8 Untranslatable French Words And Expressions

Diana Vernon

The French language is a hugely influential language. Did you know that an estimated 45% of English words come from French? Therefore, you are probably more familiar with the French language than you think you are! However, despite the similarities between both languages, it is also one of the most complex and thorough languages in the world. To highlight this, we’ve chosen our top eight of untranslatable French words that we bet will add some cachet to your linguistic repertoire!

We’ve all been through that frustrating moment when you think of all the great things you should have said during that conversation that has already ended!

Why is it that we’re always reaching for what we just cannot have? And yes, this ‘exquisite pain’ is, unfortunately for some, an addictive sensation.

This term flourished in the 19th century, and it referred to a literary man who would spend his time leisurely exploring Parisian streets. The expression was rooted even more by poet Charles Baudelaire who often used the figure of the flâneur throughout his poems.

Literally meaning ‘the call of the void,’ this is the inexplicable sensation of wanting to jump off a very high point. A sensation we definitely don’t identify with.

We all know that one person who always appears to be lost in their thoughts!

The feeling of not belonging or of feeling disoriented due to culture shock. A strongly depictive word, ‘dépaysement‘ is made up of ‘‘ (‘un’ in English) and ‘pays’ (country), translating to ‘uncountried’.

Literally translating to ‘re-findings’, this word refers to the reunion you would have with someone you care deeply for but whom you have not seen in a long time.

Wine and cheese are the best examples of France’s famous terroir. It is their ‘Made In France’ etiquette, what makes them so delectably unique!
By Diana Vernon

Culture Trips 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. 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 places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article