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‘Plus on désire une chose…’: Our French expression of the week

After British ferry passengers found themselves in long queues at Calais at the weekend, we look at an expression linked to waiting

An image of cars waiting in a queue

We look at a French expression to do with waiting Pic: Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Over the weekend, British ferry passengers found themselves waiting in queues of up to six hours to get through UK passport control in Calais. 

Read more: What caused this weekend’s six-hour Calais ferry queues?

This got us thinking about expressions to do with waiting, and the French saying: ‘Plus on désire une chose, plus elle se fait attendre’ (The more you want something, the more it makes you wait). 

This expression can refer both to the way in which desiring the arrival of something can make time seem to move more slowly towards it, but also how unwanted or unremarkable things seem to come easily, while the most wished for seem unreachable. 

In this way, we could say that the more tired and frustrated the people at Calais grew over the weekend, ‘plus leur arrivée chez eux se faisait attendre’ (the more their arrival back home made them wait).

An equivalent English expression might be ‘a watched pot never boils’. 

Related articles 

Tati, toutou, teuf-teuf: French and its love of doubled-up words

‘Faire la pluie et le beau temps’: Our French expression of the week

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