French Expression of the Day: Faire des chichis

Whether you want to describe something over the top or no frills, find out what all the fuss is about when people faire des chichis.

French Expression of the Day: Faire des chichis
Photo: Deposit Photos

Why do I need to know Faire des chichis?

Whether you want to describe something over the top or no frills, find out what all the fuss is about when people faire des chichis.

What does faire des chichis mean?

One definition of chichi is ‘doughnut’, so someone could literally faire des chichis, or 'make the doughnuts', for example Il a fait de délicieux chichis aux pommes. (He made some delicious apple doughnuts.)

But chichi is also commonly defined in everyday French as meaning some kind of over the top ‘fuss’ or ‘extravagance’.

So someone might faire des chichis (make a fuss) by making things more complicated than they need to be or causing unnecessary problems, for example il fait des chichis à propos de rien (he makes a fuss about nothing.)

Along the same lines, faire des chichis can also mean that someone is making things complicated by ‘putting on airs’. Used in this way, the expression implies that someone or something is fussy in a pretentious or over the top way. 

For example, if you go over to someone’s house for an apéro and they have waiters serving food you might think that ils font toujours trop de chichis pour recevoir des amis. (they always go over the top when their friends are coming over.) 

You might even describe this kind of person as à chichis, for example ce sont des gens à chichis. (they are pretentious.)

On the other hand, if you are invited to a party sans chichis (‘without fuss’ or ‘no frills’) you can be sure there will be a relaxed and genuine atmosphere, and no one will judge the kind of wine you bring with you. You can use this expression like On fait une soirée simple sans chichis. (We’re having a simple, relaxed get together. )

How can I use it?

Les passagers ont désormais le choix, et les vols à bas prix et sans chichis sont au goût du jour. 

Air passengers now have choice, and low-fare, no-frills air travel has become the order of the day. 

Comme d'habitude, l'accueil fut chaleureux et sans chichis.

As usual, the welcome was warm and genuine. 

(The above examples are from


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French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.