Yesterday was Remembrance day, and as a result I have been asked several times this week whether we wear poppies to celebrate fallen soldiers, and we don’t usually although some people wear cornflowers (les bleuets). However, the armistice is celebrated with a bank holiday (un jour férié) and  flowers are placed on the tomb of the unknown soldier (le soldat inconnu) beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The soldiers who fought in WW1 (la première guerre mondiale/la grande guerre) were called les poilus (the hairy ones). Over the months and years they developed a colourful slang (l’argot), words of which are still used today:

s’en balancer (to not care about something) Je m’en balance!
le barda (kit given to soldiers) J’ai pris tout mon barda en vacances
avoir les chocottes (to be scared) J’ai les chocottes
un chouia (a small quantity) J’en prendrai un chouia
une godasse (a leather shoe)
un tacot (an old car)

Here are a few more illustrations of this vocabulary:


To learn formal French and more informal French, to discover French history and culture,  you can still join our French courses in Bristol and Bath.