Bonne Continuation

May 1, 2008 at 11:58 am | Posted in vie quotidienne | 11 Comments
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If you’ve lived in France for any amount of time, you’ll have noticed that the French have made a national pass time out of wishing each other pleasant activities. No, not engaging in pleasant activities — wishing that the ordinary events and activities of every day will be pleasant.

In French class, you might have learned that hello is bonjour, good evening is bonsoir, and good afternoon is bon après-midi. But it doesn’t stop there, because there’s also the option of bonne journée and bonne soirée. In all these years, I have not figured out the difference between bonsoir and bonne soiree, except that if you say bonsoir to someone, they are legally required to answer “bonne soirée!”

But these are not the only things you can be wished. There’s also bonne matinée, bon weekend, bonne fin de l’après-midi, bon dimanche, bonne fête, rebonjour, bonne route (for someone taking a drive), bonne séance (at the movies), bon vélib (for bicyclists)… It’s like they sit around dreaming up new ones, just to catch you off guard.

The other day Brumaire heard someone wished a hearty “Bon scan d’identification!” as they swiped their Navigo. Maybe this hobby has gone a little too far.



  1. bon écrit!

  2. 🙂

  3. You’re mixing up a few things…
    “Bonne après-midi” is not “good afternoon” but “have a good afternoon”.
    Same thing with “bonne soirée”, “bonne journée”, etc… They are for goodbyes, not hellos…

  4. Bon continuation, indeed! Your posts have been so regular lately that I am coming to think of you as the fiber cereal of the Blogosphere. The kind with dark chocolate shavings, of course.

  5. I love this observation, Amy! So so true… What about the ever-classy “Bonne bouffe!” Ah, you never know what to expect from those Frenchies, huh?!

    (And why did Meg have to mention dark chocolate shavings, by the way?! Doesn’t she KNOW that I’m pregnant and constantly suffering from chocolate cravings?!)

  6. I’ve heard ‘bonne film’ as well when going to the cinema. ‘bonne concert’ too. Oh and you forgot ‘bon voyage’!!

  7. and bon rétablissement!

  8. how about “bon vent”? has two meanings, “travel well” and “good riddance”.

    And david is right; bonne soirée and bonne journée are more goodbyes than anything else…

  9. I love how everyone has chimed in with the ones I missed… keep ’em coming! I love collecting these.

  10. Zut alors!
    How COULD you miss out the most important of all? Since life here in France is just one long meal, punctuated by rather inconvenient stops to work and sleep?

    Bon appétit!

    This takes the place of any other greeting, between 11.45 and 13.00. And is considered polite to say to other diners in a restaurant as you approach your table. And the waiter/ess will say this to you as you are served your entrée…

    You get the idea =)

  11. On the contrary, I’ve only lived in France for six months or so and while there are Gawd-knows-how-many gaps in my knowledge of the language, I can certainly say conclusively the difference between “bonsoir” and “boinsoirée”!

    Bonsoir is a greeting (“good evening”), whereas bonsoirée is, as David and JChevais said above, said on leaving. It’s the equivalent of the English “Have a good night,” or “enjoy your night,” the same way that “bonjournée” means “Enjoy your day.”

    I wouldn’t say there’s anything unusual about the number of things you can prefix with “Bon” either – “bonne fin de l’après-midi” just means “enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”

    In English we would think nothing of saying “enjoy your day,” “enjoy the movie”, “enjoy your swim,” or whatever else, and I at least wouldn’t really consider it inventing a new language construction, nor anything linguistically of much note at all!

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