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French Vocabulary

Les fêtes Foraines – Carnivals and Fun fairs French Vocabulary

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on June 9, 2015
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 French Vocabulary

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

A rather traditional one

manège fete foraine fair

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

chenille fair fête foraine

I have no idea how this is called, but no-way I’m getting on this… 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…

fête foraine fair ride

… as Olivier and Leyla demonstrate on this one: it was really fast, Leyla is 8, loves it!!! (and can’t wait to be able to go on the REALLY scary rides)

ride 2 fête foraine fair

2 – La Maison Hantée – The Haunted House- a Traditional Funfair Attraction

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!

haunted house fair fête foraine

3 – Other French Funfair Attractions

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La pèche à la ligne – French hook a duck

peche a la ligne fair fête foraine

Le stand de tir – French shooting range

tir fête foraine fair

Les auto-tamponneuses – French Dodgem

The kid’s version is rather slow

auto-tamponeuses fête foraine fair

The teenager’s version – responsible for soooo many neck injuries…

auto tamponneuse teen fair fête foraine

4 – La Boîte à rire – the French fun house

And one of Leyla’s favorite: la boîte à rire: a house with plenty of tricks inside, you need to climb on moving stuff, jump into a pit full of plastic balls, climb ladders…

la boite a rire fair

and it ends with un toboggan (a slide) – with a very happy Leylounette on it :-)

toboggan fair

5 – Le trampoline

I really think this is on top of Leyla’s list: un trampoline with rubber ropes that allows you to jump really high up in the air (note the Breton flag in the back of the picture… how patriotic).

leyla trampoline fair

And here is one that’s typically French! A soccer practice booth!!

foot fair

6 – New French Fun Fair Carnival Attraction – the Ball over Water

This is the newest attractions of all – I saw it for the first time last year (2012).

First your kid steps into a plastic ball. Then they inflate the ball.

ball 1 leyla fair

Then they help the kid roll onto the water. And then they have to run, just like a hamster :-) It’s trickier than it sounds…

ball 3 leyla fair

Most of the time Leyla is more les quatre fers en l’air (expression meaning having fallen on one’s back, with the four legs up in the air).

ball 4 leyla fair

The worse is probably how much I laugh at my poor and helpless kid repetitious wipes out… Look at the video… I just can’t stop laughing… (it’s OK, you can laugh too)…

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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