top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

Être dans les clous: A French expression you may hear today

The préfecture in Gironde has been making sure an experimental trial to use bracelets instead of health passes is ‘dans les clous’. What does the expression mean?

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

Word-for-word, être dans les clous means to be in the nail, as in the metal pins used to hang pictures.

What does this have to do with plans to trial a new kind of health pass in south west France?

Hotel union, Union des métiers et des industries de l'Hôtellerie (l'UMIH), have made 20,000 health pass bracelets available in venues near Bordeaux to try to make going to restaurants easier for customers.

The concept means customers can pick a favourite restaurant or bar and show proof of vaccination and their identity once to the manager, in order to be given a permanent bracelet to wear allowing re-entry without having to show a health pass again.

The experiment is legally complicated, and the prefecture has been working with the union to make sure the experiment is dans les clous.

Read more: Bordeaux trials 20.000 Covid health pass bracelets in restaurants 

The expression être dans les clous means to follow the rules or the timescale.

Up until 1950 in France, zebra crossings were not marked by white lines but by parallel lines of nails hammered into the ground, leading from one pavement to another.

Dans les clous means to walk between the nails, or to follow the rules of the road by crossing in the correct area.

Originally applied to pedestrians, the expression is now used to refer to projects, plans, ideas and all sorts of things that are within the rules. 

Related articles

Piqûre de rappel: A French expression you may hear today 

The French you don’t learn at school: When a zèbre is not a zèbre

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now