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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Chassé-croisé

Originally a term from the world of ballroom dancing, this is now something that you will want to avoid while in France.

French Expression of the Day: Chassé-croisé
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Chassé-croisé?

Because it’s certain you’ll see this phrase pop up every summer, and you might want to know why ahead of time. 

What does it mean?

Chassé-croisé – pronounced shah-say cwah-zay – means ‘crossover’ or ‘crossroads’ in French, and though it might sound like it is related to hunting (la chasse) it is actually all about traffic. 

Every year, holiday goers who enjoyed their vacations in the month of July (les Juillettistes) cross paths on the return with those heading off on their trips for the month of August (les aoûtiens), leading to a weekend of heavy congestion and traffic throughout the country. So, in a way you might need to do a little hunting during the chassé-croise…to find a parking spot during your pit-stop. 

Typically, the ‘grand’ (big) chassé-croisé is the last weekend of July – this year being the 29th through 31st. 

Interestingly, the expression is borrowed from the world of ballroom dance. In the 19th century, the  “chassé-croisé” involved two dancers – one doing the chassé (a ‘step-together-step’) to the right, and the other doing it to the left. 

While it is typically used for traffic, it can be used in other contexts to simply describe a crossover – like two climbers crossing paths with one another on the mountain: one coming up and the other going down.

Use it like this

Ils s’attendent à de gros bouchons pendant le grand chassé-croisé. Nous devrons partir très tôt le matin. – They are expecting big traffic jams during the crossover holiday weekend. We will have to leave very early in the morning.

Il est préférable d’utiliser le site ‘Bison futé’ pour organiser à l’avance le chassé-croisé, comme ça nous pouvons savoir quelles routes seront les plus encombrées tout au long du week-end. –  It is best to use the website ‘Bison futé’ to plan ahead for the crossover holiday weekend, this way we can know which roads will be the most congested.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

You might do this while gardening or while reading the tabloids.

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

Why do I need to know découvrir le pot aux roses?

Because if you enjoy celebrity gossip, then you probably will find good use for this phrase

What does it mean?

Découvrir le pot aux roses – pronounced day-coov-rear le pot-oh rose – literally translates to ‘to discover the pot of roses.’ 

You might use this expression when finding out about some exciting gossip or maybe when discovering what your partner secretly planned for your anniversary, as this phrase in actuality is what you would say when you learn something secret or hidden. 

In English, when discussing secrets, you might say someone has ‘spilled the beans’ or ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ but the French phrase is more about the person who has found out about the hidden item or truth, not the person who told it, as it ‘spill the beans’.

The origins of this French expression are not what you might expect, historically, the phrase has little to do with the flowers.

During the Middle Ages, the verb ‘découvrir’ had the meaning of ‘to lift a lid’ and at the time the phrase ‘pot aux roses’ referred to a small box that wealthy women used to store their perfumes, as well as their makeup. They often used these boxes to keep secrets, letters, or notes that they did not want others to stumble upon.

Use it like this

Pendant l’afterwork, Sarah a raconté à tout le monde les secrets les plus fous sur la vie privée du patron. Je ne comprends pas comment elle a réussi à découvrir le pot aux roses. – During the work happy hour, Sarah told us all about the wildest secrets of our boss’ personal life. I don’t understand how she managed to unearth that gossip.

Il a découvert le pot aux roses lorsqu’il s’est connecté à l’ordinateur de son colocataire pour regarder simplement son mail. – He discovered the secret when he logged onto his roommate’s laptop to just check his email. 

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