In France, Valentine’s day is only for people in love. Read my cultural tips about “la Saint Valentin” + French love vocabulary and traditions.
Le 14 février, c’est La Saint Valentin en France : la fête de l’amour et des amoureux.
February 14th is Valentine’s day in France: the day for love and people in love.
Careful though – unlike English cultures, Valentine’s day in France is only for people “in” love, not just loving/friendship gestures.
1 – Why is-it LA Saint Valentin in French?
Valentines’ day is “la Saint Valentin” in French. This puzzles a lot of student since “Saint Valentin” is masculine, therefore the article associated with it should be “le”.
It’s a good question. However, what we mean here is “la fête de Saint Valentin”… hence the “la” :-)
2 – Valentine’s Day in France = Just for People in Love
In France, preschoolers do not give a Valentine to all their friends and family.
If they have a special “love” interest (un amoureux, une amoureuse – strong liaison or gliding in N – so it sounds like un namooreu / une namooreuz), and if they are not shy, they might, but it’s quite different from the US on this aspect.
So don’t go about sending all your French friends a friendly Valentine’s day card, they may get the wrong impression!
Read my article to understand why you shouldn’t say I love you in French to a friend.
3 – Valentine’s Day Traditions in France
Otherwise, Valentine’s day in France is celebrated a bit like it is in the rest of the world – chocolates, roses, jewels for the wealthiest… a romantic restaurant or evening…
Sometimes a card, but much less than in English cultures and again, only for romantic interests.
So now, let’s study the French love vocabulary.
4 – French Love Vocabulary
- L’amour – love
- L’amitié – friendship
- Je t’aime – I love you (using tu)
- Je vous aime – I am in love with you (using vous)
- Je l’aime – I am in love with him/her
- Je suis amoureux / amoureuse de toi, lui, elle, vous… – I am in love with you, him, her, you
- Tomber Amoureux / amoureuse – to fall in love (not tomber en amour which is used in Canadian French but not in France)
- Est-ce que tu veux sortir avec moi – would you like to go out with me ?
- Est-ce que tu veux (bien) m’épouser – would you marry me? The bien here is optional, and means “are you willing to marry me”, but it’s what we traditionally say.
- To kiss – embrasser, s’embrasser. WATCH OUT !!! Not “baiser”… I’m sorry to be vulgar but you need to be aware that “un baiser” is fine, it’ a kiss, but “baiser” as a verb nowadays means to f..k.
- A kiss – un baiser, un bisou – I wrote a whole article on the subject of French kisses.
- Les fiançailles – engagement
- Se fiancer – to get engaged
- Un fiancé, une fiancée – someone you are engaged to. But sometimes used to say someone you are just dating.
- Le mariage – marriage, wedding (only one R in French)
- Se marier avec qq’un – to get married with someone
- Épouser quelqu’un – to marry someone
- Un marié – a groom
- Une mariée – a bride
- Un mari / un époux – a husband
Watch out between un marié, une mariée, un mari…
- Une femme (pronounced “fam”) / une épouse – a wife
- Un/ une partenaire – a partner. Mostly used for gay couples in French.
- Un compagnon / une compagne – a partner as used in British English : someone you live with but you are not necessarily married to.
- Un amoureux / une amoureuse – a sweetheart
- Un petit-ami/ un petit-copain – a boyfriend
- Une petite-amie / une petite-copine – a girlfriend
- Watch out! “un amant” means a lover, as in someone you have sexual relations with or you are cheating on your spouse with. So not to be used lightly in French.
- Mon chéri, ma chérie, mon amour… there are plenty of French terms of endearments: I suggest you read (and listen) to my article about the French love nicknames with audio.
- Joyeuse Saint Valentin – happy Valentine’s day.
- Tu veux être mon valentin / ma valentine ? Would you be my valentine?
Actually, there are quite a large numbers of faux-pas to avoid as far as the language and gestures associated with love and friendship are concerned.
So here are a few articles you may enjoy:
5 – French Love Nicknames
As in other languages, French has its own little words or French love names to call a love one. How does calling your wife “My flea” sound to you? It’s one of the most popular ones in French!
6 – Flirting in French
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What’s the vocabulary and expressions we use to flirt in French? How do you ask someone out in French? Finding the courage to ask someone out on a date is not easy… let alone trying to find the right words in French… So here are typical French pick-ups line, compliments, expressions etc…
7 – I Love You in French
There are many ways to say I love you in French – and other expressions to say you have a crush on someone, without necessarily saying “Je t’aime”.
8 – French Kisses
Avoid a huge mistake baiser ≠ embrasser + all the French kisses vocabulary.
9 – French Sex Vocabulary and Expressions
French Sex Vocabulary is used all the time in movies. But books don’t cover this topic, although I think it will be very helpful to adult students to understand French Sex Vocabulary, and know which words NOT to use to avoid huge faux-pas. Watch out, this post is for an adult audience and contains very explicit language.
10 – French Women Don’t Date
It is so funny to see how some social behaviors are exactly the same between France and the US, and others are completely different. One of the very obvious difference is the dating game. The French don’t “date”… So what is a man to do?
11 – Une Histoire d’Amour Sans Fin
Judy et Moi – Une Histoire d’Amour Sans Fin with Audio
For homework, I asked Frank to describe how he met his wife. The paper turned out to be so charming that we decided to share it with you.
12 – What to Expect at a Typical French Wedding?
A couple of years ago, we were invited to the wedding (un mariage, note only one R) of my dear cousin Coralie and her fiancé Thibaud. As I was describing the ceremony etc… to my Skype students, I was surprised to see how fun it was for them, and all the questions they asked about a typical French wedding. So I decided to share the experience with you – and re-live this magical day the time of a blog post :-)