For members


French expression of the day: Bon pied bon œil

Here's an expression for the golden oldies.

French expression of the day: Bon pied bon œil
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know bon pied bon œil?

Because it's a great way to compliment a healthy senior in French.

What does it mean?

Literally translated bon pied bon œil means 'good foot good eye'.

But it's really an expression French people use to describe healthy seniors. It's what you in English would call being 'fit as a fiddle' or just 'in very good health'.

If you're over 70 and remain healthy and active, you are blessed with the gift of bon pied bon œil.

Use it like this

Ma grand-mère a toujours été une femme extraordinaire. Elle a 85 ans, mais elle a bon pied bon œil ! – My grandmother has always been an extraordinary woman. She's 85, but she's fit as a fiddle!

Comment va ton grand-père ? Ça va, il ne rajeunit pas mais il a encore bon pied bon œil. – How is your grandfather doing? Alright, he's not getting younger but he's fit and healthy.

Il n'est pas question de le placer en maison de retraite tant qu'il a bon pied bon œil. – It's out of the question to put him in a nursing home, he's still fit as a fiddle.

Member comments

  1. I guess that anyone travelling to France can stay in the country for a period shorter than the 14 day “voluntary quarantine” and return to the UK especially if travelling by car. Does anyone have actual experience of this?
    Does anyone know if a return to the UK can be followed within the UK’s “mandatory” 14 day quarantine period by a trip back to France? I need to make a short trip to France before starting our main stay over the summer. Cheers to all!

  2. If you’re in quarantine, then you’re supposed to stay in your house. Travelling to Europe is not staying at home!

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Avoir l’estomac dans les talons

A sensation you might feel around midi after skipping your morning croissant.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir l'estomac dans les talons

Why do I need to know avoir l’estomac dans les talons?

Because you might want to inform your friend waiting in the long restaurant line with you about just how hungry you actually are.

What does it mean?

Avoir l’estomac dans les talons usually pronounced ah-vwar leh-sto-mack dahn lay tah-lonn – literally means to have the stomach in the heels, but it really just means that you are extremely hungry. A British-English equivalent might be ‘my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut’.

As with saying ‘I’m starving’ you wouldn’t use this to talk about people who are genuinely at risk of starvation, it’s just a phrase to complain about being hungry and wanting something to eat.

The expression probably originated around the end of the 19th century, and there are a couple of different ideas about how it came to be.

The first is that it’s intended to paint a picture of your stomach narrowing so much that it goes all the way down to your heels. The second idea proposes that since ‘les talons’ (heels) is a homonym with ‘l’étalon’ (stallion), the phrase might actually be referring to horse meat. You might be so hungry that the only thing that could possibly satiate your empty stomach is a hearty portion of horse meat.

Finally, there’s simply the idea that a person walking a long distance would have severe pain in his heels (or feet), and his hunger is so intense that it is as bad as the pain from walking a long distance.

Regardless of where it comes from, this expression is a sure-fire way to communicate your need for nourishment (or perhaps a nice helping of horse).

 Use it like this

Je ne peux pas attendre plus longtemps dans cette longue file, j’ai l’estomac dans les talons. – I cannot wait in this long line much longer, I’m starving.

Je n’ai pas mangé le déjeuner hier et à 17h, j’avais l’estomac dans les talons. Tout le monde dans le bureau pouvait entendre mon estomac faire du bruit ! – I skipped lunch yesterday and by 5pm I was starving! Everyone in the office could hear my stomach making noise.