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A "poisson d'avril" is a joke made on April 1st. In France, children try to stick a fish picture on their friends' back. When the joke is discovered, they shout "poisson d'avril !"

April’s Fool in France – Poisson d’Avril!

Grown ups like to make jokes as well, announce fake info : it’s very common that jokes are also made by the media, radio, TV etc… Where this habit comes from is not certain. There are several theories (read more here), but why the symbolic of the fish remains pretty much a mystery.

Here is My 2014’s French April’s Fool Joke

BREAKING NEWS! President François Hollande is to change his last name. “I’ve had enough of the confusion created by my last name” said France’s president to a TF1 reporter. The president has not yet disclosed his chosen last name, but rumor has it that he may choose “de France”, since “de Gaulle” has already been used…

Brought to comment on this exceptional measure, Marie Le Pen cried out “Poisson d’avril !!!” (“April fools!”)

Here is my 2012’s French April’s Fool Joke

Yesterday, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced an ambitious plan for mitigating the social health deficit: to sell the Parisian monuments, which presently belong to the city of Paris.
Many foreign powers have already made offers totalling several billion Euros. It seems that China is willing to pay 3 billion Euros for the Eiffel Tower alone.

The other monuments concerned are the Arc de Triomphe, the Petit Palais, the Sorbonne, the Paris Bourse, the Invalides, Grand Palais … and the bridges of the Seine.

The President said that Notre Dame cathedral as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart would be excluded from the negotiations because of their religious character.

“It is out of the question to move these monuments symbolic of the city of Paris, only to cede their title and their visa operation to make a profit that could solve the French economic crisis. “

Brought to comment on this exceptional measure, Carla Bruni cried out “Long live the April fools. “

joke in french

French Laughter Vocabulary

  • Une farce : a practical joke, a prank
  • Une blague : a joke (physical or verbal)
  • Une plaisanterie : a joke (verbal)
  • Une histoire drôle : a joke, a funny story (only verbal)
  • Un jeu de mot : a pun
  • Faire une farce : to make a joke
  • Dire/faire une blague : to say/make a joke
  • Blaguer : to joke (je blague)
  • Plaisanter : to joke
  • Drôle, amusant, comique, poilant/marrant/rigolo (slang), cocasse (very formal) : funny
  • Hilarant : extremely funny
  • Sourire : to smile
  • Le sourire : smile
  • Rire : to laugh
  • Le rire : laugher
  • Rigoler : to laugh (colloquial)
  • La rigolade : laughter (colloquial)
  • Un fou rire : when you cannot stop laughing
  • Hurler de rire : to laugh really hard and loud (!! nothing to do with ‘to hurl’)
  • Éclater de rire : to burst in laughter, to start laughing really hard
  • Pleurer de rire : to cry from laughter
  • Se taper une barre (de rire)/des barres de rire : to laugh till it hurts (a new expressions used by the younger crowd nowadays)
  • Je suis mort(e) de rire : dead laughing = MDR
  • Je suis pété(e) de rire : broken in two from laughter (also j’ai pété de rire: I farted from laughing) = PTR
  • MDR, PTR = LOL

Here is an hilarious “poisson d’avril” video of a fish pranking a cat ! And it comes with English subtitles :-) Note the song at the end which is a very famous children song.

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Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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