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French expression of the day: Jusqu’à nouvel ordre

It's the answer to many questions about restrictions in France, especially travel rules - but what does it really mean?

French expression of the day: Jusqu'à nouvel ordre
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know jusqu’à nouvel ordre?

Because it’s a great way of being quite vague about dates while sounding quite official, so no wonder governments love it.

What does it mean?

Jusqu’à nouvel ordre can me translated to ‘until the new order’. Jusqu’à means ‘until’ and le nouvel ordre means ‘the new order’.

It means ‘until further notice’.

The French online dictionary l’Internaute defines it as “Jusqu’à ce qu’il en soit décidé autrement. Cela signifie que l’ordre initial prévaut jusqu’à l’édiction d’un ordre ultérieur” – ‘Until something different has been decided. That means that the initial order stands until the giving of a different order’.

Originally military jargon, jusqu’à nouvel ordre is an expression you probably will have heard a lot lately. 

French government officials have used it a lot over the past year to describe rules and restrictions that have no set end date, and the latest restrictions on travel into France from the UK are a good example of something that is in place jusqu’à nouvel ordre – until further notice.

Use it like this

Les bars et les restaurants restent fermés jusqu’au nouvel ordre. – Bars and restaurants will remain closed until further notice.

Quand est-ce que je pourrai rendre visite à ma grand-mère en France ? When can I visit my grandmother in France?

Sauf motif imperieux, les déplacements à partir du Royaume-Uni sont interdits jusqu’à nouvel ordre – Without vital reasons, travel from the UK is forbidden until further notice.

This expression isn’t limited to the coronavirus, of course.

It goes for anything temporarily without a set end-date.

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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.