Summer holidays in France – Vocabulary

The hot weather, now officially a heatwave, ‘une canicule’, arrived early in France this year. As ‘les juilletistes’, July holidaymakers, take to the beaches, the locals are already tanned and have been enjoying the warm weather for some time.

If you are travelling in France and want to blend in, here is a checklist of the keywords you will need.

Beach necessities:

un parasol – to give some shade during the really hot hours

la crème solaire – to protect from sunburn

un maillot de bain – for swimming

des lunettes de soleil – to protect your eyes and give you that film star look

une serviette de plage – when you need to dry off or for lying on the sand


Chilling out:

aimer le farniente – to enjoy doing nothing

lézarder – as the word suggests, lizards have got this activity off to a T

se détendre – most people say they go on a beach holiday to relax

rester les doigts de pied en éventail – lazing with the toes like a fan is very picturesque!

rester zen – staying cool in the motorway traffic jams as everybody heads south


Essential clothes:

la petite robe – colourful for the day or slinky black for the evening

les short – the must-have item this summer. ‘Très tendance !’

les débardeurs – tops for those wanting to show off their muscles or their tattoos

les tongs – flip-flops for beach or promenade

les T-shirts – colourful, stylish, loose or figure hugging


Places to go:

la plage – whether it’s sand, ‘le sable’, or pebbled, ‘avec les galets’, it’s the place to be seen

le port – enjoy imagining life on those expensive yachts

la piscine – the pool to cool off and chat with people

la terrasse d’un café – relaxing in a pavement café is a sure sign you’re on holiday

le restaurant – you can’t holiday in France and not be tempted by the local restaurants


Summer activities:

lire un polar – enjoy a detective novel

écouter les tubes de l’été – listen to the hit songs of the moment

se baigner – take a refreshing dip in the sea or the pool

déguster une glace – savour a refreshing ice-cream as you people watch

se promener – a little walk to work up an appetite or to help digest that excellent meal

prendre l’apéritif – very popular in France, but to be indulged in ‘avec modération!’


And don’t forget:

perfectionner votre français – practise your French and if you need help, slip the Kolibri Languages Pocket Guides, ‘Keys to France’ and ‘Food and French’ into your suitcase.

Passez un bon été !

Pam Bourgeois



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