For members


French Word of the Day: Smicard

It's a simple term but it will help you to follow complex discussions.

French Word of the Day: Smicard
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Smicard?

As France hones in on the conversation around the pouvoir d’achat (household purchasing power or the cost of living) and the impacts of inflation, you might hear more talk of these workers in particular. 

What does it mean?

Smicard – pronounced smee-kar – is an informal way of referring to someone who earns minimum wage.

The minimum wage in France is the Salaire minimum de croissance, widely known as le Smic (pronounced smeek). A smicard is therefore someone who is on minimum wage.

READ ALSO The everyday French initials and acronyms to know

It’s not derogatory, it simply means someone who is in work but not earning very much – it’s often used in political contexts to shame politicians over the fact that people working in low-wage but important jobs, such as cleaners, cannot afford to pay their bills.

The so-called “Macron bonus,” which was created in 2019 to respond to complaints made by the working poor, is specifically intended to offer a bonus to workers who make less than three times the Smic. It was originally capped at €1,000, but Macron recently said he wanted to raise the maximum to €6,000.

Use it like this

Il a l’impression que le gouvernement ne soutient pas assez les Smicards.– He feels like the government is not doing enough to support the working poor.

A partir du 1er mai, les Smicards gagneront €10,85 (brut) par heure. – As of May 1st, minimum wage workers will earn €10.85 (pre-tax) per hour.

Quand j’étais un smicard, je mangeais des pâtes cinq fois par semaine – When I was on minimum wage, I ate pasta five times a week 

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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