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French expression of the day: Remettre le facteur sur le vélo

Don't worry, this is not a tax you pay for biking in France.

French expression of the day: Remettre le facteur sur le vélo
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know remettre le facteur sur le vélo?

Because it's quirky slang expression that has several meanings.

What does it mean?

Tap “remettre le facteur sur le vélo” into Google translate, and you get “put the postman back on the bike”.

If this sounds odd, it is. Remettre le facteur sur le vélo actually is a slang expression that can be translated as 'get back to it', 'get on with it', or 'to get back in the saddle'.

This latter is perhaps the best translation, although remettre en selle is more common.

Its historical roots are said to come from postmen in rural areas being offered powerful home-brewed booze by farmers, which made them a trifle unsteady on their Post Office bikes, but these days it is generally just a way to say 'get back on one's feet' (figuratively).

If you are hungover from yesterday's very boozy evening and bracing yourself for another night out, you can say Allez-hop ! On remet le facteur sur le velo. – Okay! Let's get on with it.

Remettre le facteur sur le vélo can also refer to particularly strong alcohol. If so, it's the drink in question that remet le facteur sur le vélo.

Use it like this

Inutile de traîner les pieds, remettons le facteur sur le vélo. – No use in dragging things out, let's get back in the saddle.

Après la pandémie il nous faudra du temps pour remettre le facteur sur le vélo. – After the pandemic we will need time to get back on our feet.

Dis-donc, ta liqueur fait maison remet le facteur sur le vélo ! – Gosh, your homemade liqueur has a real kick!


Remettre en selle – get back in the saddle


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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.