French phrase of the Day: Parigot tête de veau

Want to join in with a lively discussion on the manners of Parisians? We have just the phrase.

Why do I need to know Parigot tête de veau?

OK, need might be a strong word, but this is a funny expression if you want to join in with some general slagging off of people from the capital and their ways, which happens more than you might think in the bars of la France profonde.

What does it mean?

Well Parigot is a slang term for Parisians and tête de veau you might be familiar with from menus – calves' head. Put together it is a less than flattering phrase about the inhabitants of France's capital.

French dictionary l'Internaute primly explains that this is “a rhyming expression referring to the bad reputation of Parisians due to their rude and grumpy side”.

READ ALSO French regional stereotypes – grumpy Parisians and drunk northerners

It's fair to say that to the rest of France, Parisians have a certain reputation for being rude, grumpy and snobbish (we'll leave you to make up your own minds on that one, but we've met some delightful Parisians) so this phrase has a general meaning of “arsehole Parisians” in the same way that someone from northern England might refer to Londoners as “shandy-drinking bastards” – it's not the actual phrase that's important, more the sense you are conveying.

The other commonly heard phrase for Parisians is another rhyming one – Parisien tête de chien (dog-headed Parisian) which means broadly the same thing and the two phrases are often heard together.

But don't worry, Parisians have a retort – campagnarde tête de lard – broadly implying that people who live in the French countryside are thick and stubborn.

While we wouldn't advise getting caught up in French culture wars, if you want to learn about the age-old city/countryside conflict in France, check out the comedy song Parigot tête de veau.


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