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French expression of the day: C’est fade

How to critique food in France like a pro.

French expression of the day: C'est fade
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know c'est fade?

Because it will elevate your food critiquing abilities to Top Chef France levels.

Plus, it will be of use if you're one of the unlucky coronavirus victims who has lost their sense of taste and smell.

What does it mean?

Fade is a French expression people use to say that something is 'tasteless', 'bland', 'boring'.

C'est fade, ça manque de saveur. – 'It's bland, it lacks flavour.'

It’s commonly used for food, and if you’ve watched Top Chef France, you might have heard something like:

Je trouve ce plat très fade, il n’y a ni de goût ni de couleurs ! – ‘I find this dish very bland, there’s no taste or colour!’

In a country like France where “food” means a million more things than just “fuel”, a chef does not want his or her food to be defined as fade.

Like this Twitter user did with a Parisian pizzeria:

“A ruined attempt on a Neapolitan pizza: dough too thin, crust not high enough, bland tomato sauce and, average cheese. Pity.”

While fade is above all a food expression, you can use it in other settings too.
Il est fade, ce tableau. Il ne me transcend pas du tout. – 'What a bland painting. It doesn't appeal to me at all'.
Je trouve ton pull trop fade. – 'I find your sweater so dull.'
Insipide – tasteless
Inintéressant – uninteresting
Ennuyeux – boring

Member comments

  1. I wish there was a button to press so you could hear how it’s pronounced. Is goût à hard g ( goot) or a j (jute). I was pronouncing ongles (on guls) it wasn’t until a laughing french person said (on ger lay) that I realised. So is this pronounced fad?

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For members


French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 


You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).