Fourmillement: Restless Legs Syndrome in French
Vocabulary Roundup + Listen to all the French words shared in February

Yada yada in French + Your favorite words and expressions

Almond blossoms outside Roussillon church
The first time I heard the words "Et patati et patata" was in church. The whimsical expression was even funnier coming out of the mouth of a priest. (Photo taken inside church, in Roussillon)

BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 18-26 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

TODAY'S WORD: Et patati et patata

            :  and so on and so forth, blah blah blah
         : yada yada

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Et patati et patata, évoque des bavardages intarissables ou une suite de paroles qu'on ne peut deviner.
And patati and patata, evokes inexhaustible chatter or a series of words that one can not guess. (Google translation)

Listen to Jean-Marc read the example sentence in French

Improve your spoken French with Pronounce it Perfectly in French


    by Kristi Espinasse

Just as I was wondering how to present to you a disjointed amount of information (our weekend in review) I noticed the definition of the word of the day and took heart:

"And patati and patata evokes inexhaustible chatter or a series of words that one can not guess."

Isn't that the beauty behind the blank page? It is no more than a series of words that one can not guess.

Though I always anticipate the challenge of recounting a story, today I did not count on so many computer and technical problems discouraging me from writing more about our weekend away (we spent the night near Roussillon, at Domaine des Peyre--a vineyard and gîte that welcomed our dog, Smokey--and on Saturday enjoyed celebrating Aunt Marie-Françoise's birthday at Domaine Tourbillon along with all the Espinasse family).

So before any more computer blips (including these italics which come and go as they please) prevent me from finishing, I shall turn the rest of this post over to you: please share with us today your favorite French words and phrases in the comments at the end of this post. Merci beaucoup and have a great week!



Edible French Clotilde Dusoulier

The idiosyncrasies of language can tell us a lot about a culture. In this delightful book, Clotilde Dusoulier, creator of the award-winning food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, delves into the history and meaning of the most popular food-related expressions.

Accompanied by beautiful watercolor illustrations by artist Mélina Josserand, Edible French explores whimsical turns of phrase such as:

Falling into apples (falling into the apples) = fainting
Be rolled in flour = being fooled
Having an artichoke heart (having the heart of an artichoke) = falling in love

Order a copy of Edible French here.

Smokey in front of roussillon landmark
The new ambassador to Roussillon. Smokey would like to encourage everybody to come visit this charming town perched above the famous ochre canyon. See some inspiring places to stay in Roussillon, here.

Stories you may have missed...
Most Difficult French Words to Pronounce (+ soundfile)

Teachers - your students are encouraged to sign up to French Word-A-Day to receive this vocabulary-building journal.

Sheep donkey and goat
(photo by Jean-Marc) Good things come to those who wait. Do you remember when Jean-Marc was looking for sheep? The sheep that were supposed to graze in our vineyard and help with all the weeding? He wrote about this in his bilingual story, here. Well, they finally showed up. And they brought friends!

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


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Taste of France

There's also bla-bla, as in Bla-Bla Car, the ride-sharing service.
In Swahili, patati patata is na kadhalika. Kind of a running theme of ah sounds...

Ally Davis

I like métro boulot dodo- daily grind

Audrey Wilson

'Neamoins '.Don't really like this but got to know it frequently when dealing with the French bureaucracy here plus ,of course, the gallic shrug! But I love the French


When asking my then two year old grandson if he
had fabricated a very long story he said:
n'importe quoi. We all use it, along with "et patati et et
patata" when all the children are talking.


I love "entre chien et loup" meaning twilight when you can't, in that light, distinguish a dog from a wolf. Very evocative - for me. My 3 year old grandson (learning French) loves "Allez ouste!" (shoo!) which he uses to chase away monsters or sometimes me!


Hang in there with Tecnologu Kristi--by the way we bought the Melissa Clark book--wow great recipes for me and great pictures for my wife the photographer. thanks for the recommendation. By the way Smoky looking good in front of the house :)

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

I love today's word! I also love “Tomber dans les pommes” and "Ah, la vache." I love the one Margaret shared above, "Allez ouste" So many fun ones!

Elaine Squeri


Que je suis étonnée d'entendre encore ces mots, patati-patata!

N'y-a-t-il pas une chanson de Joe Dassin, si je me rappelle bien, avec ce refrain?
Et c'est une chanson vive, parfaite pour commencer la journée!
Bonne journée!

Suzanne Dunaway

J'adore une mystere et boule de gomme, which is an old phrase from who knows when

Joy Steele

"Replapas" on my shampoo bottle. It means "flat hair". I love to say it!

Lynn McBride

I love "époustouflant." Amazing!

Laura West

Unfortunately Suzanne, mystere is masculin so it would be UN mystere de boule de gomme.


Really like saying that. What does it mean?


Like everything about this post. But then I always enjoy your writing. Smoked looks very regal et Patati et patata.

Lynn McBride

It means amazing, incredible, flabbergasting!

Brenda Prowse

We have a French friend, Jacques who loves to drive and hates the metro. He is a most excellent driver and always finds a parking spot near his destination. One day I made the mistake of saying that we could take all take the Metro from our apartment to visit the new Louis-Vuitton building. Jacques' wife, Cat, laughed and said, "Jacques prendra le metro quand les poules auront les dents." (Jacques will take the Metro when chickens have teeth). I loved the expression and now we tease Jacques all the time starting with the phrase, "Quand les poules auront les dents. . . .


Just saying it makes me happy.


Could JM say these so we know exactly how to say them.

Kristin Espinasse

Yes, definitely! Stay tuned.... 


My favorite became Pourquoi after seeing a movie with the title. The translation kept saying but why, even though I read mais needs to be before it. I like how it sounds and I like questioning something at times. I had a guy I dated years ago use the saying je ne sais quoi on me once when he was being flirty. I know it was a line but it sounded nice. He is an American who can speak 5 languages. Good luck with the computer. I'm having the same problem at work with a new program for patient reporting. It is not fun. Technology isn't always what it is cracked up to be.

Patricia Sands

Love this post! What fun! And Roussillon ~ bonus! One of my favourite villages.
Bonne journée!


My favorite - "Que le bon Dieu vous bénisse," always words of encouragement and the best of wishes.


I love the expression «Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe».
I also love the verb - recroquerviller.


Along the same lines, moulin à parole, or chatterbox.

Katheryn Lyman

I used this for my advanced students for years! It works! It's real world . . . not just a series of words to memorize. Not a "conversation" where you know your part, but when you arrive in Paris you find they don't know theirs. Kristi is more like a your mother's younger sister who teaches you what you really need to know.


Mon favorit c'est ´petit chou'. Can this really be a term of endearment?


I'm really enjoying and benefitting from the more frequent posts and the wide-ranging topics. I just wanted to say thank you Kristin for your creativity, generosity and hard work. You're inspiring me to refresh my rusty French and you're also giving me much pleasure and things to think about in the wider world - as do some of your readers' comments. Best wishes for success Kristin in all your ventures and may some of your success be material. A girl has to live and eat and that's really important!


Makes me happy too. I'm going to remember this one and allez ouste, and et patati et patata! All good! Thanks everyone!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

When I listened to Jean-Marc say these words, they became very sing-song as a tune emerged in my mind from the very long ago past. I kept hearing the song but couldn't recall the words. I finally found it on youtube! ObLaDi - ObLaDa (Life goes on) by the Beatles. It is a happy song. Now I can remember ~ et patati et patata (life goes on) ~ 🎶


One of our favorite expressions was and still is..."Ca se mange!". Perhaps Kristin and Jean-Marc can inform us if this is currently in use?

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Margaret. Your note is much appreciated, along with these engaging comments above. Thank you all! 

joie in Carmel

I love using "ceci et cela", especially when someone asks me what I am doing. There was a saying that came from a book, I think, that when things were all going wrong one would say "I think I will just go eat worms" there a French saying that would be appropriate for this?

Debbie Ambrous

Dear Kristin,
Jim and I spent two nights at Domaine des Peyre in October 2015. The experience was wonderful in atmospheric, colorful accommodation in a perfect location. I almost wished that I didn't have a rental house reserved for the remainder of our time in France. I wrote about the experience in the story "Two Domaines" on my website. What a coincidence that you would stay there as well. Guillaume de Roany was ever so helpful! Did you enjoy the amazing artwork? I submit photos to different themes on Google plus and happened to post a photo of the wine bottles from the front courtyard today. I hope we can return in the near future. Thanks for the lovely reminder of this special place!

Susan in Normandy

It's not referring to the vegetable called cabbage (chou) but rather to a little round ( like a cabbage) sweet pastry called petit chou.

So, it's similar to calling someone sweetie pie, honey or sweetie.


Jan Hersh

Ah merci! My french teachers never told me this!!!

Jan Hersh

When I was first studying French in high school I would try to share french words with my younger sister and I called her ma petite soeur. However she would always repeat it as ma petite "sewer" in order to drive me crazy...or should I say folle? She persists to this day. Mais c'est elle qui est folle, pas moi.


Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful,FUN,and educational post today!
So many great expressions to enjoy!
I have two to add: Jeter l'eponge (throw in the towel)(times when it suits the situation perfectly!)
and (my favorite) etre aux anges (to be among the angels or ecstatic).
THANK YOU for this happy way to learn/remember such helpful reminders of a beautiful language
Also THANK YOU for such lovely pictures.
They just fill us with peace and smiles.
Natalia XO

Leslie NYC

T 'occupe-toi avec tes oignons!
Mind your own business!


I knew that was a French saying! My parents commom language was French and my father would say "et patati, et patata" 30 years ago. I have asked many French teachers over the years and no one had ever heard this phrase. It must be common or it wouldn't have come up today! Now I know I am not "NUTS"!


Many years ago, while staying in an apartment in Nice, I wanted to find out on which day I should put out the garbage for pick-up. I rang a neighbor's doorbell and when she appeared, I was at a loss as what to call garbage cans or wastebasket in French. I knew what we jokingly said with a French accent - "gar-bage" was not correct. Finally, after resorting to gesturing and pointing, the neighbor exclaimed, "Ah...poubelle!" It is too pretty a word for garbage can, but it is my favorite French word.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

I have been known to use the phase, « c'est la vie, c'est la guere, c'est la pomme de terre » occasionally . . . . . .. In mixed company, it means “Stuff happens” in English.

I understand in the French Army the phrase is . . . . .. »C'est la vie, c'est la guere, c'est la militaire »

My favorite is esprit de l'escalier, meaning the witty remark or retort that comes to mind after the opportunity to make it has passed. Such is the usual timing of my humor.

Keith Van Sickle

"Revenons à nos moutons" which literally translates as "let's get back to our sheep." It comes from a 15th-century play and today is used to mean "let's get back to the business at hand."

Leslie NYC

Maybe it's
"Occupe-toi de tes oignons."


Is this phrase like "jibber jabber"?


"Vous direz bien des choses chez vous!"


I like peut-etre, pas mal, comme habitude et from the novel, Candide, "tout est pour le mieux ..." which I often use in sarcasm.

Bonnie Schroth

You are so fortunate to have such charming guests to your vineyard!
I love that you travel with Smoky - we try to travel with our dog, Cozy, in California, but it takes some real planning.
Keep up your delightful blog.


"Le Poubelle" is named after a M. Poubelle who had the idea of having waste bins rather than just throwing the rubbish in the street.

Pauline Lowe

I don't have any French phrases but would love to create one and would someone translate in French an Australian saying,"that was as hard as nailing jelly to a tree"

Merci en avance


Yes, you'd see it in English language cookbooks as choux pastry.


I speak on the telephone weekly with my dear friend Colette. Her first language was French,though she was born in the U.S. I amuse her by trying to translate into French the country sayings I grew up with, many from my grandfather. Her favorite so far was when I told her - S'il plaît à Dieu et le ruisseau ne monte pas.

I was *trying* to say, "God willing and the creek don't rise".She didn't know if there was some corresponding idiom in she and her parents are/were city folk. I'd love to know if there is...

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