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French phrase of the day: C’est le bazar

French phrase of the day: C'est le bazar
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This cheery expression might brighten up slightly chaotic times.

Why do I need to know c’est le bazar?

Because it expands your vocab for saying that things are a mess, which – let’s face it – is a phrase you will need in France.

What does it mean?

Literally, c’est le bazar translates as ‘it’s the bazaar’, referring to those big, crowded outdoor markets that sell anything and everything, which originated in North Africa and the Middle East.

There isn’t really a bazar either when you say ‘it’s the bazar’. A bazaar is a colourful, disorderly, noisy place with lots of jumble, and the expression c’est le bazar means that something is ‘chaotic’ or ‘a mess’.

Quel bazar ! – What a mess!

You might be familiar with the (more explicit) sister expression c’est le bordel, which literally means ‘it’s the brothel’. 

There isn’t really a brothel either, though. Like bazar, brothel highlights that something is a mess, and some French people use c’est le bordel about totally mundane things such as their untidy apartment or traffic jam on the motorway.

Bazar is the more child-friendly version of bordel, and you can use it on any kind of disorderly situation. 

Use it like this

C’était déjà le bazar avant qu’il a pris le relais, mais avec lui comme boss c’est pire que jamais. – It was already a mess before he took over, but with him as the boss it’s worse than ever.

C’est le bazar sur l’autoroute ! Tout le monde rentre des vacances – It’s chaos on the motorway ! Everyone is coming back from their holidays.

C’est un vrai bazar politique cette histoire. – It’s a real political mess this thing.

Synonyms

C’est le bordel – it’s fucking chaos (explicit)


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