French Word of the Day: Petit pain

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 24 Jan, 2022 Updated Mon 24 Jan 2022 12:22 CEST
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If you're baffled as to why French people are calling you a little bread roll, read on . . .


Why do I need to know petit pain? 

Because learning the odd regional word will go a long way towards impressing locals at the pub. 

What does it mean?

Petit pain, pronounced "puh-tee pan", literally means "small bread" which in most of France signifies a bread roll.

However in the north east of France this word takes on a different significance altogether. 

If you go to the bakery and ask for a petit pain, you are asking for a chocolate croissant, known in the rest of France as a pain au chocolat or chocolatine -  -he lexicological battle over what to call this delicious pastry has been raging for centuries and is something we at The Local have examined in great detail in the past. 


READ MORE Is it a pain au chocolat or a chocolatine?

Petit pain has another meaning too - it is a way to describe someone who cannot hold their booze. It is the northern French equivalent of calling someone a "lightweight". 

J'ai bu trois verres mais je suis déjà bourré parce que je suis un petit pain - I had three glasses but I'm already drunk because I'm a lightweight 

Je ne bois plus car je suis un petit pain - I am not drinking anymore because I am a lightweight 

Avez-vous des boissons non-alcoolisés? Mon copain est un petit pain - Do you have any non-alcoholic drinks? My boyfriend is a lightweight 

You are particularly likely to hear this place in urban centres of the northeast like Lille. 


A more common, nationwide way of saying that someone gets drunk quickly is: il/elle ne tient pas de l'alcool - he/she does not hold their drink well 



The Local 2022/01/24 12:22

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