Have you ever made a bloomer?

When we first arrived in the village…The Secretary at the Mairie introduced me to a very large lady.

I misheard and got the words Enceinte and Enseignante confused… I cheerfully asked the lady when she was expecting her baby… (turned out that she was the Teacher and she had not lost the excess weight from her last pregnancy…I felt so embarrassed.)

Fortunately, she saw the funny side of things… and we have been the best of friends every since…

So… have any of you dropped yourselves in it… and, if so… are you brave enough to share the details…??? :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:


Well not me but others have been embarrassed. One day a Brit near here introduced me to the Mayor and loving described me as an exhibitionist because of the way I was dressed which I have to admit was rather challenging. The Mayor looked shocked and it was only later my friend learnt that being an exhibitionist is a flasher. Just in case you are wondering I don’t own a mucky mac!

On another occasion the Mayor’s Secretary said she understood I was looking for a coq. Well, I thought, news that I am gay has spread really quickly but even so I thought the Mayor’s Secretary was being a bit forward. The following week, instead of introducing me to a nice man, she brought me a rather colourful (and noisy) cockerel.


Oh Dear Stella, you do know how to get us going (against our better judgements!), so here goes.

The day after we moved in to our new home I decided to have a go at lighting the boiler in our chaudiere. When we looked round the house on inspection I was rather terrified by it, it was a huge, floor-to-ceiling monstrosity with thick iron pipes sprouting at odd angles, angry looking dials, unbudgeable iron taps and a strong smell of fuel-oil, like the engine room a superannuated German U-boat.

When I pushed the ignition button it ground away in a menacing way, then with a loud bang and much irritable rattling of flaps in the chimney, its innards caught fire, coughed a couple of times, and died.

Later that day a man came from the local heating enterprise and took the thing to bits. It needed a new burner he said, Euro 700 plus labour (he gave me a detailed devis). We agreed (it was mid-October and the old stone house was freezing cold), and within an hour he was back on his knees in front of the horror installing the shiny new burner.

Now the bloomer. As he grovelled around with spanners and hammers at his work, I thought he might be thirsty and offered him a coffee. I had no idea what the coffee ritual involved then. “Si vous voulez”, he replied, still on his knees in front of the dismantled boiler. So I made him a cup of instant Nescafe in a mug, and put it on a stool in the chaudiere where he could sip it between hammer-blows and spanner turns.

When the work was finished he came into our kitchen washed his hands and produced the mug of cold coffee, setting it carefully on the kitchen table. Now we can drink our coffee, he said pleasantly, and smiled at me as if to say, “Where’s yours?”. It turned out he was the owner of the enterprise and that his father is the Maire.

I felt a right twerp. But I’ve learned some manners since!


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About a fortnight after I bought my house in we had a big storm. I was in a tizzy already because my 11 month old daughter no.4 was in hospital so the no electricity was the last straw.

Anyway I rang EDF who said ah yes, you’re still out, that’s normal the team are “à court de piles” what said I, short of batteries, you are EDF you have nuclear power stations what’s this about batteries.

Nonono said the lady the team est à court de piles, they are dealing with the substation. Ugh I said but why do they even need batteries oh forget it, thinking to hell with this grr grr.

Anyway it was after I had politely said merci au revoir faites au mieux etc etc that I realised that ‘Cours de Pile’ is actually a village down the road.

Bear in mind that as I am French she assumed I would have heard of this bled paumé…

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Well, I am very surprised that we have had 304 views… but only 4 of us admit to having made bloomers…

Can it really be that the other 300 are so fluent in French that they have never made a mistake…:innocent: ??? or are they just cowards…:grinning:

Ha ha, not at all Stella, I already owned up to one of my bloomers on a different post in August ! Here is the bloomer I posted then …
One of my many fraught and funny moments was during my first ‘French’ social occasion when I gaily remarked that I liked their bread as it had no preservatives. There was a moment of stunned silence and then gales of laughter while it was explained to me that I had just said that their bread had no durex ! :wink:

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Ok I will own up to this one as well, it was during the same occasion …
After yet another course of delicious food was eaten and second helpings offered I replied with “Non merci je suis pleine” (no thank you I am full) . Much hilarity as it was explained that I had just stated that I was pregnant !
Certainly an occasion to remember and an ice breaker too !
Thankfully my French has improved a lot since then :joy:

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Hi Ann… Actually, it breaks the ice nicely doesn’t it… giving folk something to laugh about…

I don’t make so many bloomers nowadays, but when I do… oh, that does have folk falling about with laughter… and I laugh too… (that is very important).

In my experience, there are many folk will not attempt to talk French for fear of making a mistake…

I go to work on the new arrivals (gently, or course)… and explain that the ability to laugh at one’s self, is an essential part of life here… it helps make friends and generally brings out the best in folk.

Early on when I was getting a quote from a local carpenter I thought he might offer a better price if he thought that there was more work for him in the future. I listed all the things on my to do list for the future; I explained that I would be needing a second staircase, a balustrade on a mezzanine floor, internal doors, external doors including a large barn door, a window or two and shutters. He looked at me straight faced and replied, I can see that but where are you going to put the ducks and geese?


Yes the ability to laugh at oneself helps a lot too.
I go to Tai chi and Qi gong classes, there is an English couple ( who speak French very well) among the many French who attend . Last night our teacher was explaining certain moves and what benefits they have health-wise during certain periods of the year. He then named all the movements in Chinese and asked if there were any questions, the 3 of us looked at one another and voiced the same thought, “oh no, it’s bad enough remembering all the French names and now we have to learn Chinese too”…That caused a good laugh and delayed our 5 minutes of meditation :slight_smile:

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Oh yes! Last year. A neighbour stopped her car to tell me her mum was really poorly and she was so upset. A couple of days later I bumped into her and she was crying really hard. I’m not fluent in French at all but I took it her poor elderly mother had passed away.

I am an avid card maker. Oh yes … you can see where this is going … So I posted a condolences card in her postbox the following day! Later that day I visited my next door neighbour for coffee (not the same neighbour you understand) … I mentioned the passing of the old lady, who was in fact the aunt of my neighbour. I explained everything and the card!!! She started laughing and rang her other aunt …

What a faux pas … the old lady had been been admitted to hospital, she hadn’t died at all!

Well … the week later she DID!

I still put my head down when I see the neighbour …


Two close ones, not language related. We nearly bought chrysanthemums for some friends when visiting at the end of October one year.

When we bought our house, sadly sold recently, we thought it was named “La Clotte”. I noticed the sign some fifty or so metres away down the road near a neighbour. I decided I was going to move it back where it belonged outside our house. Fortunately, I found out first that “La Clotte” was the lieu-dit.

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When we came to our village in the Auvergne, I took a friend and having walked round the village we called into the Marie and I introduced us. I started to explain what we were going to do to the house, explaining I would ‘’ removez ‘’ the garage doors, and our friend Mike - removez !! What !! Instead of using the correct French !! Also when we into a Mr Bricolarge I asked for wood ''preservative ‘’ which actually means I wanted a Condom for wood !! Oh la la !.

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What do you really call a bloomer?
An experience of bad luck, a bad judgment or when others can laugh at
you or with you?
Deciding to go out in the icy snow and heading towards Bordeaux and being
one of the cars slipping and sliding on icy back roads of St Emilion.
15 years ago we re discovered the cup cake and they were decorated like
works of art and sat prettily in our shop window in Chiswick. The little cakes were
great for celebrations but cost a lot of time and effort and without greater consideration
I was asked to stop selling them by my partner.
This was a bloomer or a blunder as we certainly should have stayed with these little
iced gems.
There have been shops opening every where selling them and making small fortunes.

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Hi Barbara

Apart from being a variety of loaf…:wink:

“Bloomer” is sometimes described as “a stupid blunder”… and it is up to the person/people concerned whether to laugh or cry… :grinning:

I started the thread… with a view to showing how easy it is to get things wrong…with the French language…

Realising that most people do make mistakes and “bloomers” , might encourage anyone who has been feeling uneasy about trying-out their language skills…
to have a go :grin:

Yes it is a variety of loaf…British I believe.
Ah just about language skills.

@Barbara_Deane … so what bloomers have you made with the French language, Barbara… ???

I think that Stella has an excellent description of what a bloomer is.

The thread on here was started so that we can all realise how easily it is to make those little faux-pas in French, that we are not alone in making mistakes.

It’s also to encourage people to have a go at using the language and not to feel silly or shy if we do make errors because despite not many people here owning up to it we all make bloomers with the language.

I am sure that we have all made mistakes and blunders in the UK, but this thread is about France and encouraging people here to share their experiences of bloomers they have made here.

The ability to laugh at oneself and with others is a great one and can be a real ice breaker ! :slight_smile:

How can pregnancy be portable… ??? no, it’s that word “enceinte” again…in this context “enceinte” is “speaker”… so, does this mean someone brandishing a megaphone, being carried on someone else’s shoulders…:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I only came across this oddity last Friday when I was looking at Bluetooth speakers in a large supermarket. I thought I recognised the word and immediately looked it up. Strange. It reminded me of the confusion I experienced before I realised that in German the same word means almonds and tonsils. Best to be careful when using a Google translate to read recipes.