grains


Whatever your dietary preferences may be, Yabla has a wealth of food-related videos to help you achieve un mode de vie sain (a healthy lifestyle). You may also like to get A Free Sampling of French Food and Drink Words. Please stay tuned for our next lesson on what a bad diet looks like in French!


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Making Soup in France

Now that the end-of-the-year feasts known as réveillons are over, French people are glad to return to simpler, healthier food like soups, which are especially popular during winter and often the main part of the evening meal. Let's find out what ingredients typically go into a French soup and explore some soup-related vocabulary in the process. 


Many French people prefer a more sustainable diet of légumes verts (green vegetables) after les fêtes (the holidays):


Après les fêtes, c'est légumes, et puis un peu d'eau plutôt que de l'alcool, voilà.

After the holidays, it's vegetables, and then a little water rather than alcohol, that's it.

Caption 7, TV Vendée Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

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These légumes verts (green vegetables), not to be confused with “legumes” in English, will be the main ingredients of a soup:


On essaye de manger un peu plus de légumes verts, bon des soupes et voilà.

We try to eat a few more green vegetables, well, soups, and that's it.

Caption 4, TV Vendée Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

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The base for a soup also includes un bouillon (bouillon or broth). Le bouillon de volaille (chicken broth) also makes a good base for a sauce:


On déglace avec le bouillon de volaille.

You deglaze with the chicken bouillon.

Caption 41, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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French people often make their soup from scratch by cutting up some vegetables, just as Jeremy and Marie do in the video below. However, you will notice that they call their soup un potage. Most people don’t make a distinction between une soupe and un potage, but there are some differences. Un potage sounds slightly more sophisticated, and its consistency is lighter than a soup as it is usually a blended mixture:


La dernière fois, vous vous souvenez, nous avons coupé les légumes afin de faire un potage

Last time, you remember, we cut the vegetables in order to make a soup

Captions 3-5, Marie & Jeremy Potage - Part 2

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So, what kind of légumes are popular in une soupe or un potage? The French are especially fond of poireaux (leeks), oignons (onions), and carottes (carrots). (Note the difference in spelling here: une carotte has one R and two Ts in French, the opposite of the English "carrot.")


Et tout ce qui est poireaux, euh... on va faire poireaux, carottes, euh... voilà la soupe.

And everything that is leeks, uh... we're going to make leeks, carrots, uh... that's it, the soup.

Caption 13, TV Vendée Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

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French soup names usually follow the formula: soupe + à + definite article + main ingredient. For example, we have soupe à l’oignon (onion soup) and soupe à la citrouille (pumpkin soup). 


L'hiver, les gens préfèrent rester chez eux... On mange surtout de la soupe. Par exemple, de la soupe à l'oignon, de la soupe à la citrouille...

In the winter, people prefer to stay at home... We mostly eat soup. For example, onion soup, pumpkin soup...

Caption 1, 3-4  Fanny parle des saisons La Bouffe

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But sometimes you'll see the preposition de after soupe, when the soup mostly consists of one main ingredient. For example, we're more likely to say soupe de poisson (fish soup) if fish is the star ingredient, but soupe au poisson is also correct. Either way, be sure to pronounce the double S in poisson correctly, unlike Sam in this video:


Deuxième plat: soupe de la poison [sic]. Soupe de poison ? Poisson, poisson, soupe de poisson.

Second dish: poison soup. Poison soup? Fish, fish, fish soup

Captions 1-4, Extr@ Ep. 4 - Sam trouve du travail - Part 6

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Speaking of soupe de poisson, have you ever tried a bouillabaisse, a hearty tomato-based fish soup from southern France? In the video below, one of the speakers comes from Marseille, where bouillabaisse originated:


De notre côté c'est pas les crêpes, c'est plutôt la bouillabaisse.

For us, it's not crêpes, it's more bouillabaisse.

Caption 21, Fanny et Corrine Leurs origines

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If you prefer a smoother texture to your seafood soup, you may want to try une bisque au homard (lobster bisque):


Les bisques de homard sont souvent au menu dans les grands restaurants à quatre étoiles.

Lobster bisques are often on the menu in four-star restaurants.


For an even richer, smoother texture, you may like un velouté (literally, "velvety"), a creamy vegetable soup thickened with butter, cream, or egg yolk:


Vous pouvez commander un velouté aux champignons au restaurant.

You can order a cream of mushroom soup at the restaurant.


Finally, we have a thinner, clear mixture, but with a more intense, concentrated flavor, called un consommé:


Un consommé est un fond ou bouillon qui a été clarifié avec un blanc d’œuf.

A consommé is stock or bouillon that has been clarified with egg white.


Whether you prefer a humble soupe or potage or a more sophisticated bisque or consommé, you'll have plenty of options in France! You can find even more on this page. And be sure to check out Yabla’s delicious food-related videos.

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Réveillons: Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve Feasts

French people enjoy getting together with family or friends to celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve with a festive dinner called le réveillon. This is a time of year that involves a lot of eating and feasting! What is the French traditional holiday fare? Let's find out what these réveillons entail, and what French people do to recover from these eating marathons afterwards.


Le réveillon (from the word réveil, "waking") is a dinner party that takes place twice a year, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Usually prepared at home, such meals require much thought and preparation, which is why most people choose to stick to traditional fare:


Pour réussir son réveillon il y a ceux qui misent sur la tradition...

To make one's Christmas Eve dinner a success, there are those who rely on tradition...

Captions 1-2, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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In addition to the noun réveillon, there is even a special verb, réveillonner (to have a Christmas or New Year's Eve party). Even the lonely sailors in the video below like to réveillonner:


La solitude n'a pas empêché les marins de réveillonner.

Solitude hasn't kept the sailors from having a Christmas party.

Caption 8, Le Journal Les navigateurs du Vendée Globe - Part 3

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A réveillon usually starts with the traditional appetizer of huîtres (oysters, served raw with a squeeze of lemon):


Voilà avec une bûche [de Noël] à la fin, et en entrée des huîtres.

That's it, with a [Yule] log at the end, and oysters as appetizers.

Captions 4-5, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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(Notice that une entrée is an appetizer in French, not a main course.)


Les huîtres may be followed by such traditional fare as foie gras (goose liver pâté) and/or crustacés ("crustaceans," as in a seafood platter):


Les grands classiques de cette fête, foie gras et crustacés

The great classics of this holiday, foie gras and crustaceans

Caption 2, TLT Toulouse Noël: Les fêtes approchent!

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Then comes the main course (le plat principal). The familiar dinde aux marrons (turkey with chestnut stuffing) is an all-time favorite, although some people might find it boring and crave a change:


La dinde aux marrons, ça me fatigue parce que tout le monde fait de la dinde de marron.

Turkey with chestnut stuffing, I am tired of it because everyone cooks turkey with chestnut stuffing.

Caption 4, TLT Toulouse Noël: Les fêtes approchent!

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Chapon farci (stuffed capon) is another classic main course in a réveillon:


On va avoir du chapon farci

We're going to have stuffed capon

Caption 3, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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However, some people like to depart from tradition and add a modern twist:


On peut sortir des sentiers battus tout en conservant des produits traditionnels : chapon tikka masala, foie gras au samoussa ou vice versa.

We can get off the beaten track while keeping traditional products: capon tikka masala, foie gras samosa, or vice versa.

Captions 8-9, TLT Toulouse Noël: Les fêtes approchent!

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Those who feel a little ambitious might try un bœuf en croûte (crusted roast beef, or beef Wellington):


Ensuite en plat, un bœuf en croûte au foie gras

Then for the main dish, a crusted roast beef with foie gras

Caption 8, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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Alternatively, one can always fall back on yet another holiday classic, boudin blanc (white sausage), which this butcher likes to showcase at his shop:


...les ingrédients classiques comme le boudin blanc sont mis à l'honneur.

...classic ingredients like white sausage are showcased.

Caption 19, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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Finally, for dessert, there is the all-time favorite, la bûche de Noël (Yule log):


Voilà avec une bûche [de Noël] à la fin...

That's it, with a [Yule] log at the end...

Caption 4, Réveillon de Noël Que mange-t-on lors de ce repas?

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In addition to the delicious dishes mentioned earlier, French celebratory meals always include one or two cooked vegetables, a green salad, and a cheese platter. If this abundance of food seems too much for you, you are not alone… In the video below, Sophie and Patrice are starting to feel like une grosse dinde (a fat turkey) themselves! As they say, you are what you eat:


On est ce qu'on mange. Là je suis donc un gâteau, du vin... une grosse bûche... -Une grosse... grosse bûche... une dinde énorme... trois tonnes de saumon...

We are what we eat. So here I'm a cake, some wine... A fat Yule log... -A fat... fat Yule log... a huge turkey... three tons of salmon...

Captions 23-27, Sophie et Patrice Après le réveillon

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Moi, je suis du foie gras. Un gros foie gras. Quelle horreur. J'en mangerai plus.

Me, I'm foie gras. A big foie gras. How awful. I won't eat any more of it. 

Captions 28-31, Sophie et Patrice Après le réveillon

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After so much indulgence, French people tend to crave lighter, healthier food like une bonne soupe (a nice soup). People also like to pace themselves and try to eat healthy in between réveillons:


On essaye de manger un peu plus de légumes verts... bon des soupes et voilà.

We try to eat a few more green vegetables... well, soups, and that's it.

Caption 4, TV Vendée Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

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If the mention of these delicious dishes whetted your appetite, feel free to browse through Yabla's Christmas and cooking videos. Stay tuned for a new culinary experience in a future lesson!


Bon appétit!

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Christmas for Children in France

Many nations celebrate Noël (Christmas), and France is no exception. How do French children typically spend Noël? Does Santa visit them and give out toys on le jour de Noël (Christmas Day) too? Let's discuss some of France’s traditions and explore some Christmas-related vocabulary in the process.


Le Père Noël (Father Christmas or Santa Claus) does indeed pay a visit to children in France and French-speaking countries, but he was not always called Père Noël


À l'époque, il ne s'appelle pas encore Père Noël mais Nicolas

At the time, he is not yet called Santa Claus, but Nicholas

Captions 4-5, Le Monde D’où vient le Père Noël ?

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In any case, nowadays, children all know about le Père Noël, to whom they are encouraged to write une lettre (a letter), en français, of course:


Les enfants peuvent écrire leur lettre au Père Noël

The children can write their letter to Santa Claus

Caption 11, LCM "Cher Père Noël..."

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And all the lettres addressed to le Père Noël will end up at le pôle Nord (the North Pole):


La lettre arrivera bien au père Noël. Une lettre tamponnée et postée, destination le pôle Nord.

The letter will reach Santa Claus. A letter stamped and mailed, destination North Pole.

Captions 14-16, LCM "Cher Père Noël..."

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Le Père Noël will, as the story goes, read the letters and fulfill the children’s wishes as long as they've been sages (good). In the following video, a child gives us a candid answer about his behavior:


Oui, des fois je suis sage.

Yes, sometimes I am good.

Caption 18, LCM "Cher Père Noël..."

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If the children have been naughty, they will have to contend with le Père Fouettard (Father Whipper), who distributes coal to bad kids. Fortunately, according to the speaker in the video below, le Père Fouettard will not be present this year, as everybody has been good:


Donc, euh... cette année sans le Père Fouettard parce que tout le monde est sage.

So, uh... this year without Père Fouettard, because everybody is good.

Caption 57, Grand Lille TV Focus: la tradition de Saint-Nicolas

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Since so many children have been sages (good), it's an extremely busy time for le Père Noël, who has many jouets (toys) to deliver. In this cute video, poor Santa complains that he is overworked! Not only does le Père Noël distribute the toys, but he also makes them:


Le Père Noël a bien du mal à finir à temps son travail. Il y a tellement d'enfants sur terre et tellement de jouets à leur faire.

Santa Claus is having a lot of trouble finishing his work on time. There are so many children on earth and so many toys to make for them.

Captions 16-18, Les belles histoires de Pomme d'Api Les Chaussettes du Père Noël

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Le Père Noël might have to carry a large hotte (bag) for all the toys he will need to deliver, but its heaviness should not be of any concern to the little ones:


Si quelques enfants ont encore des craintes concernant la taille de sa hotte, pas de panique.

If some children still have concerns about the size of his bag of toys, no need to panic.

Caption 9, TV Vendée Le sapin de Noël décoré par les enfants

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Then le Père Noël, whose appearance is based on that of Saint Nicholas, is all set with his traîneau (sleigh) pulled by rennes (reindeer), which is filled with cadeaux (presents) to be stuffed into chaussettes (stockings):


Saint-Nicolas ressemble alors à un vieil homme à barbe, un peu gros, qui se promène sur un traîneau tiré par des rennes, et il descend par la cheminée pour fourrer ses cadeaux dans des chaussettes.

Saint Nicholas then looks like an old bearded old man, somewhat fat, who goes around on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, and he goes down the chimney to stuff his gifts into stockings.

Captions 52-55, Le Monde D’où vient le Père Noël ?

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While le Père Noël is getting ready, families are also busy setting up decorations. Of course, the magic of Christmas is not complete without un sapin de Noël (a Christmas tree)! In this small community, le sapin is the centerpiece and pride of the town:


Un peu plus loin, la star, c'est le sapin.

A little further, the star is the Christmas tree.

Caption 14, TV Vendée Le sapin de Noël décoré par les enfants

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An army of children help decorate the town’s sapin with personalized ornaments:


Celui de la place Napoléon à la Roche-sur-Yon est assiégé par une armée d'enfants venus tout simplement le décorer avec des boules personnalisées.

The one on Place Napoléon [Napoleon Square] in La Roche-sur-Yon is besieged by an army of children who came quite simply to decorate it with personalized ornament balls.

Captions 15-16, TV Vendée Le sapin de Noël décoré par les enfants

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Some communities prepare for a more religious Christmas celebration, like this little town in Alsace, which is even planning to set up une crèche vivante (a live nativity scene) in the future:


En été j'aimerais bien faire un pique-nique géant dans la cour,  faire une petite crèche vivante aussi pour Noël...

In the summer I'd really love to do a huge picnic in the courtyard, to do a little live-action nativity scene as well for Christmas...

Captions 32-33, Alsace 20 Mangez bien, mangez alsacien!

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In addition, you will often hear French children sing "Petit Papa Noël" (Little Father Christmas), a song recorded in 1946 by French singer Tino Rossi:


Petit Papa Noël / Quand tu descendras du ciel

Little Father Christmas / When you come down from the sky

Captions 1-2, LCM "Cher Père Noël..."

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That’s it for our fêtes de Noël (Christmas festivities)! If you wish to find out more about the wonderful ways French people like to fêter Noël (celebrate Christmas), be sure to explore our Christmas-themed videos


Joyeux Noël! (Merry Christmas!)

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Comment s'en sortir avec sortie

When you want to exit a building, look for a sign that says Sortie (Exit). Based on the past participle of the verb sortir (to go out), la sortie is a very versatile word that can be used in many different ways, both literally and figuratively.


As mentioned earlier, la sortie refers to “the exit” of a building. The studio in the video below has several sorties, which may explain André’s wife’s mysterious disappearance:


Ah ben... parce qu'il y a d'autres sorties...

Oh, well... because there are other exits... 

Caption 24, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma femme est-elle réellement morte ? - Part 2

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Just as in English, you can combine sortie with faire (to make): faire sa sortie (to make one's exit), like singers and superstars do.


Voici comment toutes les grandes superstars font leur sortie.

Here's how all the big superstars make their exit.

Captions 64-65, Extr@ Ep. 5 - Une étoile est née - Part 3

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Speaking of singers, we also use the word sortie to talk about an album release:


Sortie de l'album le vingt-sept février deux mille douze

Album release February twenty-seventh, two thousand twelve

Caption 1, Boulbar New York, 6 heures du matin

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Sortie is also a verb form meaning "released." In this case, it's the feminine past participle of the verb sortir (to be released). Remember that sortir belongs to the small group of verbs that go with the auxiliary être and take agreement in the past tense. In the video below, sortie agrees with the feminine noun chanson (song):


Cette chanson est sortie en deux mille onze.

This song was released in two thousand eleven.

Caption 134, Français avec Nelly 12 Songs to Improve Your French - Part 1

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It’s not just songs or movies that can be released. People can too! In the example below, it’s a prisoner who is being freed.


Dès sa sortie de prison, Brice contacte Enzo.

As soon as he is released from prison, Brice contacts Enzo.

Caption 1, Le Jour où tout a basculé À la recherche de mon père - Part 9

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The recently released prisoner would no longer need permission for chaque sortie (each outing), unlike French residents during the early COVID pandemic:


Il faut signer une attestation, surtout attester de chaque sortie.

You have to sign a certificate, above all register every outing.

Captions 54-55, Lionel L La pandémie

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As for poor Barbara, she has to beg her mother for la permission de sortie:


Il fallait passer par d'interminables négociations pour obtenir la permission de sortie.

I had to go through endless negotiations to obtain permission to go out.

Captions 26-27, Mère & Fille La soirée

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Unlike Barbara, our former prisoner is free to enjoy être de sortie (being out and about), like the people in this Christine and the Queens song:


Nous et la "man", on est de sortie

We and the man, we are out and about

Caption 25, Christine and the Queens Christine

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Être de sortie can also just mean “to be out,” as opposed to being home:


J'aurais pu refuser et prétexter que j'étais de sortie

I could've refused on the pretext that I was out

Caption 72, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 5

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Interestingly, when sortie is preceded by the definite article la (the), as in à la sortie, the phrase usually signals the end of an activity:


À la sortie, cette idée semble avoir été abandonnée

In the end, they seem to have abandoned this idea

Caption 6, Le Journal Enseigner l'Holocauste en classe

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À la sortie de la séance, certains n'en reviennent toujours pas.

At the end of the showing, some still can't believe it.

Caption 27, Le Journal Les Ch'tis

 Play Caption de me les communiquer à la sortie du conseil de classe.

...and communicate them to me at the end of the teachers' conference.

Captions 54-55, Mère & Fille Le coup de téléphone

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However, note the subtlety here. La sortie des classes doesn’t just mean the end of classes, but also when classes are dismissed:


Ça tombe juste pendant la sortie des classes.

That falls right when classes are dismissed.

Caption 23, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 3

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And watch out: in a different context, une sortie de classe is a "field trip" or "school trip," like the one Barbara is going on: 


Les sorties de classe, c'est l'occasion de découvrir des choses nouvelles

Class field trips are an opportunity to discover new things

Caption 1, Mère & Fille La sortie de classe

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Here are some other uses of the noun sortie. This one is straightforward: à la sortie du four means “out of the oven."


...pour que les manneles à la sortie du four, ils aient une belle croûte. that the mannele out of the oven have a beautiful crust.

Caption 62, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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In the next example, however, the meaning is not so obvious. Remember earlier when we talked about la sortie d’un album? This time, la sortie sort of means the opposite: "the phaseout" or "the end of an era":


Tu crois que pour toi ça symbolise la sortie du nucléaire, là ?

Do you think this symbolizes the phaseout of nuclear energy for you?

Caption 75, Actus Quartier Manif anti-nucléaire à Bastille

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Another less common meaning of sortie is “output” in an industrial context, as in la sortie de l’électricité:


Dans les batteries, on a des contacteurs qui coupent la sortie de l'électricité

In the batteries, we have contactors that shut off the electricity output

Captions 64-65, Bateau sport 100% électrique Le Nautique 196 E

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And in a commercial context, we have l'entrée et sortie de marchandises


...logiciels informatiques pour gérer tout ce qui est entrée et sortie de marchandises. 

...computing software to manage everything that is about the entry and departure of goods.

Captions 33-34, GO! Formations Présentation du centre

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Indeed, sortie can mean “departure,” as in to leave a place or depart. In the video below, la sortie refers to the time the couple left the hotel:


Au moment de leur sortie, eh bien, cette carte avait disparu.

At the time of their departure, well, this card had gone missing.

Captions 88-89, Le Jour où tout a basculé À l'audience - Arnaque en couple ? - Part 6

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In some cases, sortie doesn’t just mean “departure,” but “quitting,” as in giving up:


C'est-à-dire les différentes épisodes de sortie, ensuite, les envies, et cetera, correspondent en tout point à ce que nous vivons avec...des patients qui fument...

That is, the different quitting episodes, then the cravings, et cetera, correspond point by point with what we experience with...patients who smoke...

Captions 157-160, Le Figaro Elle a banni le sucre pendant un an - Part 2

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So far, we’ve explored many ways of using the word sortie, and like Sacha in the video below, you may be wondering comment vous allez vous en sortir (how you’re going to manage):


Oh là là là là, comment vont-ils s'en sortir ?

Oh dear, how are they going to manage?

Caption 10, Extr@ Ep. 6 - Le jour du loto - Part 1

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Just keep in mind that the main meanings of sortie are “exit," "departure," and "outing." However, pay close attention to context to interpret the less common uses of sortie. And remember that Yabla videos are at your disposal pour vous aider à vous en sortir (to help you cope). Thanks for reading!

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Un tour des toilettes

Most tourist phrase books are bound to include the handy little phrase Où sont les toilettes s’il vous plaît ? ("Where are the toilets, please?") The word toilettes is self-explanatory, but it has other meanings besides the obvious. So, let’s explore some toilette-related vocabulary and discuss the evolution of public restrooms.


The French cognate of "bathroom" is la salle de bain. But whereas "bathroom" is a catch-all term for any type of restroom, la salle de bain specifically refers to a bathroom containing une baignoire (a bathtub) or une douche (a shower)—in other words, a bathroom you can bathe in (salle de bain literally means "bathing room"). You'll typically find this type of bathroom in someone's home:


Alors ici, c'est la salle de bain.

So here, this is the bathroom.

Caption 35, Joanna Son appartement

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Inside Joanna's salle de bain, you will find les toilettes (the toilet) and a few other essentials:


Vous avez un placard ici, les toilettes, le lavabo, avec du savon pour me laver les mains.

You have a cupboard here, the toilet, the sink, with some soap for me to wash my hands.

Caption 36, Joanna Son appartement

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La salle de bain is where one goes to faire sa toilette (wash up):


Allons Susie, il faut rentrer faire ta toilette.

Come on, Susie, you have to wash up.

Caption 5, Il était une fois: L’Espace 6. La révolte des robots - Part 1

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To do that, you may want to use un gant de toilette (a washcloth), an item that the piglet Piggeldy always carries in his suitcase:


Pyjama, dentifrice, brosse à dents, savon et gant de toilette.

Pajamas, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, and washcloth.

Caption 13, Piggeldy et Frédéric Voyage à Pont-à-Cochon

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As for Sacha in the video below, she doesn’t travel light, since she carries deux trousses de toilette (two toiletry bags):


Trois brosses à dents, deux trousses de toilette...

Three toothbrushes, two toiletry bags...

Caption 15, Extr@ Ep. 11 - Les vacances - Part 4

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Most people don’t usually include le papier toilette (toilet paper) in their travel kit, but this essential item was in short supply in the early days of the COVID pandemic:


Les ventes de pâtes ont été multipliées par cinq, celles de papier toilette par trois et demi...

Sales of pasta have increased fivefold, those of toilet paper by three and a half...

Captions 21-22, Le Monde Coronavirus : bientôt la pénurie dans les supermarchés ?

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In France, les toilettes publiques (public toilets) come in various shapes and sizes. Some are round and made of cast-iron. Known as les vespasiennes in reference to the Roman emperor Vespasian, these vintage urinals date from the 1900s and are fast disappearing. Daniel Benchimol gives us a glimpse of one of the last remaining ones in his tour of Paris's thirteenth arrondissement:


...ce sont ces toilettes: on les appelle les  « vespasiennes ».

....are these toilets: we call them "vespasiennes" [urinals].

Caption 16, Voyage dans Paris Le Treizième arrondissement de Paris - Part 1

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French speakers also adopted the British acronym "WC" (water closet) to refer to public toilets. Note that it’s always known as les WC (plural), and it's pronounced "vay-say" (as if it were written VC). The term WC is somewhat dated in France, but you'll still see it around:


Le terme « les WC » figurent encore sur les plans de ville.

The term "WC" still features on city maps.


You might even hear the term les waters


« Les waters » est un autre synonyme pour les toilettes publiques.

"Water closet" is another synonym for public restrooms.


Even more dated is les cabinets. Be careful with this one: in the plural form, it refers to a toilet, but un cabinet is a professional office:


Les cabinets extérieurs sont plutôt rares.

Outhouses are rather rare.


Je suis secrétaire dans un cabinet médical. 

I'm a secretary in a doctor's office


For a more modern type of toilet, we have les sanisettes, which are fully automated restrooms on the streets of major cities like Paris:


La première sanisette a été ouverte le 10 novembre 1981.

The first sanisette opened on November 10, 1981.


More recently, an environmentally-friendly invention called l'uritrottoir (sidewalk urinal) was introduced in 2018 to help curb les pipis sauvages (peeing on the streets). First tested in the cities of Nantes and Paris, they caused a bit of an uproar, as the public complained that these minimalist urinals afforded little privacy and encouraged exhibitionism. Per Wikipedia


« Un uritrottoir est un urinoir public écologique...destiné à lutter contre les incivilités urinaires ».

uritrottoir is a public, eco-friendly urinal...aimed at curbing public urination.”


Many public toilets have separate male and female facilities. To make sure you enter the correct one, look for the letter F (for femmes) or H (for hommes). This is the way to ask for the men’s room or ladies’ room:


Où sont les toilettes pour hommes ? Où sont les toilettes pour femmes ?

Where is the men's room? Where is the ladies' room?


But nowadays, restrooms are not necessarily gender specific:


Les toilettes unisexes ou mixtes sont utilisables par les deux sexes.

Unisex and all-gender toilets may be used by both sexes.


That’s it for our tour of the toilettes! Wishing you a stress-free search for public restrooms in French-speaking countries. If you're ever in need of one in France, try consulting

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Once Upon a Time There Was an Egg...

What’s in an egg? Besides its culinary versatility, the French œuf (egg) has some unique spelling and pronunciation features. Let’s discover its special characteristics and then take it into the kitchen to explore some egg-related vocabulary.


First, let’s explore the unique spelling feature of the noun œuf. A few common words have this special character œ, like le cœur (heart), la sœur (sister), l'œuvre (work), and le bœuf (ox):


Qui vole un œuf vole un bœuf.

He who steals an egg steals an ox (give someone an inch and they'll take a mile; once a thief, always a thief).


Let’s look at another example featuring the word œuf in Patricia’s fairy tale video, “Le vilain petit canard” (The Ugly Duckling):


Le septième œuf, le plus gros de tous n'avait toujours pas éclos.

The seventh egg, the largest of all, had not yet hatched.

Caption 10, Contes de fées Le vilain petit canard - Part 1

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Not only does the word œuf contain a special character, but it also has an irregular pronunciation in the plural form, des œufs (eggs), even though the spelling is perfectly regular. Indeed, while un œuf (an egg) rhymes with neuf (nine), des œufs (eggs) rhymes with feu (fire). Listen carefully to Lionel’s pronunciation of œuf versus œufs in his video on madeleine-making:


Ici devant moi, nous avons un œuf, o, e, u, f, mais également des œufs, le pluriel: des œufs.

Here in front of me, we have un œuf [an egg], o, e, u, f, but also des œufs, the plural: some eggs.

Captions 19-22, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 1

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The letter œ is an example of a ligature, a character composed of two letters joined together. In French, œ is commonly called e dans l'o ("e in the o"), which is actually a pun, as it sounds like œufs dans l'eau (eggs in the water)!


Speaking of eggs in water, let’s proceed to the kitchen. As you know, there are many ways to cook an egg, but first you should know how to tell un œuf cru (a raw egg) from un œuf dur (a hard-boiled egg). In this humorous mother-daughter video, Isabelle demonstrates how to tell the difference to her daughter Barbara, who has yet to grasp the concept:


Comment reconnaître un œuf cru d'un œuf dur ?

How to tell a raw egg from a hard-boiled egg?

Caption 8, Mère & Fille Le secret de l'œuf dur - Bonne impression - Monsieur Richeto - Dodo

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Once you’ve established that your egg is cru (raw) and not dur (hard-boiled), you may want to prepare un œuf mollet (a soft-boiled egg). Not to be confused with the anatomical term le mollet (the calf), mollet here is a variant of the adjective molle (soft). Un œuf mollet (a soft-boiled egg) is often served in the country salad described below:


Nous avons une salade de lentilles avec un œuf mollet et une vinaigrette au lard paysan.

We have a lentil salad with a soft-boiled egg and a vinaigrette with country bacon.

Caption 7, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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If un œuf mollet is not to your taste, you could try un œuf poché (a poached egg). The restaurant Le Relais de la Poste in Alsace has a delicious version of this on their menu:


Laurent Huguet du Relais de la Poste, lui accommode un œuf poché aux asperges avec un petit riesling.

Laurent Huguet of the Relais de la Poste, he prepares a poached egg with asparagus with a little Riesling.

Captions 22-23, Alsace 20 100 recettes pour 100 vins

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Another alternative is un œuf au plat (a fried egg, literally "an egg on the plate"), which can make a nice addition to a traditional savory French crêpe:


Tu peux faire une crêpe complète avec jambon, fromage, et en plus tu rajoutes un œuf au plat par-dessus.

You can make a complete crêpe with ham, cheese, and in addition you add a fried egg to the dish on top.

Captions 44-46, Claude et Zette Les crêpes bretonnes

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You can also make œufs Bénédicte, or a simple omelette. In their video, Elisa and Mashal discuss what mouth-watering egg dishes they would like for breakfast:


Des œufs Bénédicte ou sinon je te fais des œufs... un... une omelette.

Eggs Benedict, or otherwise I'll make you eggs... a... an omelette.

Caption 82, Elisa et Mashal Petit-déjeuner

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Les œufs are also an essential baking ingredient that you can crack into your mixture. In French, though, we don’t say craquer (to crack) but rather casser les œufs (break the eggs). In his madeleine video, Lionel asks about the art of casser des œufs:


Donc là ben, on va commencer par casser des œufs entiers.

So, here, well, we're going to start by cracking some whole eggs.

Caption 36, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 1

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Here is another culinary technique: fouetter/battre les blancs en neige (to beat the egg whites until stiff; literally, "beat the whites into snow"). This is exactly what is required to make a chocolate-rolled Christmas log:


Vous fouettez les blancs en neige

You beat the egg whites until stiff

Caption 44, Il était une fois la pâtisserie Bûche de Noël

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If le blanc is "the egg white" in French, can you guess what "the yolk" is? That's right, le jaune (literally, "the yellow")! 


As you can see, there is more than one way to frire un œuf (fry an egg). Whichever way you choose to cook des œufs, be sure to use the correct pronunciation. Feel free to draw inspiration from our many Yabla cooking videos on how to prepare your eggs, and you will increase your kitchen vocabulary in the process.


Happy cooking!

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Tout as an Adverb

In our last lesson, we discussed the word tout (all) as an adjective in the constructions tout + noun versus tout + determiner + noun, and we learned that tout, like all adjectives, agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies. In this lesson, we'll explore tout as an adverb. And in the process, we'll discover how this strange adverb sometimes goes rogue and starts behaving like an adjective! So, buckle up!


Before we examine the quirks and tricks of adverbial tout, let's look at tout as a regular adverb, a word that is typically invariable (never changes form). Indeed, tout always stays the same in front of another adverb. The construction tout + adverb is equivalent to très (very) + adverb:


Et voilà. Allez, mélange tout doucement.

And there we are. Go on, mix very slowly.

Caption 40, Delphine et Automne Le gâteau au yaourt - Part 1

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Delphine could have said this instead:


Voilà. Allez, mélange très doucement

And there we are. Go on, mix very slowly.


Tout also combines well with adverbs like simplementtout simplement (quite simply). 


Alors tout simplement parce que ça fait maintenant dix ans qu'on travaille à notre compte.

So quite simply because it has now been ten years since we've been self-employed.

Caption 22, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le titre de Maître Restaurateur, c'est quoi?

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The adverb tout can also modify an adjective to mean "all" or "very," as in "to the full extent." Again, tout behaves like a typical adverb and does not change. In his song "Cha Cha du Marin," singer Cré Tonnerre describes a sailor in a happy mood, using the construction tout + singular masculine adjectives:


Tout heureux, tout amoureux, tout bleu comme le ciel bleu

All happy, all in love, all blue as the blue sky

Caption 26, Cré Tonnerre Cha Cha du Marin

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Did you notice that all the t’s are sounded except the last one? That's because it's necessary to employ liaison in constructions like tout heureux (all happy) and tout amoureux (all/totally in love).


But when the adverb tout appears before a feminine adjective, the liaison becomes a bit more dangerous (or at least trickier). If the feminine adjective (singular or plural) starts with a vowel, as in excitée (excited), tout does not change:


J'étais tout excitée d'avoir ce privilège.

I was all excited to have that privilege.

Caption 16, Melissa Mars From Paris with Love

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Tout also stays the same before a feminine adjective starting with a mute h (since a word beginning with a mute h behaves like a word beginning with a vowel, in the sense that it allows a liaison to occur):


Elle est tout heureuse.

She is very happy.


Elles sont tout heureuses.

They are very happy.


But wait, there is another type of h in French! Unlike the mute h, the aspirated h acts like a consonant. Therefore, no liaison is possible, which would make the second t in tout silent. Tout agrees in number and gender before a feminine adjective beginning with an aspirated h. In the example below, toute agrees with the feminine adjective honteuse (ashamed):


Elle est toute honteuse.

She is very ashamed.


In the same sentence in the plural form, toutes takes -es just like the feminine plural adjective it modifies:


Elles sont toutes honteuses.

They are very ashamed.


Just as adverbial tout agrees with a feminine adjective starting with an aspirated h, tout also agrees with a feminine adjective starting with a consonant:


Et puis après, je me retrouve toute seule... 

and then after, I find myself all alone...

Caption 29, Amal et Caroline Pourquoi tu n'es pas venue à mon anniversaire ?

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Elles peuvent fonctionner toutes seules.

They can operate on their own.

Caption 66, Lionel & Lahlou La grève

 Play Caption


However, there is sometimes ambiguity in the feminine plural form. In some cases, you will need context to determine whether toutes is acting as an adverb (meaning "very," modifying the adjective) or as an adjective (meaning "all," modifying the subject):


Elles sont toutes tristes.

They are very sad./All of them are sad.


Elles sont toutes honteuses.

They are very ashamed./All of them are ashamed.


On the other hand, there is no ambiguity with the construction tout + plural feminine noun beginning with a vowel or mute h (e.g. tout heureuses). This tout can only act as an adverb, meaning "very":


Elles sont tout heureuses.

They are very happy.


Likewise, toutes heureuses can only mean "(they are) all happy." Rather than an adverb, toutes in this case is an adjective of quantity that modifies the subject elles:


Elles sont toutes heureuses.

All of them are happy.


Now let's recap the rules of the construction tout + feminine adjective (singular and plural):



When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a consonant:

  • toutseul("all alone," feminine singular)
  • toutes seules ("all alone," feminine plural)


When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with an aspirated h:

  • toute honteuse ("very ashamed," feminine singular)
  • toutes honteuses ("very ashamed," feminine plural)



No Agreement

When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a vowel:

  • tout excitée ("very excited," feminine singular)
  • tout excitées ("very excited," feminine plural)


When tout is before a feminine adjective starting with a mute h:

  • tout heureuse ("very happy," feminine singular)
  • tout heureuses ("very happy, feminine plural)


(And don’t forget that adverbial tout does not take agreement before ANY masculine adjective.)


Toute la leçon est terminée! (The whole lesson is over!) This may be a lot to take in, but keep in mind that exceptions are few. Tout only changes before feminine adjectives and only in limited situations. And don’t forget: L’équipe de Yabla est tout heureuse de vous aider! (The Yabla team is very happy to help you!)

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Agreeing with Everything—Tout !

Let's talk about…everything! Or, the word tout in French. Did you know that tout can change spelling and pronunciation? And are you aware that this versatile word can function as an adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, and a noun? In this lesson, we'll focus on tout (all) as an adjective in the constructions tout + noun versus tout + determiner + noun.


Tout as a quantifier is usually equivalent to “all,” expressing totality, as in tout le temps (all the time). The construction is usually as follows: tout + determiner + a noun (a determiner is a short word preceding a noun, such as “the” in English). Tout (all) then functions as an adjective since it is attached to a noun, and it will therefore agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies. So, tout has four different endings: tout, toute, toutes, tous. When tout agrees with a masculine singular noun, you're in luck: no change is required! In the example below, tout agrees with the noun votre argent (your money):


Vous donnez tout votre argent à Gérard.

You're giving all your money to Gérard.

Caption 69, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes parents se préparent à la fin du monde - Part 7

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When tout modifies a masculine plural noun, just drop the -t ending and replace it with an -s (tous), as in tous les petits commerces (all the little shops). Note that tout and tous sound the same, as the final -t and -s are both silent:


Ce qui est intéressant aussi dans la rue, c'est que tous les petits commerces sont des artisans français.

What's also interesting on the street is that all the little shops are French craftworkers.

Captions 32-34, Adrien Rue des Martyrs

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When tout modifies a feminine noun, add an -e for agreement. Note that this time, however, you do pronounce the second t! Listen for the t sound in toute la journée (all day) in the following video. Also note that we don’t say “all the day” in English, but we do in French!


Il a plu toute la journée.

It rained all day.

Caption 22, Ahlam et Timothé Des conversations basiques

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When tout agrees with a feminine plural noun, add -es to the end: toutes. As in the previous example, you will pronounce the second t, but not the final s. In other words, toute (feminine singular) and toutes (feminine plural) sound the same. In the example below, toutes agrees with the feminine plural noun les heures (hours). In this case, though, toutes les heures translates as “every hour,” not “all hours”:


Depuis que le nouveau curé a remis ses cloches à sonner toutes les heures

Since the new priest reset his bells to ring every hour

Caption 62, Actu Vingtième Le vide-grenier

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So far, so good, but watch what happens when we decide to omit the les. Just as in English, the meaning changes. In the clause below, the bell doesn’t necessarily ring on the hour, but “at all hours":


Depuis que le nouveau curé a remis ses cloches à sonner à toute heure

Since the new priest reset his bells to ring at all hours


In other words, when tout is used in the sense of “any” or “whichever," you drop the determiner and get the construction tout + noun. The person in the video below expects to be exposed à tout moment (at any moment): 


Mais elle reste obnubilée par son larcin de la veille et s'attend à tout moment à être démasquée.

But she remains obsessed with her petty theft of the day before and expects at any moment to be unmasked.

Captions 47-49, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 3

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There is one more thing to consider. Even in the absence of determiners, agreement rules still apply! In the example below, we have three different spellings: agreements with a masculine plural noun (tous biens), a masculine singular noun (tout don), and a feminine singular noun (toute personne). Also note how the translation of tout varies according to the noun that follows it:


Tous biens... tout don est bienvenu, ainsi que toute personne.

All goods... every donation is welcome, as well as every person.

Caption 43, Actus Quartier Repair Café

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The use of tout can also imply diversity and inclusiveness, as in de toute religion (from all religions):


Y a de toute religion, y a des musulmans, y a de tout de chez nous.

There're people from all religions, there are Muslims, there's a bit of everything in our club.

Caption 14, Actu Vingtième Le vide-grenier

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Speaking of “all kinds," we have the expression toutes sortes (all kinds/all sorts):


Toutes sortes de décors... et une belle vaisselle.

All kinds of decorations... and beautiful dishes.

Caption 10, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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The construction tout + noun can also imply “any” possibility of something. In the video below, the pastry chef talks about being proactive by polishing the cutlery to avoid any potential marks:


Il faudra bien penser à les nettoyer, les polir correctement, pour éviter toute trace, parce que c'est plus joli, c'est plus sympa.

You really have to think about cleaning them, polishing them correctly, to avoid any marks, because it's prettier, it's nicer.

Captions 15-16, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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If the speaker had found des traces (some marks) on the cutlery, he would have had the staff remove toutes les traces (all the marks) and say something like this:


Nettoyez toutes les traces afin qu’il n’en reste plus.

Clean all the marks so there are none left.


In conclusion, a few reminders. Include a determiner to convey quantity, entirety, or diversity, as in tout le (all the) and tous les (every). But drop the determiner when tout is used in the sense of “any," “whichever,” or “all kinds." Whether you use the construction tout + determiner + noun or tout + noun, agreement rules apply in both cases. And don't forget: toutes les vidéos sur Yabla (all the Yabla videos) are available to help you. And since tout is such a common word, you'll find it in just about any video (toute vidéo). We will continue to explore tout in another lesson. Merci pour tout! (Thanks for everything!)

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How to Render Rendre - Part 2

In our first lesson on rendre, we learned that the verb can mean "to give back," "to return," and "to render." In this lesson, we'll explore some expressions with rendre whose meanings go beyond giving/going back or rendering.


As we briefly mentioned in our previous lesson, the phrase rendre service means “to do a favor” or “to help” (literally, "to render a service"). In the video below, Sacha needs a favor from Dr. Dubois, aka Nico:


Est-ce que tu peux me rendre service ?

Can you do me a favor?

Caption 34, Extr@ Ep. 7 - La jumelle - Part 5

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Ideally, Sacha needs Nico to be willing to help and “be of service,” like the person in this video:


Moi, tu sais, si je peux rendre service

Me, you know, if I can be of service

Caption 15, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 4

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In the broader sense of the phrase, rendre service simply means “to help”—or not, as in the case of Pauline, the ungrateful guest in the video below:


Petit à petit, elle refuse de rendre service.

Little by little, she refuses to help.

Caption 3, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai été séquestré par mes amis - Part 4

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We also have the expression rendre hommage (to pay tribute/homage). On the anniversary of the death of famous singer Serge Gainsbourg, many artists wanted to rendre hommage to him:


Aujourd'hui le gratin du rock anglais rend hommage à Serge Gainsbourg, à commencer par Placebo.

Today the elite of English rock pays tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, starting with Placebo.

Caption 17, Le Journal Gainsbourg

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On a lighter note, we have the phrase rendre visite (to pay someone a visit). Our Yabla guide David encourages viewers to lui rendre visite (visit him) and explore his home country of Martinique:


Si un jour vous avez le bonheur de nous rendre visite

If one day you have the pleasure of visiting us

Caption 4, David Les animaux

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Note that if David had been talking about visiting Martinique, he would have said this instead: 


Si un jour vous avez le bonheur de visiter la Martinique

If one day you have the pleasure of visiting Martinique


So, use rendre visite for visiting people and visiter for visiting places.


Speaking of places, the verbal phrase se rendre à/dans means “to go to (a place)." Se rendre is equivalent to aller (to go). In the video below, Fanny and Corrine suggest se rendre dans des magasins (going to shops) to bargain-hunt:


Pour bien commencer le printemps, on vous propose de vous rendre dans des magasins

To get spring off to a good start, we suggest you go to shops

Caption 11, Fanny & Corrine parlent de la mode La mode à bas prix

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You can also use the reflexive verb se rendre in a variety of expressions, such as se rendre compte, which means “to realize” or “to become aware of.” The teenager in the video below se rend compte (realizes) that something is not right:


L'adolescente se rend bien compte que quelque chose ne va pas.

The teenage girl quickly realizes that something isn't right.

Caption 14, Le Jour où tout a basculé Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 4

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(For more information on ways to use compte [count], see this Yabla lesson.) In the non-reflexive form (without the se), the verbal phrase rendre compte means “to report” or “give an account”:


Oui, mais d'abord, on rend compte à Oméga.

Yes, but first we report to Omega.

Caption 25, Il était une fois: L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 3

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Going back to se rendre compte: once you've realized something, you might be forced to se rendre à l'évidence (come to terms with the evidence). Something that is extremely difficult to do for this couple, who discovered that their baby was switched at birth: 


Pourtant, ils doivent se rendre à l'évidence.

However, they must come to terms with the evidence.

Caption 30, Le Jour où tout a basculé Nos bébés ont été échangés... - Part 4

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Another way to translate se rendre à l’évidence is “to face the facts”:


Henri doit se rendre à l'évidence.

Henri must face the facts.

Caption 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé Ma mère fait tout pour briser mon couple - Part 7

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Once you have come to terms with the evidence, you may come to the awful realization that it would be wise “to surrender”—se rendre. This is actually the infinitive form of rendez-vous, which, as a command, doesn't refer to "a date" or "meeting" (un rendez-vous), but rather an order to give yourself up:


Rendez-vous ! Vous êtes cernée !

Surrender! You're surrounded!

Caption 85, Mère & Fille Camping Cour

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Or, less harshly, a suggestion to go somewhere:


Pour vous abonner à Yabla, rendez-vous sur la page S'abonner.

To subscribe to Yabla, go to the Subscribe page. 

As you can see, there are many ways to render rendre, from giving back, to going places, to surrendering. Now that vous vous êtes rendu(e) compte (you've become aware) of rendre’s many uses, rendez hommage (pay homage) to the word rendre by using it. Stay tuned and rendez-vous to Yabla for a future lesson!

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How to Render Rendre (or Give It Back!)

The verb rendre is a handy verb to know, especially when you need to give something back, as it means just that, “to give back” or “to return": 


Nous ne sommes pas belliqueux et tout disposés à rendre nos prisonniers.

We're not warlike, and quite willing to give back our prisoners.

Caption 6, Il était une fois: L’Espace 3. La planète verte - Part 7

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Donc c'est l'endroit où tu peux emprunter des livres mais tu dois les rendre ensuite.

So this is the place where you can borrow books, but you have to return them later.

Captions 65-66, Français avec Nelly Les faux amis - Part 1

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But rendre does not just mean “to return” an item to its owner or “to bring back” a person where they belong. It also means “to make” something happen, either good or bad. In the example below, it is something positive, rendre l’air plus sain (making the air healthier): 


Les plantes ont-elles des vertus dépolluantes ? Suffisent-elles à rendre l'air plus sain ?

Plants, do they have depolluting properties? Are they sufficient to make the air healthier?

Captions 1-2, Grand Lille TV Plantes = Air intérieur sain, une idée reçue?

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Or rendre can refer to something negative, as in rendre malade (to make someone sick) or rendre fou (to make/drive someone crazy), as shown in the next two examples:


Ça me rend malade

It makes me sick

Caption 14, Le Jour où tout a basculé J'ai volé pour nourrir mon fils - Part 5

 Play Caption


Mais enfin, c'est pas possible! Ils vont me rendre fou!

But really, this isn't possible! They're going to drive me crazy!

Caption 2, Il était une fois: la vie 6. Les petites plaquettes - Part 5

 Play Caption


Note that although we say “to make” in English, we cannot use faire in instances like this, as explained in this lesson.


Sometimes, rendre is best translated as its English cognate, "to render":


Nous, on va les rendre consommables.

We're going to render them consumable.

Caption 14, Le saviez-vous? La Maison de l'Olive à Nice - Part 2

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Both French and English use the verb rendre/"render" to refer to depicting something artistically. In the video below, the artist "renders" the work in black and white instead of color to achieve a timeless effect:


Notamment pour le rendre aussi le noir et blanc, ça donne quelque chose d'assez intemporel.

Notably to render it also, the black and white gives it something quite timeless.

Captions 104-105, Le saviez-vous? La pratique de dessin de Maxime Duveau

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Rendu, the past participle of rendre, can be used as a noun in an artistic context: un rendu (a rendering).


Le résultat: des tableaux au rendu très naturel

The result: paintings with a very natural rendering

Captions 7-8, Le Mans TV Le Mans: Ouverture d'un nouvel atelier d'artistes

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Rendre can also mean "to render" in a legal context, as in rendre un verdict (to render a verdict):


La justice a rendu son verdict.

The courts have rendered their verdict.

Caption 47, Le Jour où tout a basculé Je me suis fait voler ma musique - Part 7

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The past participle rendu also can be found in the expression service rendu, equivalent to "services rendered" in English. In the example below, we're talking about medical services:


Le Comité économique des produits de santé fixe les prix en fonction de l'amélioration du service médical rendu

The Economic Committee for Medicinal Products sets prices according to the improvement of the medical service rendered

Captions 45-46, France 24 Découvrez le parcours du médicament : Du laboratoire à la pharmacie

 Play Caption


In conclusion, we hope that this lesson vous a rendu service (was helpful to you) and that you discovered some new ways of using rendre. But we have not exhausted the subject yet! There are many other expressions involving rendre, so stay tuned for another lesson. Thank you for reading!

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"Many" in So Many Ways

Did you know that there are beaucoup (many) ways of saying "many" in French? In fact, French offers an abundance of terms to suit various styles, from common, conversational, colloquial to more formal and literary. In this lesson we will explore alternatives to the ubiquitous beaucoup.


But first, let's take a quick look at beaucoup (many, a lot). In Yabla videos, you will often come across the construction beaucoup de (a lot of/a great deal of). Here is one example: 


Ben, on te souhaite, ben, beaucoup de réussite

Well, we wish you, well, a great deal of success

Caption 106, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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As an adverb, beaucoup can also stand on its own. You are probably familiar with the polite expression merci beaucoup (thank you very much):


Ben merci beaucoup, hein. C'était un plaisir.

Well thank you very much, you know. It's been a pleasure.

Caption 108, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

 Play Caption


A close cousin to beaucoup de is plein de (plenty of), which is slightly more casual. In this cheerful video, the weather forecaster wishes her viewers a Happy Halloween, which, of course, involves eating plein, plein de bonbons


Alors je vous souhaite une super fête et mangez plein, plein, plein de bonbons. Tchao-tchao.

So I wish you a great holiday and eat lots and lots and lots of candies. Ciao-ciao.

Caption 18, Alsace 20 Météo des Maquilleurs

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Slightly more colloquial than plein de (plenty of) is un tas de or des tas de, literally "a load of" or "heaps of." Take a look at the two examples below:


Mais on peut lui demander des tas d'autres choses

But we can request loads of other things from it

Caption 20, Il était une fois: Notre Terre 25. Technologies - Part 7

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Si vous êtes végétarienne, y a des tas d'autres choses

If you're vegetarian, there're heaps of other things

Caption 28, Mon Lieu Préféré Rue des Rosiers - Part 2

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Un tas de can also be translated as “plenty of”:


Ah, c'est bien simple. Il peut y avoir des tas de raisons

Ah, it's quite simple. There could be plenty of reasons for that

Caption 39, Il était une fois: la vie 6. Les petites plaquettes - Part 1

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There's also the expression pas mal de (a great deal of), which we've explored before. In the video below, the person interviewed has pas mal de problèmes de santé (quite a few health problems):


J'ai un pacemaker et pas mal de choses. 

I have a pacemaker and quite a few things. 

Caption 20, Actu Vingtième Le Repas des anciens

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Moving up a rung on the formality ladder, we have the idiomatic expression bien d’autres (many others), which has a more neutral tone (note that bien in this case no longer means “well," but “many”): 


...telle cette espèce de saladier que vous voyez là à l'image, et bien d'autres.

...such as this sort of salad bowl that you see here in the picture, and many others.

Caption 13, David La calebasse

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Similarly, énormément de (an emormous amount of) followed by a noun is used to emphasize quantity:


énormément de musique

an enormous amount of music

Caption 32, Alex Terrier Le musicien et son jazz

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Depending on context, it's sometimes better to translate énormément de as “(so) many” or “a great deal of”:


Donc ce sera une ligne très intéressante parce qu'il y a énormément de personnes qui vont travailler en dehors de Paris

So it will be a very interesting line because there are so many people who go to work outside of Paris

Captions 46-48, Adrien Le métro parisien

 Play Caption


Vous allez découvrir d'autres petits secrets de cette rue parce qu'il y en a énormément.

You're going to discover other little secrets of this street because there are a great deal of them.

Captions 63-64, Adrien Rue des Martyrs

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On a more formal register, you may come across the adjective maint, which is etymologically related to the English "many." Interestingly, maint does not need to be followed by de (of), unlike other adverbs of quantity. Maintes (the feminine plural of maint) is often combined with fois to form the expression maintes fois (many times):


Elles ont d'ailleurs été maintes fois représentées par des célèbres peintres

Incidentally, they've been depicted many times by famous painters

Caption 10, Voyage en France La Normandie: Honfleur

 Play Caption


There is also a more obscure equivalent to maint: the archaic adjective moult, dating back to the 16th century. It's no longer in use, but it might be a good word to know if you want to impress your professors with your knowledge! To quote French writer Gustave Flaubert, you could derive moult satisfaction (much satisfaction) from their reaction:


J'embrasserai ta vieille trombine avec moult satisfaction.

I will kiss your old face with much satisfaction.

Gustave Flaubert, Correspondance


While people seldom use the word moult other than for effect, young people especially might like to use a little slang and say pas des masses (not many/not much). Interestingly, the expression is always in the negative form: 


Il n’y en a pas des masses.

There are not many.


As you can see, there are beaucoup de façons (many ways) to say beaucoup, and if you wish to know even more, see this Larousse entry. You now have plenty to choose from, as there are different options for all contexts, from casual settings to more formal ones. Just be aware of the tone you wish to use. Save des tas de for friends, and moult for literary buffs. 

Wishing you beaucoup de satisfaction in your French learning, and merci beaucoup or moult remerciements (many thanks) for reading!

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Supervising the Cadre

In a previous lesson on French art vocabulary, we learned that “le cadre is the frame around a painting or photograph.” In this lesson, we will focus on other meanings of cadre (frame) that are not related to art. In the process, we will also discuss related vocabulary such as encadrement (frame, management) and encadrer (to frame, supervise) that are also not always art-related.


Indeed, un cadre can take on a more figurative meaning. In the example below, it means “an environment”:


On a un cadre qui est vraiment agréable donc les gens viennent.

We have an environment that is really pleasant, so people come.

Caption 59, Le Mans TV Mon Village - Malicorne - Part 1

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Or, un cadre is simply “a space,” an interior space:


On a pris une décoratrice d'intérieur pour nous faire un cadre vraiment zen, épuré

We took on an interior designer to make us a really Zen, clean space

Caption 18, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: à l'Anatable à Dinsheim

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As mentioned in the previous lesson, "un cadre is also the word for 'framework' (as in the expression dans le cadre de, 'within the framework of')":


Donc là on leur met - et bien évidemment dans le cadre de ce suivi - une bague du Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Paris

So there we put on them - and quite obviously within the framework of this follow-up - a ring from the Paris Museum of Natural History

Captions 13-14, Canal 32 Les secrets des cailles des blés

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The expression dans le cadre de can also mean “within the context of”:


et que ça rentre aussi tout à fait dans le cadre du vivre-ensemble

and that it also falls really well within the context of harmonious living

Caption 38, Actus Quartier Fête de quartier Python-Duvernois - Part 4

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You might come across a less common meaning of dans le cadre de: “as part of,” as in part of an event, such as the anniversary of a wine route: 


Oui. C'est un petit peu aussi dans le cadre du soixantième anniversaire de la route des vins.

Yes. It's a little bit also as part of the sixtieth anniversary of the wine route.

Caption 6, Alsace 20 100 recettes pour 100 vins

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In short, un cadre refers to a space, environment, setting, framework, or context. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s also the word for "executive" or "manager." For example, the mother in the following video is une cadre supérieure (a top executive):


Mère de famille, cadre supérieure

Mother of a family, top executive

Caption 7, Le Jour où tout a basculé À l'audience - Arnaque en couple ? - Part 2

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And it seems logical that un poste d’encadrement should refer to "a management position":


Découvrons un premier exemple pour un poste d'encadrement.

Let's discover a first example, for a management position.

Caption 64, QuestionEntretien Pourquoi vous et pas un autre ? - Part 3

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Likewise, the verb encadrer means “to organize” or “supervise.” (Note that in an art context, encadrer means to frame a picture or a photograph.) In the video below, the speaker mentions that the annual Paris-Plage event was bien encadré (well organized) thanks to its constant supervising and monitoring:


C'est toujours, euh... bien encadré.

It's always, uh... well organized.

Caption 24, Lionel L Paris-Plage - Part 2

 Play Caption


Encadrer is synonymous with surveiller (to supervise, monitor, surveil):


Il y a toujours des gens pour encadrer, surveiller.

There are always people to supervise, monitor.

Caption 29, Lionel L Paris-Plage - Part 2

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Encadré in the broader sense of the word means “taken care of.” In the following video, the speaker would like to go on a cruise where everything is encadré:


Tout est encadré.

Everything is taken care of.

Caption 40, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 1

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However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, encadré can imply excessive interference to the point of feeling restricted. In the video below, Youssef Ben Amar, a contender in the legislative race, tries to debunk the myth that politics is about imposing restrictions:


On nous a vendu le mot "politique" comme quelque chose de très encadré

We've been sold the word "politics" as something very restricted

Captions 14-15, Le Mans TV Youssef Ben Amar, un rappeur engagé en politique

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Worse still, encadrer is not just a criticism—it can also describe something or someone you can't stand:


Je ne peux pas me les encadrer.

I can't stomach them.

Caption 85, Le saviez-vous? Comment dire qu'on n'aime pas?

 Play Caption


So, to sum up, encadrer has many meanings, ranging from “to frame," "to supervise", "to organize," "to loathe.” The Yabla team will make sure that you’re bien encadré or bien encadrée (well taken care of) thanks to our numerous videos.


\Wishing you every success dans le cadre de Yabla! Thank you for reading.

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What's Left of Rester

In our previous lesson, we learned that rester is a false cognate meaning "to stay/to remain." In this lesson, we will continue to explore the various uses of rester and focus on the impersonal verb il reste (there remains). We will also look at the meaning of le reste (the rest) as a noun.



The phrase il reste is a bit tricky as it does not necessarily mean "he/it stays." Indeed, the construction il reste is what we call an impersonal verb, as the subject of the sentence (il) doesn’t stand for anything or anyone in particular. Hence the translation of il reste is open to interpretation and will vary. The impersonal pronoun il can be equivalent to "there" in English. In the example below, the construction il reste + noun means "there’s also" in the context of the video:


Et ensuite il reste un dessert en supplément à deux euros soixante

And afterward there's also a dessert for an additional two euros sixty

Caption 10, Alsace 20 - Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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In another example, we have the expression ce qu’il en reste, which simply means "what’s left of it." Il is omitted in the translation as it only has a grammatical function in French and is therefore not needed in English:


Ce qu'il en reste.

What remains of it.

Caption 14, Arles - Un Petit Tour d'Arles

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Il reste (there remains) often comes in a negative form, such as il ne reste que... This is a very useful expression to convey that "only x remains":


Maintenant il ne reste que le cadre.

Now only the frame remains.


Another variation of il ne reste que is il ne reste plus que, which means "there remains only":


Du fait de nombreuses fusions,

Because of many mergers,

il ne reste plus qu'une société anonyme de cartes de crédit

there remains only one limited liability credit card company

Caption 15, Patricia - Pas de crédit dans le monde des clones

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Il ne reste plus que can also translate as "all that’s left":


Aujourd'hui, derrière, malheureusement,

Today, behind it, unfortunately,

il ne reste plus qu'un parking.

all that's left is a parking lot.

Caption 25, Voyage en France - Fontainebleau

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And there is yet another way to interpret il ne reste plus que. It can also mean "there is only x left":


Il ne reste plus que cette porte

There is only this door left

Caption 22, Voyage en France - Fontainebleau

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We also have the negative expression il ne reste plus rien, which means "there’s nothing left":


Donne-moi tout, même quand il [ne] reste plus rien

Give it all to me, even when there's nothing left

Caption 1, Corneille - Comme un fils

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What’s more, you can even throw a personal pronoun such as me in the mix. In the example below, we have il ne me reste plus qu’à, which is a complex turn of phrase best translated as "all that remains for me":


Il [ne] me reste plus qu'à vous souhaiter un très bon appétit

All that remains for me to do is wish you a very good appetite

Caption 114, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 3

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Indeed, French speakers often insert a personal pronoun in between il reste, as in il nous reste (we still have). The personal pronoun nous becomes the subject pronoun "we":


Il nous reste encore quelques minutes de cuisson pour le homard.

We still have a few minutes of cooking time left for the lobster.

Caption 15, 4 Mains pour 1 Piano - Médaillon de Homard - Part 2

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In another video, il ne nous reste plus que translates as "we only have x remaining":


Et là, il [ne] nous reste plus que deux colonnes de marbre

And here we only have two marble columns remaining

Caption 16, Arles - Un Petit Tour d'Arles

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The expression il ne vous reste plus grand-chose (you don’t have much left) works in a similar way. Once again, the personal pronoun (vous) becomes the subject in English: 


Et ça a bien marché puisqu'il [ne] vous reste plus grand-chose.

And business has been good since you don't have that much left.

Caption 52, Arles - Le marché d'Arles

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There are many other ways of using il reste, which you can explore here. All this may seem a bit complicated, but fortunately, when reste is used as a noun, it's much simpler! Le reste is a direct cognate that simply means "the rest":


Tout le reste du temps, je dors là où je suis assise

The rest of the time, I sleep right where I'm sitting

Caption 15, Le Journal - Les navigateurs du Vendée Globe

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However, the plural les restes takes on a new meaning. Now we're talking about "leftovers" or "leftover food":


Bon, souvent parce qu'il y a des restes,

Well, often because there are leftovers,

donc il faut éliminer les restes.

so it's necessary to eliminate the leftovers.

Caption 9, TV Vendée - Fêtes de fin d’année : manger léger et équilibré

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Finally, to be clear, "to rest" in English is NOT rester but se reposer or reposer:


Tu peux admirer le paysage et te reposer.

You can admire the scenery and rest.

Caption 45, Le saviez-vous? - Comment voyager?

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Maintenant, on va la laisser reposer

Now we are going to let it rest

Caption 32, Alsace 20 - Grain de Sel: le Lycée hôtelier Alexandre Dumas

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Now that you have worked so hard, il ne vous reste plus qu’à vous reposer (there is nothing left for you to do but rest)!

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When Rester Won't Rest

Sometimes, the meaning of a French word is easy to guess when it looks similar to an English word. However, for every cognate, there are just as many false cognates. And yet, il en reste encore beaucoup (there are still many more) that are worthy of our attention. In this lesson, we will look at the word rester, which—you guessed it—is un faux ami (a false cognate) and doesn’t mean “to rest." So what does it really mean? 


The basic meaning of rester is “to stay/to remain.” In the example below, it means “to stay put”: 


Bouge pas de là, Léon. Tu restes ici!

Do not move from here, Leon. You stay here!

Caption 5, Les zooriginaux - 3 Qui suis-je?

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A more forceful variation of Tu restes ici! is the idiomatic expression Reste tranquille! (Keep still!), which is often used to control restless children:


Restez tranquilles, les enfants!

Keep still, children!


You can also use rester (to stay) for all sorts of situations, as in rester en contact (to stay in contact):


Par ailleurs, Manon est restée en contact avec Émilie.

Moreover, Manon stayed in contact with Émilie.

Caption 30, Le Jour où tout a basculé - Nos bébés ont été échangés...

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Rester also means "to remain,” as we mentioned earlier. The tour guide at Joan of Arc's house uses rester to tell us where Joan’s family lived for a long time:


Mais le principal de sa famille est effectivement restée en Lorraine.

But the majority of her family indeed remained in Lorraine.

Caption 56, Lionel - La maison de Jeanne d'Arc

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It’s important to note that rester is one of the few verbs that require the auxiliary être (to be) in the passé composé. Patricia discusses this in a video on the subject:


Et comme tu es resté(e) concentré(e) depuis toutes ces leçons

And since you've remained focused for all these lessons

Caption 5, Le saviez-vous? - Exception dans les verbes du 1er groupe au passé composé

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Rester is also used in the present tense, of course. For example, we have the expression ça reste (that remains). In the example below, ça (that) becomes redundant in English and is therefore omitted: 


Ouais, très bonne question.

Yeah, very good question.

Donc, le plat du jour c'est sûr, ça reste un produit d'appel.

So the daily special certainly remains a promotional product.

Caption 17, Alsace 20 - Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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Ça reste sometimes means “it's/these are still”:


Rappeler effectivement aux gens que ça reste des produits de confiserie, c'est pas une mauvaise mesure

Indeed, to remind people that these are still sweets, it's not a bad idea

Caption 14, Le Journal - Publicité anti-calories

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On a l'impression d'être secoué, mais ça reste très agréable.

You have the feeling of being shaken, but it's still very pleasant.

Caption 16, À la plage avec Lionel - La plage

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Il reste encore (there is still) the expression il reste (there remains), which we will discuss in a future lesson. Merci d’être resté(e) concentré(e) pendant toute cette leçon (thank you for staying focused throughout this lesson)!

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How Would You Like Your Coffee?

Coffee… For many, it’s more than a drink: it’s a pastime, it’s a passion. France is indeed a coffee-drinking nation, and for French people there is no greater pleasure than sipping on une tasse de café (a cup of coffee) on the terrasse (terrace) of a local café while watching the world go by. Do you know how to order a cup of coffee in a French café? The French have their own distinctive habits and ways of enjoying their café. Let's find out what they are and explore some coffee-related vocabulary. 


French people enjoy prendre le café (having coffee, literally "taking coffee") in un café:


Il y a un café pas loin d'ici.

There's a café not far from here.

Caption 73, Conversations au parc - Ep. 3: C'est à qui ce sac à dos ?

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Après on va prendre le café,

Afterward we go for coffee,

après on va... cuisiner les produits du marché.

afterward we go... cook the products from the market.

Caption 34, Arles - Le marché d'Arles

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On a nice day, people like to drink their coffee sur la terrasse (on the terrace), even if they have to pay a little more for the privilege. In some cafés or restaurants, coffee is often plus cher en terrasse (more expensive on the terrace) than at le comptoir (the counter):


Je prendrai mon café sur la terrasse.

I will take my coffee on the terrace.

Caption 21, Le saviez-vous? - La conjugaison au présent, au passé et au futur

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Le comptoir (the counter) is the place where you can order and pay for your coffee:


Tu t'es levée et t'as payé au comptoir

You stood up and you paid at the counter

Caption 20, Oldelaf - Les mains froides

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But before we pay for our coffee, let's find out how to order it. If you simply ask for un café, you'll get an espresso, typically served in a small china cup with two sugar cubes on the saucer and often with a glass of water. It’s a coffee that is similar to what Sacha serves her boss Barbarella at work, un café noir et sans sucre (black, no sugar):


Apporte-moi un café, noir, sans sucre.

Bring me a coffee, black, no sugar.

Caption 28, Extr@ - Ep. 10 - Annie proteste

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If you want milk in your coffee, you will have to specify. You may opt for un café noisette, espresso topped with a splash of milk, which gives it a rich noisette (hazelnut) color, NOT a hazelnut flavor:


Un café noisette, s’il vous plaît.

A coffee with a splash of milk, please.


If you want cream or a bit more milk in your coffee, you should ask for un café crème or un crème (strictly speaking, this is coffee with a cream foam, though sometimes milk is used):


Un café crème, s'il vous plaît.

A coffee with cream foam, please.


There is also what we call un café au lait (coffee with milk). This usually isn't available in cafés, as it is a breakfast beverage consumed at home. Indeed, many French people start their day with un bol ("a bowl," or a large cup held with both hands) de café au lait. Joanna shows us where she keeps her bols (bowls) and her tasses (cups) in her apartment:


Et ici un petit buffet avec des assiettes,

And here, a small cabinet with plates,

des bols, des verres, des tasses...

bowls, glasses, cups...

Caption 33, Joanna - Son nouvel appartement

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Instead of a café au lait, you may prefer a weaker coffee with extra water, in which case you'll ask for un café allongé (a long/diluted coffee) or un café américain (an americano, or espresso with hot water). Since it's espresso-based, French coffee is stronger and comes in smaller cups than American drip coffee. The coffee roaster in the video below sells all kinds of coffees best suited for making café allongé and américain:


C'est vraiment pour les gens qui aiment... le genre... café américain.

It's really for  people who like... americano-style coffee.

Justement, on dit ça, café très allongé.

Indeed, that's what we say, a very diluted coffee.

Captions 39-40, Joanna - Torréfaction du faubourg

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Other coffee varieties have a very mild flavor better suited for une cafetière à piston (a French press):


Donc c'est un café assez doux

So it's a coffee that is quite mild,

qui est très bien dans la cafetière à piston.

that is very good in a French press.

Caption 33, Joanna - Torréfaction du faubourg

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At the other end of the spectrum, there are much stronger coffees to help you kickstart your day. You can order un café serré (a strong coffee), which comes in a tiny cup. There is even a special word to describe a super strong coffee: un café corsé, or alternately un café bien fort (“very strong coffee”). That is exactly how coffee-addict Oldelaf likes it in his tongue-in-cheek song "Le Café": 


Pour bien commencer / Ma petite journée / Et me réveiller /

To get a good start / To my nice day / And to wake myself up /

Moi j'ai pris un café / Un arabica / Noir et bien corsé

Me, I had a coffee / An arabica / Black and quite strong

Captions 1-6, Oldelaf et Monsieur D - Le Café

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He also occasionally likes un déca (decaf) long as it’s re-caféiné (recaffeinated)!


Je commande un déca / Mais en re-caféiné

I order a decaf / But recaffeinated

Captions 47-48, Oldelaf et Monsieur D - Le Café

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At home, you may prefer instant coffee, un café en poudre (powdered coffee), which you can also use for flavoring desserts:


Mais on peut la parfumer avec des gousses de vanille,

But we can flavor it with vanilla pods,

avec du café en poudre...

with coffee powder...

Captions 45-46, Le Monde - Astuce de chef : comment préparer et décorer des biscuits pour Noël ?

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As you can see, there are many options for different tastes. You can find a more comprehensive list of types of coffees available in France on this page. Here is a summary for you:


un café noir - black coffee (espresso)

un café crème - coffee with cream foam

un café noisette - coffee with a splash of milk

un café allongé - coffee with hot water

un café serré - very strong coffee

un décafféiné/un décadecaf coffee

un café en poudre - instant/powdered coffee


One more thing. Le pourboire (tipping) is not required in France, but it is good form to leave a little something. A few coins on the table will suffice. 


That’s it for our aroma-filled tour. Now you can confidently order une tasse de café (a cup of coffee) in a French café. Enjoy!

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