French word of the Day: Juilletiste

Do you belong to this traditional French tribe?

French word of the Day: Juilletiste
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know juilletiste?

Because it’s important when you are talking about one of France’s most sacred traditions – summer holidays.

What does it mean?

It means July-ist, coming from juillet, the month of July, but it really means someone who takes their summer holiday in July. Those who take their holiday in August are referred to as aoûtiens (from août – August).

Les grandes vacances – the summer holidays – are a big deal in France, with large parts of the population leaving the cities and decamping to the beach or the countryside for a month.

It’s completely normal over the summer for your local bakery, pharmacy, book store etc to close for at least a month while the staff and owners go on vacation, while business emails frequently illicit an automated reply informing you that the employee is out of the office and you should try again in September.

Schools give kids two months off – this year the school year ends on July 8th – so families too can take off for a long break.

Traditionally there was quite a clear distinction between the juilletistes and the aoûtiens, with factories closing in August while professional and middle class workers took their holidays in July.

READ ALSO Juilletistes v Aoûtiens – France’s two summer holiday tribes

These days when you take your holidays is more a matter of personal preference, but there is still a chassé-croisé (crossover chase) weekend at the end of July that sees a huge population movement as the juilletistes return home and the aoûtiens depart for the holidays. If possible, it’s wise to avoid driving on this weekend as the traffic jams can be horrendous.

There’s also a smaller tribe of septembristes – those without kids in school who can take advantage of the cheaper prices but still excellent weather for a holiday. It has the added bonus of being able to gloat at all your juilletiste and aoûtien colleagues who are suffering from post-holiday blues as you head off.

Use it like this

Les juillettistes sont en train de boucler leurs valises et ce vendredi ce sera pour la première fois de l’été rouge sur les routes – The July-ists are packing their bags and this Friday will see the first red traffic warning of the summer.

J’ai toujours été juilletiste, mais mon mec est aoûtien. Nous partons en vacances en juillet, evidemment – I’ve always been one for July holidays, but my boyfriend prefers August. We’re going on holiday in July, obviously.

Les aoûtiens ont réservé tous les hôtels – The August holiday-makers have booked up all the hotels.

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French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener