The French language – more confusion! Learning to speak French.

In no particular order or group, and just as they pop in to my head:-

( * designates that there is an accent missing )


c’est terrible!  does not mean it is terrible, it means that it is great – awesome is a good translation

mortel !  does not mean it is deadly but as above

mon oeil!  in English we’d say “my foot!”  (my eye)

partir a toutes jambes – to leg it  (to leave on all legs) *

il n’y a pas le feu au lac – it’s not the end of the world (there is no fire on the lake)

le feu au fesses – knickers on fire (bottom on fire)

la sardine qui a bouche le port de Marseilles – the straw that broke the camel’s back (the sardine that blocked the port of Marseilles) *

c’est le pied – its the tops (its the foot)

la semaine des 4 jeudis et 3 dimanches – a month of Sundays (the week with 4 Thursdays and 3 Sundays)

s’enfuir a la tire d’aile – to run for one’s life (to run with wings flapping) *

prendre la poudre d’escampette – to run away (verb escamper – ie to decamp)

 couper l’herbe sous le pied – to pip to the post (cut the grass under one’s feet – not quite the same as pulling the rug away)

fauche comme des bles – down at heel (thrashed like wheat) *

le panier perce – holes in pockets * (punctured basket)

l’argent me brule les doigts – money burns holes in my pockets (burns my fingers)

lessive, creve – all done in (washed, punctured) *

patience d’un ange – patience of a saint (of an angel)

les chiens ne font pas des loups – can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (dogs don’t make wolves)

jour et nuit – chalk and cheese (night and day)

tourne la langue 10 fois dans la bouche – count to ten (turn your tongue 10 times in your mouth)

Turquoise Moon  The Moulin Rouge in Paris – many of the dancers are English or American, perhaps Dutch, because they are taller than French girls. The topless-but-untouchable theme was introduced by the English dancer Bluebell who worked in Paris : see link  below

click here for Bluebell

a7 france The Mont St Michel in the north of France, dreadfully, HORRIBLY crowded in July & August

a6 france The Tour de France came through our village near La Rochelle one year.  Behind the cyclists are all the support vehicles, many of them advertising and throwing out nasty little plastic freebies for the spectators. And how the spectators loved them!  Not just children but grown-ups were scrabbing around on the dirt to pick up plastic whistles and peaked caps and fridge magnets. It was hilarious and I found watching them was vastly more fun than watching the cyclists.

a5 french  Although one tends to think of pavement cafes as a typically French things, they are a relatively new idea in our part of France

Turquoise Moon The Pont de Millau in the south of France (English architect), breathtakingly beautiful. We went sky-diving there … as you do at our age (60-mumble-mumble).

a2 french_2_lhero_A1 no caption …

French market  le marche (accent on the e) means a market, but there is a difference between it and le marche forain and le marche aux puces

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site, from Amazon & Kindle or can be ordered from most leading libraries and book stores.  More about Catherine Broughton, to include her sketches and her entertaining blogs, on

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Posted on 14/06/2013 by Catherine
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