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🎡 Les fêtes Foraines – Carnivals and Fun fairs French Vocabulary

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Oct 23, 2020
fair vue d'ensemble

Each summer, roving carnivals/ funfairs seize the villages of la campagne française (French countryside). Children love a Fun fair, adults are usually a bit mad at all the mess carnivals bring (limited parking, noise etc…).

Funfairs usually last for about a week in France, and come for special dates, very often around Bastille Day (le Quatorze Juillet,  AKA La Fête Nationale, but never referred to as “le jour de la Bastille”).

There are some big French funfairs which are fixed. They are there all year-round.

However, smaller, roving fun fairs going cross country are quite popular during the summer months. The same fun fair may also come back around the town’s Saint patron day.

So let’s begin our virtual visit of  French funfairs.

1 – Les Manèges – Merry Go Round and Rides

First of all, there are all kinds of manèges (Masculine. Merry-go-round and rides)

Pour les plus jeunes, la chenille (literally the caterpillar)

Access to the rides is regulated by height, but les forains (the people working at the fair) are much more lenient about it than in the US… as Olivier and Leyla demonstrate on the last picture above: it was really fast, Leyla is 8, loves it!!! (and can’t wait to be able to go on the REALLY scary rides)

2 – La Maison Hantée – The Haunted House

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haunted house fair fête foraine

La maison hantée (the French haunted house) is rather scary.

At the end of the scary ride among statues and robots, a real guy in a scary costume with a plastic chainsaw that makes a lot of noise usually jumps on you out of a black corner…

I thought Leyla was going to have a heart attack… And I was rather mad that they let us go on the ride!

3 – Other French Funfair Attractions

La pèche à la ligne – French hook a duck

Le stand de tir – French shooting range

Les auto-tamponneuses – French Dodgem

La Boîte à rire – the French fun house

Le trampoline

7 – And last but certainly not least, there is the French funfair FOOD !!!

  1. Des sucettes (f. – lollypops)
  2. Des bonbons (m. – candies)
  3. Des berlingots (m. – in the jars, pyramid shape traditional hard candies)
  4. Des pralines (f. – caramel coated nuts)
food fair

Du nougat (m. – it’s the same word in English. In Spanish it’s turrón)

And des pommes d’amour (f.- cooked apples dipped in red caramel, almost like la pomme de Blanche- Neige – certainly as toxic…)

nougats food fair

Des chichis, ou churros, et des crêpes… MIAM !!!!

chichis food fair

And much more: beignets (m.- fritters) or all sorts, sandwiches, paninis (grilled sandwiches)….

And of course, one cannot leave the fair without une barbe à papa (literally , a daddy’s beard: cotton candy) !!

leyla barbe a papa fair

Or in my case, barbe à maman !!!

camille barbe a papa fair

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Can You Understand Today’s Spoken French?

It’s not just slang. The French everybody speaks in France today is NOT the overly enunciated, extremely formal French usually taught to foreigners.