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French phrase of the Day: Bien sapé

Are you bien sapé? Let's hope so, especially if you're in Paris.

French phrase of the Day: Bien sapé

Why do I need to know bien sapé?

It’s definitely an informal phrase, slang even, but’s a nice phrase to hear and even nicer if it’s being used about you.

What does it mean?

It means well dressed or, given that it’s quite a slangy phrase, maybe well turned out or nattily dressed would be a better translation.

So if you want to describe someone who is notably always well turned out you could say En plus, il est bien sapé – Also, he’s quite the natty dresser.

Elle est adorable et toujours super bien sapée – She is lovely and always so stylishly dressed.

J’ai besoin d’un type intelligent et bien sapé pour le mariage de mon frère – I need an intelligent and well-dressed date for my brother’s wedding.

You will hear talk of type bien sapé or genre bien sapé for a well-dressed type.

The phrase is in general a compliment, but among certain crowds it does also have the connotation of being a bit square and dull.

Des professions libérales: médecins, genre bien sapé – I’m talking professional people; lawyers, doctors – the suit-and-tie crowd.

It’s not quite as uncool as being bon chic bon genre or BCBG though.

Any alternatives

As we mentioned, this is quite informal French, so if you want to describe someone as well dressed you could also use bien habillé or élégant.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.