French Word of the Day: Grenelle

French Word of the Day: Grenelle
If you follow the news in France you will have seen this everywhere recently, but what does it actually mean?

Why do I need to know grenelle?

If you follow French news or politics you will have seen the term all over the TV and the papers as the government launched its Grenelle des violences conjugales – but what is that exactly?


What does it mean?

A grenelle is basically a super-charged version of a plan or a consultation and when it's wheeled out by governments, it means they think that the issue is serious. The current grenelle is on the issue of domestic violence (violence conjugale) which is certainly a crisis – 100 women have been killed by a current or former partner so far this year in France.

But by using the term grenelle, Macron's government is invoking memories of the big moments in France's history.

The term grenelle was first used in 1968, when the government finally reached agreement with the unions, who had been leading huge waves of popular protest against wages and living conditions in France. The agreement between the government and the unions was signed at the Ministry of Labour, which was situated on Rue de Grenelle, so the agreement became known as the Accord de Grenelle.

Since then, it then moved into the language to signify a major consultation or agreement designed to calm deep public discontent.

It was used in the 2000s for programmes to tackle youth poverty and scientific issues but became a more widespread part of the language following Nicolas Hulot's Grenelle de l'environnement in 2007.

For more French words or expression, check out our word of the day section.

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