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French Culture and Traditions

Joyeuse Saint Valentin ! Valentine’s day in France

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on February 9, 2020

Le 14 février, c’est La Saint Valentin, la fête de l’amour et des amoureux. 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!

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.

Valentines Day in France

So now, let’s study the French love vocabulary.

4 – French Love Vocabulary

  1. L’amour – love
  2. L’amitié – friendship
  3. Je t’aime – I am in love with you (using tu)
  4. Je vous aime – I am in love with you (using vous)
  5. Je l’aime – I am in love with him/her
  6. Je suis amoureux / amoureuse de toi, lui, elle, vous… – I am in love with you, him, her, you
  7. Tomber Amoureux / amoureuse – to fall in love (not tomber en amour which is used in Canadian French but not in France)
  8. Est-ce que tu veux sortir avec moi – would you like to go out with me ?
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. A kiss – un baiser, un bisou – I wrote a whole article on the subject of French kisses.
  12. Les fian̤ailles Рengagement
  13. Se fiancer – to get engaged
  14. Un fianc̩, une fianc̩e Рsomeone you are engaged to. But sometimes used to say someone you are just dating.
  15. Le mariage – marriage, wedding (only one R in French)
  16. Se marier avec qq’un – to get married with someone
  17. Épouser quelqu’un – to marry someone
  18. Un mari̩ Рa groom
  19. Une mari̩e Рa bride
  20. Un mari / un ̩poux Рa husband
    Watch out between un marié, une mariée, un mari…
  21. Une femme (pronounced “fam”) / une épouse – a wife
  22. Un/ une partenaire – a partner. Mostly used for gay couples in French.
  23. Un compagnon / une compagne – a partner as used in British English : someone you live with but you are not necessarily married to.
  24. Un amoureux / une amoureuse – a sweetheart
  25. Un petit-ami/ un petit-copain – a boyfriend
  26. Une petite-amie / une petite-copine – a girlfriend
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Joyeuse Saint Valentin – happy Valentine’s day.
  30. Tu veux être mon valentin / ma valentine ? Would you be my valentine?
loving couple kissing on Eiffel Tower background, Paris, France

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:

French Love Nicknames

Les Petits Noms d’Amour – French Love Nicknames with Audio 

As in other languages, French has its own little words or 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!

5 – How To Ask Someone Out in French

L1 + L2

À Moi Paris Method – Beginner

4.95 (215 reviews)

Asking Someone Out on a Date 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 lines, flirting vocabulary and even funny videos.

6 – To Enjoy, Like, love… to be in Love = the Tricky Verb Aimer

To enjoy, like, love… to be in love = aimer

The verb Aimer means a lot of things in French; to like, to enjoy, to love, as well as to be in love. It is very important that you know how to use it correctly so you avoid embarrassing mistakes.

7 – Un baiser, une Bise, un Bisou, Embrasser / French Kisses

Avoid a huge mistake baiser ≠ embrasser

This is such a common mistake, and it’s soooo embarrassing. The verb “to kiss” is “embrasser”. The NOUN “a kiss” is “un baiser” (une bise, un bisou…). Don’t use the noun as a verb… it now means to f..k.

8 – French Sex Vocabulary and Expressions

French Sex Vocabulary

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.

9 – French Women Don’t Date

Learn About Dating In France

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?

10 – 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.

11 – What to Expect at a Typical French Wedding?

A typical French Wedding + Wedding French Vocabulary

A couple of weeks 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 :-)

Joyeuse Saint Valentin !!

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