French Expression of the Day: Cinq à sept

Spoiler alert: cinq à sept has nothing to do with punctuality.

French Expression of the Day: Cinq à sept

Why do I need to know cinq à sept?

If you ever want to channel your inner clichéd Frenchman – or woman, come to that  – then cinq à sept is the expression for you.

So what does it mean?

Un cinq à sept is a typical French expression to describe an affair. The expression, which literally translates to 'five to seven', comes from the hour at which work days ends 5pm, and the time is dinner is served at home, 7pm. 

Un cinq à sept used to refer to any kind of activities you would dedicate yourself to in this two-hour period, be it friendly apéros or working out. 

However in France, the meaning of the expression was soon only understood as a euphemism for adultery. Cinq à sept is used to talk about both the lover and the affair.

J'ai rendez-vous avec mon cinq à sept après le boulot! – I have a rendez-vous with my lover after work!

Ils ont réservé une chambre pour un cinq à sept, c'est évident. – They booked a room for an affair, this is so obvious.

These days most French people finish working later than 5pm and the increase in home working, freelancing and remote working means that the 5-7 tradition is kind of dying out. That's not to say that people have stopped having affairs, of course, just that there's a rather more flexible timeframe these days.

Which may be contributing to this expression's rather old-fashioned image. While it's still widely understood in France, these days it is not much used, particularly among younger  French people.

If you want a slightly more up-to-date expression to describe your romantic exploits you could use une aventure –  which specifically means an affair or sexual exploits, not an adventure, as many an Anglophone has discovered to their embarrassment when they start cheerily telling people Je suis venu à Paris pour une aventure (I've come to Paris to have an affair).

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French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener