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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Faire le pont

This is a vital part of French culture and planning often starts early.

French phrase of the Day is Faire le pont
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know faire le pont?

Because extra-long weekends are the best.

What does it mean?

Faire le pont literally means ‘to do the bridge’ but it actually refers to taking a day off between a public holiday and the weekend to enjoy an extra long break.

In France some public holidays change day from year to year – if they fall on a weekend that is bad luck as you get no extra time off work, if they fall on a Monday or a Friday then you get an extra long weekend and if they fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday you get to ‘do the bridge’.

The expression appeared during the French Second Empire (1852 -1870) and had the same meaning at the time.

It comes from the French word pont (bridge) to symbolise linking two days off. In the same way as you cross from one river bank to the other on a bridge, you cross from a Thursday to a Saturday or from a Sunday to a Tuesday.

Use it like this

Tu fais le pont ce week-end ? – Are you taking a long-weekend this weekend?

Personne n’a pu faire le pont l’année dernier en France à cause de la Covid, et c’est bien dommage. –  Nobody was able to go away on a long weekend last year in France because of Covid, and that’s too bad.

Synonyms

Chômer – to stop working because of a national bank holiday (can also mean to be unemployed, however être au chômage is more commonly used)

If you’re feeling extra crazy and want to take not one but TWO days off, you are not doing le pont but le viaduc. Faire le viaduc (do the viaduct) means taking two days off (either the Monday and the Tuesday or the Thursday and Friday) around a public holiday that falls on a Wednesday.

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For members

FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

You might do this while gardening or while reading the tabloids.

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

Why do I need to know découvrir le pot aux roses?

Because if you enjoy celebrity gossip, then you probably will find good use for this phrase

What does it mean?

Découvrir le pot aux roses – pronounced day-coov-rear le pot-oh rose – literally translates to ‘to discover the pot of roses.’ 

You might use this expression when finding out about some exciting gossip or maybe when discovering what your partner secretly planned for your anniversary, as this phrase in actuality is what you would say when you learn something secret or hidden. 

In English, when discussing secrets, you might say someone has ‘spilled the beans’ or ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ but the French phrase is more about the person who has found out about the hidden item or truth, not the person who told it, as it ‘spill the beans’.

The origins of this French expression are not what you might expect, historically, the phrase has little to do with the flowers.

During the Middle Ages, the verb ‘découvrir’ had the meaning of ‘to lift a lid’ and at the time the phrase ‘pot aux roses’ referred to a small box that wealthy women used to store their perfumes, as well as their makeup. They often used these boxes to keep secrets, letters, or notes that they did not want others to stumble upon.

Use it like this

Pendant l’afterwork, Sarah a raconté à tout le monde les secrets les plus fous sur la vie privée du patron. Je ne comprends pas comment elle a réussi à découvrir le pot aux roses. – During the work happy hour, Sarah told us all about the wildest secrets of our boss’ personal life. I don’t understand how she managed to unearth that gossip.

Il a découvert le pot aux roses lorsqu’il s’est connecté à l’ordinateur de son colocataire pour regarder simplement son mail. – He discovered the secret when he logged onto his roommate’s laptop to just check his email. 

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