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French word of the day: Brumisateur

This expression is a must-know for anyone wanting to cool off in France this summer.

French word of the day: Brumisateur
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know brumisateur?

Because it's allegedly the best way to cool down during coronavirus.

What does it mean?

The word brumisateur literally translates to 'atomizer' or 'sprayer'.

A 'sprayer' is a pretty accurate word for the concept, as a brumisateur is a fan that sprays mists of water to cool off the person on the receiving end.

Whether a large communal spray-fountain or a small spray-bottle purchased at the shop for individual use, brumisateurs are extremely popular in France during the summer.

MAP: How to find cool places in Paris during the heatwave

As temperatures soar, large outdoor brumisateurs appear in public spaces in cities to shower passers-by with mists of cool water.

Passers-by are showered with cool water vapour on the Bassin de la Villette in north-eastern Paris. Photo: AFP

Some bars even install them on their terraces to make sitting outside in the heat a more pleasant experience for customers.

During the 2019 heatwave, brumisateurs were popular attractions for inhabitants in cities like Paris without access to beaches or lakes.



This year has been slightly different due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and French health authorities have issued guidelines on cooling down safely during the pandemic. Luckily, brumisateurs are listed as OK, just remember to keep a one metre distance to others while getting sprayed.

Also, with masks now compulsory in Paris as well as a long series of other towns and cities, remember to change your mask if it gets wet (a damp mask does not offer protection).

Other ways of cooling down in French:

Ventilateur – fan

La clime (short for la climatisation) – air condition 


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For members


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.