French is a romantic language that seduces the heart like none other, so there’s no surprise it’s enriched with a wealth of words describing emotions that are tricky to articulate. Here are some of the most poignant examples.
A change of scenery can often be disorientating when you‘re no longer in your home country. It can sometimes feel like you’ve been uprooted, leaving you feeling disorientated like a ‘fish out of water’. The feeling that arises from not being in your home country is known as dépaysement in French. Literally, it means ‘un-country-ing’, and while not quite homesickness, it’s an elegant way to express being geographically uprooted.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The French have worked up a bad reputation for their disgruntled habits over the years, especially Parisians, who have recently been labelled the biggest moaners in France. The word râler is the perfect way to describe someone whose behaviour is hovering unpleasantly between whining and complaining. The nuance arises from the fact that the French have actually developed it into a sophisticated art, expressing their dissatisfaction with the rest of the world!
The phrase l’esprit d’escalier explains that irritating moment when you come up with the perfect witty comment or comeback, but the time has passed and it’s too late. It translates as ‘staircase wit’ and has an interesting historical trajectory. It was reportedly invented by the 18th-century philosopher Diderot, who noted how he could only think of brilliant retorts after walking away from an argument, which was often down a flight of stairs.
L’appel du vide
Ever wonder what it would feel like to jump from a tall height? The French phrase l’appel du vide translates literally ‘the call of the void’, and refers to the peculiar urge to jump from high places. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful, sunny day in Paris with incredible views, has been known to fill awestruck tourists with this inexplicable feeling. Of course, it rarely leads to dangerous situations, though it does feel disturbing.
La douleur exquise
Since French is often thought of as the world’s most romantic language (although perhaps the Italians would argue for that title!), there are many phrases relating to love. The phrase la douleur exquise is the ‘exquisite pain’ that one suffers from unrequited love. More than just a physical discomfort, it sears right through the soul, and has inspired artists and writers for centuries.
The French often say J’ai eu un empêchement. It is the perfect excuse for when you don’t want to say exactly why you are late for an appointment; instead, you just had an ‘unexpected last-minute change of plans’. The verb empêcher means to prevent, so this phrase hints at intentions being hindered by some unspecified and ambiguous force. It can be used if you’re being secretive, but more often, it’s just a lazy way to get out of having to explain yourself!
There are certain family members and friends that you just know you can spend time with in public without fear of being shown up or embarrassed, but with others, it takes a little more forward-planning. In French, sortable is the adjective used to describe those people who you know won’t ever embarrass you. It stems from the verb sortir which means to go out or exit, with sortable translating literally into someone you can take out.
The word flâneur (wanderer) originated in the 16th century, gaining a set of rich associations in the 19th century, thanks to French poet Charles Baudelaire. He crafted a portrait of the urban explorer so memorable – leisurely wandering the wide boulevards and cafés of the capital – that no picture of Paris is complete without it. The emotion it encapsulates is the idea of wandering with no particular goal, simply exploring for the pleasure of soaking up the atmosphere.
In French, retrouvailles is one of the most heartwarming expressions. The word explains the happiness of meeting someone after a very long time, possibly after a long separation. You can say: on va fêter les retrouvailles to explain that you will be ‘celebrating a reunion’; one that often takes places between lovers or loved ones and that can be very emotional. It stems from the verb retrouver which means ‘to find again/rediscover’.
One of the most amusing words in the French dictionary of words describing emotions that we can’t explain, relates to the explosive personality of your craziest friends. The word frappadingue is for someone who acts so crazy, perhaps spontaneously and dangerously, that it’s like they’ve been hit on the head. The curious word is hybrid blend of frapper (to hit) and dingue (crazy).
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.