For members


French Expression of the Day: Donner une tarte

This sounds like a lovely thing to do, right? Wrong.

French Expression of the Day: Donner une tarte
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know donner une tarte? 

To avoid a potentially painful misunderstanding. 

What does it mean? 

Donner une tarte, pronounced don-ay oon tart, literally means to give someone a tart. A lovely gesture, and at the weekends French patisseries have long queues of people waiting to buy a large tart or cake to bring to a lunch or dinner.

But this phrase has a very different meaning – to give someone a punch or a slap. 

Je vais te donner une tarte – I am going to give you a slap 

Elle m’a donne une grosse tarte – She gave me a big slap 

In some contexts, such as a bakery, this expression has the potential to cause a lot of confusion. If in doubt about whether you are going to be given a delicious tart or a slap in the face, try to read the body language and tone of voice of the person speaking.

Some people in France believe that if you bring a tarte aux fraises (strawberry tart) to a dinner party, it is a sign that you are into swinging and ready for things to get steamy – although this is almost certainly an urban myth.

Other tart-related expressions

Tarte can also be used as an adjective to describe something that is simple, easy or stupid. 

C’était de la tarte – It was easy 

C’est un film tarte – It is a stupid film

Quelle tarte – What an idiot 

Member comments

  1. This may dismay a fine US author named Donna Tarte – unless of course she is using it as a pseudonym.

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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