Bunk Beds (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Bunk beds". Smokey (upper bunk) and Braise demonstrate one of today's vocabulary words: les lits superposés. (P.S. Thanks to 14-year-old Jackie for her helpful photo styling. She managed to get our dogs to bunk together. Not an easy task!) Thanks to The Dirt Divas, Doreen and Malou, for all of the beautiful flowers that are currently thriving in my garden!

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le lit (leuh lee)

    1. bed
    2. layer (of earth, ash, potatoes...)
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Audio File: Today, listen to Jean-Marc read the French words in the next two columns! Enjoy! Download MP3 or Audio File

le lit pliant = folding bed
le lit d'ami = spare bed
le lit conjugal = marriage bed
les lits superposés = bunk beds
les lits jumeaux = twin beds
le lit à baldaquin = four-poster bed with canopy 


faire lit à part = to sleep in separate beds
faire le lit = to make the bed
au lit! = time for bed!
clouer au lit = to be stuck in bed or bed-ridden
mourir dans son lit = to die of natural causes

Reverse Dictionary

bed head (hair)= les cheveux chiffonnés
bed linen = la literie
bed wetter = un pissenlit (Note! This term is pejorative--except when using its original meaning: "daisy")
water bed = le matelas à eau
to go to bed = se coucher
to go to sleep (child) = faire dodo
to get up on the wrong side of the bed = se lever du pied gauche 

BOOK UPDATEFor our Red-Penners or voluntary editors... here is the next chapter in the Vignettes book I am working on. Let me know if the four paragraph story "Tourterelle" is something to keep... or something to delete! Click here.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Bed Talk 

Things that come to mind when I think of French beds.


French beds are narrower than the beds in California King-size America—though bigger beds are catching on, and you can now find draps measuring 180 x 200 cm.


What about bed skirts? The translation exists (le cache sommier) but where are these clever hide-its? Are they the exception (like shower curtains?) in France?

And now's the time to talk about pillows, which are square or tubular and not often rectangular. The tubular pillows even have a name: le traversin (does the name come from the pillow's way of traversing the head of the bed?)

Note: the traversin may also be known as le polochon (bolster), from which we get the term "pillow fight": le combat or la bataille de polochons! (But you can still say bataille d'oreiller, if you prefer!)


Apart from mezzanines, French beds tend to be lower to the ground. I know a few French women who put blocks beneath the foot end of the bed. The elevation seems to soothe their jambes lourdes.


Funny bed-associated words like le sommier (box spring), le drap (sheet), la couette (duvet), le pot de chambre (chamber pot), la bouillotte (hot water bottle), la moustiquaire (mosquito net)....


Back home we call those plastered morning locks "bed head". Here, the French call this condition les cheveux chiffonnées. (Update, thanks, Millie, for writing in with these French synonyms: cheveux ébouriffés, cheveux indisciplinés, cheveux fous)


Smokey offers a popular solution to bed head, or les cheveux chiffonnées: le chapeau!

Smokey says, "Dad and Mom get bed head too! The condition is embarrasing to Dad (just look at that expression on his face!). Mom could care less about messy hair--give her a cookie and all vanity goes out the window!" (Sam, pictured left, and Mama Braise).

Le Coin Commentaires

What are your minimum requirements for a good night's sleep? Have you ever slept in a French bed? Do you keep something to drink on the table de nuit, or nightstand? Windows and curtains open or closed? Ear plugs or background noise? Click here to join in the discussion.

French Vocabulary

le traversin = bolster (pillow)

les jambes lourdes = legs that feel heavy

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We end this lit edition with a makeshift bed and a question: where is your favorite, coziest place to sleep? Leave your answer here, in the comments box.

Thanks for forwarding this edition to a marmot. (une marmotte = someone who loves to sleep)

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety