French Expression of the Day: L'Art de vivre

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French Expression of the Day: L'Art de vivre
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French expression encapsulates some of the best parts of life in France


Why do I need to know l’art de vivre?

Because this idea might be part of the reason you enjoy living in or visiting France.

What does it mean?

L'Art de vivre roughly pronounced larr duh vee-vruh – means “the art of living” in English. Conveying an abstract concept about the French approach to life, you might hear this phrase come from the mouth of a French politician, a poet, or just someone looking you an explanation of French culture and society.

Depending on who you ask, the definition might be a bit different, seeing as what constitutes the ‘art of living’ is quite subjective.


Generally, l’art de vivre describes a certain lifestyle, one that has to do with taking the time to place value on the finer things in life, not just the bare essentials. For example, this might include slowing down to appreciate French gastronomy, a well-made film, or a beautiful piece of art.

L’Art de vivre is not about money and does not necessarily mean a life of luxury - it can also mean things like prioritising family time over work or just a life where small joys (or les petits plaisirs) are prioritised. 

Foreigners often talk about the French art of living when admiring certain aspects of the culture, and you may come across blogs or websites with instructions for how you too can perfect the ‘art of living’ à la française.

You can use this expression when talking about France, or when simply offering your opinion on the best way to enjoy life.

Use it like this

Chaque fois que Sarah se rend en France, elle est émerveillée par l'art de vivre des Français, comme par le fait qu'ils s'assoient vraiment pour dîner en famille tous les soirs. – Every time Sarah visits France she is amazed by the French art of living, like how they truly sit down to eat dinner as a family every night.

Il faut essayer d'aller au musée une fois par semaine, cela fait partie de l'art de vivre.– You must try to go to the museum once a week, after all it is part of the art of living.


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