For members


French word of the Day: Train-train

No, this isn't a reference to France's double-decker trains.

French word of the Day: Train-train
French word of the Day: Train-train. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know train-train?

Because if you want a slightly more casual way to express your general ennui with daily life, this is perfect.

What does it mean?

The French word le train is the same as in English, so this literally means train-train (pronounced almost like trahn-trahn).

Its actual use is more metaphorical though, it means the regular routine of daily life – in the same way that trains run on set tracks to a regular schedule, sometimes life can feel as if its just running along the same tracks of commute, work, home, chores, sleep and repeat.

It’s a casual word, although not offensive, and is probably best translated into English as drudge or the daily grind.

It’s sometimes used along with quotidien (daily) to emphasise the point.

Use it like this

Je suis mon petit train-train et tout roule – I keep to my routine and it’s going well

J’en avais marre du train-train quotidien, j’ai donc décidé de partir en voyage – I was fed up of the daily grind so I decided to go travelling

Ils manifestent si souvent que cela fait partie de leur train-train quotidien – They demonstrate so often that it’s become part of their daily routine


French has come up with the lovely – although quite Paris-centric – phrase Métro, boulot, dodo to describe the dull daily routine – it roughly translates as commute, work all day, sleep. 

These days the distinctive phrase is often cannibalised for adverts or political slogans with the dodo (baby-talk for sleep) replaced with the product or idea that the user wishes to promote such as Métro, boulot, apéro used to advertise an alcoholic beverage.

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For members


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