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?

French Word of the Day: Grenelle

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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French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

The long-range forecast suggests that this will be a handy phrase this summer.

French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

Why do I need to know ça tape?

Because you might want a way to describe the feeling of walking down a long boulevard with no shade in sight…or a techno concert.

What does it mean?

Ça tape usually pronounced sah tap – literally translates to ‘it taps’ or ‘it hits.’ The verb being used is taper, which means to hit or slap, and colloquially can be used to seek monetary support from someone. It is also the verb for ‘to type.’ But when spoken, this phrase does not involve violence, financial assistance, or note-taking.

Ça tape is a way to say ‘it’s scorching’ and complain about the hot weather or the search for shade. If someone uses it under a hot sun, and they say “ça tape”  or “ça tape fort” they’re referring to the particularly violent, piercing heat.

It can also be used to say something is intense, particularly in relation to music. It bears a similar colloquial meaning to the English informal phrase “it hits” or “it’s banging.” For example, you might be at a loud concert listening to a particularly passionate DJ – this might be a good scenario to employ ‘ça tape.’

The first meaning, which refers to the heat, is more commonly used across generations, whereas the second might be heard more from a younger audience. 

 Use it like this

Dès que je suis sortie de l’appartement et que je suis entrée dans la rue, j’ai dit “Ça tape !” car le soleil était si fort.– As soon as I stepped out of the apartment and into the street, I said to myself “it’s blazing!” because the sun was so strong.

Ce festival est incroyable, tout le monde est dans le même esprit. Ouh t’entends cette basse ? Ça tape !  – This festival is amazing, everyone is really in the same mood. Do you hear that bass? It’s banging.