1. Chocolatine / Pain au chocolat
Most French people (84%) use pain au chocolat while 16% use chocolatine, a recent poll of 1009 people by Ifop showed.
The word chocolatine is widely used in the south-west, notably in Aquitaine and Occitanie.
The origin of the modern word is still unsure, as some claim it comes from English-speakers calling it ‘chocolate in bread’ from which we get chocolat-ine.
Others say it comes from the Gascon dialect in Aquitaine: in the 19th century they would say chocolatina, a diminutive meaning ‘good little chocolate’ to refer to the well-known French pastry.
2: Crayon à papier / Crayon de papier / Crayon gris
In Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and in the north-east, some like to say crayon de papier instead of crayon à papier which is the most used in France – though you can just say crayon if the context is obvious.
Un crayon à papier refers to an ordinary grey graphite pencil, as opposed to eg. un crayon de couleur (crayon) or an eyeliner.
In the Hauts-de-France and Pays de La Loire, there is a tendency to say crayon de bois (wood pencil) while crayon gris (grey pencil) is most used in the north-west, notably in the Morbihan, and in the south-east.
3: Serpillère / Wassingue / Cinse
If you are looking for a mop in the north of France, use the word wassingue.
This comes from Picardy but was taken from the Flemish language and is now in the Larousse dictionary.
In the west of France notably in Charente-Maritime, it is not surprising to hear cinse (it can also be written since) instead of serpillère.
In the historical region of Lorraine - now part of Grand-Est - it can also be referred to as a torchon de plancher.
4: Dégun / Personne
In the south of France, you may hear someone say ‘Il y a dégun ici’ (meaning there is nobody here). The word – which means nobody – comes from the Provençal dialect and is used in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Corsica.
5: Péguer / Coller
Another word you can only hear in the south is péguer which means to be sticky.
It comes from the Occitan word pegar. For example, j’ai les mains qui pèguent means my hands are sticky.
6: Sac / Poche / Pochon / Sachet
In the region of Toulouse it is not unusual to hear the word poche (pocket) for a plastic bag.
But France is divided on this word. In the north-west, you can hear the word pochon while in the south-east and in the north you may hear sachet.
And in the North East (Lorraine) you may hear it called a cornet.
However the most common word is still sac (plastique) all around France.
7: Gorgée / Schluk
Je bois juste un schluk, you might hear in Alsace.
Schluk (pronounced schlouk) comes from Germany and means ‘a sip’. In other regions, people usually say une gorgée.
8: Faire la fête / Faire la chouille
In the north, people like to say chouille or faire la chouille for party.
The expression actually comes from Lorraine and generally means that there will be a lot of alcohol…
9: Fatigué / Ensuqué
In the south-west, someone can be ensuqué (tired or in a daze). It comes from the Occitan verb ensucà which means to knock out.
10: Débaucher / Finir le travail
The word débaucher is also used in the west but does not have the same meaning as in the rest of France.
Usually it means to deprave but in the west of France it means to finish work.
Someone may ask you ‘À quelle heure tu débauches?’ to say ‘At what time do you finish?’
11: Clencher / Fermer la porte
In Normandy, Brittany and Lorraine, people often say clencher for fermer la porte (to close the door).
Clenche originally means handle and it has become a verb in these regions.
12. Pastis / Pastaga / Ricard
Depending on where you are in France, the alcoholic drink pastis will be called a different name.
In Marseille, the beverage - an anise-flavoured spirit traditionally associated with the southern French city - is referred to as un pastaga.
Elsewhere in France it will either be called un pastis - the drink itself - or un Ricard - a brand of pastis.
13. Carafe / Pichet / Brodo
Carafe is often used in the south to describe a jug of water or wine, however this is named differently depending on where in France you are.
In the north west, this is more likely to be called a pichet, whereas in the Ile de France region you may well ask for a brodo.
14. Trės / grave / tarpin / cher
In Marseille, tarpin is often used in place of trės, to mean very in English. In Lyon cher is used rather than the traditional trės.
Grave is likely to be used in Paris, while in Bretagne you might use vlà and in the north of France you could replace trės with fort.
Do you know any other examples?
If you have other examples of local phrases or words in French, send them to email@example.com.