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French Culture

French Traditions for “Black Friday” + Video

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on November 22, 2018
Black Friday traditions in France

What does “Black Friday” mean and is it popular in France? This article in the form of an easy French English bilingual story takes a closer look at the vocabulary and French traditions for the huge American after Thanksgiving sale called “Black Friday” and the one held on the next Monday called “Cyber Monday”.

1 – What is “Black Friday”?

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“Black Friday” marque le dĂ©but de la saison des soldes de NoĂ«l aux États-Unis. Cela commence le vendredi aprĂšs Thanksgiving. Les entreprises amĂ©ricaines ont des soldes de un Ă  trois jours avec d’Ă©normes remises (jusqu’Ă  70 %).

“Black Friday” marks the beginning of the holiday season sales in the United States. This begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. US companies offer one to five days with huge discounts ( up to 70% ).

2 – Why “Black” Friday ?

“Être dans le rouge” est une expression française et anglaise qui veut dire que perdez de l’argent : les anciens livres de comptes marquaient les comptes dĂ©biteurs en rouge. En anglais, le contraire “ĂȘtre dans le noir” signifie que votre entreprise fait un bĂ©nĂ©fice, les inscriptions Ă©tant alors en noir. Les soldes de “Black Friday” permettent aux entreprises d’espĂ©rer terminer l’annĂ©e avec un profit.

 “To be in the red” is a French and English expression meaning losing money: older accounting books wrote the debtors accounts in red. In English, the contrary while “to be in the black” means your business makes a profit, the writing being then in black. The sales of “Black Friday” gives companies hope to finish the year with a profit.

Une autre explication est que pendant ces soldes, les rues sont “noires de monde”.

Another explanation is that during these sales, street are black with people!

En 2013, environ 141 millions de consommateurs américains ont dépensé plus de 57 milliards de dollars durant Black Friday, avec les ventes en ligne atteignant 1,2 milliards de dollars (wikipedia)

In 2013, about 141 million American consumers spent over 57 billion dollars during Black Friday, with web sales reaching 1.2 billion dollars (wikipedia).


3 – Is “Black Friday” in France Translated as “Vendredi Noir”?

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Que je sache, on ne dit pas du tout “vendredi noir” pour “Black Friday” en France. En effet, “une date + noir” aurait une signification lugubre en français. De plus, les attaques terroristes de Paris en Novembre 2015 ont eu lieu un vendredi, et les mĂ©dias l’ont appelĂ© “vendredi noir”… Donc il pourrait y avoir confusion.

That I know of, we don’t say “vendredi noir” for “Black Friday” in France. Actually, “a date + noir” would have a gloomy meaning in French. Furthermore, the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks took place on a Friday, and the media refer to it as “vendredi noir”. So it could be confusing.

4 – Historic of “Black Friday” in France

J’ai commencĂ© Ă  entendre parler de “Black Friday” en France en 2015, et les promotions n’Ă©taient pas trĂšs importantes.

I began hearing about “Black Friday” in France” in 2015, and the sales were not very big. 

C’est en 2017 que ces soldes ont atteint notre petite ville de campagne de Paimpol… Mais seulement les grandes enseignes font des soldes, pas les petits magasins.

It’s in  2017  that this sale has reached our little countryside town of Paimpol… And only the large chains follow this sale, not the small stores.

Les noms utilisĂ©s pour dĂ©signer ces soldes sont souvent assez crĂ©atifs… “la Black Week”, “Black Friday Lunches”…

The names used to describe this sale are often quite creative… “la Black Week”, “Black Friday Lunches”…

black friday in france

6 – “Black Friday” Is a Mystery to The French

Comme les Français ne savent pas ce qu’est Thanksgiving, je doutais que beaucoup d’entre eux comprennent ce que veut dire “Black Friday”… Donc je suis allĂ©e les interviewer dans les rue de Paimpol, Bretagne, France.

 Since French people don’t know what Thanksgiving is, I doubted many of them understand what “Black Friday” means… So I went to interview them in the streets of Paimpol, Brittany, France. 

(Choose the French or English subtitles with the CC menu on YouTube)

5 – What About “Cyber Monday” in France ?

La mĂȘme chose est en train de se passer pour “Cyber Monday” (solde de produits sur le web)… toutes les occasions sont bonnes pour essayer de vendre, aux US comme en France !

The same thing is happening for “Cyber Monday” (sale for online products). All opportunities are good to try to sell in the US as well as in France!

Screenshot 2014-12-01 10.11.15

6 – Black Friday Sale French Vocabulary

  1. Les soldes = sales – masculine plural – (as discounted items) – but it’s a common mistake to think it’s feminine.
    Say : des soldes exceptionnels (not des soldes exceptionnelles).
  2. Watch out! “Un solde” also means a financial balance, and “la solde” is the payment for a soldier.
  3. Être en solde, soldĂ©(e/s) = to be on sale
  4. Une promotion (“une promo” is the short version) = a sale for a special event (like Black Friday)
  5. Une remise = a discount
  6. Un rabais = a discount
  7. Ni repris, ni échangé = no return, no exchange (= all sales are final)
  8. Faire une bonne affaire = to get a bargain
  9. Faire les soldes = to shop the season’s sales

You may also like my article about “Thanksgiving in France“.

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