Why do I need to know ce n’est pas le Pérou?
It’s an old and diplomatic way of saying that something is not top notch.
Ce n’est pas le Pérou literally means ‘it’s not Peru’.
It’s an old French expression inspired by the idea that Peru was the country where you could find Eldorado, the land of gold.
“C'est pas le Pérou !” Le Maire said, and thereby admitted that, for many, €1,500 would not cover all of their expenses. But it was a whole lot more than nothing, he said.
Back in the day when Europeans were searching for Eldorado, they explored the untrodden lands of South America convinced that piles and piles of gold were awaiting them.
So Pérou became incorporated into the language as a symbol of a treasure or fortune.
Use it like this
Saying ce n'est pas le Pérou, is kind of saying 'it's not Eldorado' – it's not a goldmine.
You're not blowing it off as utterly worthless, just casually implying that it's not like you won the lotto.
It is however not that commonly used anymore, so more modern versions are: