1. "C'est le bordel"
Direct translation: It's a whorehouse
Meaning: It's crazy
Leave it to the French, with their sex appeal and thin cigarettes, to throw around the word "whorehouse" like it's no big deal.
2. "C'est un vrai casse-tête chinois"
Direct translation: It's a real chinese puzzle
Meaning: It's totally baffling
Those finger traps were pretty ingenious (and clearly left their mark on the French).
3. "Faire des messes basses"
Direct translation: To do the Low Massess
Meaning: To whisper or gossip
This older phrase draws its meaning from people literally gossiping during Mass. Tisk tisk.
4. "Faire du lèche-vitrine"
Direct translation: To go window-licking
Meaning: To window shop
In a country with big department stores like Le Bon Marché and Printemps, there's a lot of crazy expensive haute couture and fancy window displays that are worth drooling over.
5. "Avoir d'autres chats à fouetter"
Direct translation: To have other cats to whip
Meaning: To have others things to do
Some cultures revere all things feline, but the French use them as an excuse to bail on your dinner party.
6. "Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles"
Direct translation: To have an ass full of noodles
Meaning: To be lucky
I have...no idea on this one. I mean, I like noodles, but...
7. "Ca vaut son pesant de cachuètes"
Direct translation: It's worth its weight in peanuts
Meaning: It's cheap/useless
This makes perfect sense considering peanut butter is still a rare commodity in a country that prefers Nutella and Speculoos.
8. "Courir sur le haricot"
Direct translation: To run on a bean
Meaning: Get on someone's nerves
One more in a long line of food inspired phrases. It's all they're ever thinking about!
9. "Etre comme une poule qui a trouvé un couteau"
Direct translation: To be like a chicken who found a knife
Meaning: To be at a loss
In a country with a strong farming community this one is pretty creative (and relevant!).
10. "Il y a une couille dans le potage"
Direct translation: There is a testicule in the soup
Meaning: There is a problem here
A phrase that manages to mix both sex and food: A+.
11. "Je te vois venir avec tes gros sabots"
Direct translation: I see you coming with your big clogs
Meaning: I can see you coming from a mile away
Again, I'm at a loss here. I just love the idea of someone wearing GIANT clogs.
12. "Peigner la girafe"
Direct translation: To comb the giraffe
Meaning: To do something useless
Giraffes are native to Africa, and France has a fairly complicated relationship with that continent, so I'm guessing there's a link there.
13. "Se faire chier comme un rat mort"
Direct translation: To poop oneself like a dead rat
Meaning: To be really bored
Here the French language is used to its artistic height! Proust couldn't have said it better.
14. "Sucer les pissenlits par la racine"
Direct translation: To suck dandelions by the root
Meaning: To be dead
Great imagery. Manages to add a little whimsy to human mortality.
15. "La lune de miel"
Direct Translation: The moon of honey
Here's a consolation prize after all that craziness. We're not all that different after all!