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French Expression of the Day: Amener la banlieue en centre-ville

The Local France
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French Expression of the Day: Amener la banlieue en centre-ville
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This is nothing to do with where you live - it actually refers to a very distinctive hair style.

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Why do I need to know amener la banlieue en centre-ville?

Because men of a certain age might be tempted by this.

What does it mean?

Amener la banlieue en centre-ville - roughly pronounced ah-men-ay la bahn-lee-uh ahn sahn-truh-veal - translates as ‘to bring the suburbs to the centre of the city’. 

It does not have anything to do with the logistics of moving into the city from the suburbs, but rather it has to do with a particular type of haircut popular amongst older men.

In reality, amener la banlieue en centre-ville is a comedic way to describe a comb-over in French - the hairstyle in which people who are balding on top comb bits of hair from the side of the head over the bald crown.

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You can also use the more official terminology - mèche rabattue - which more-or-less translates as ‘folded down piece of hair’.

For a similar hairstyle - when the remaining pieces of hair are combed forward - French people sometimes use the expression code-barres (bar codes). 

This was popularised during the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who apparently made some attempts to style his remaining strands of his hair.

Use it like this

Le pauvre, il est si jeune et déjà presque chauve. Il devra bientôt essayer d’amener la banlieue en centre-ville. - The poor guy, he is so young and already almost bald. He’s going to have to try a comb-over soon.

C'est mon oncle ! Le type qui n'a presque plus de cheveux. Au moins, il en a encore assez pour amener la banlieue en centre-ville. - That’s my uncle! The guy that has hardly any hair left. At least he still has enough for a comb-over.

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