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5 French Regional Expressions You Should Know

Do you ask for a "pain au chocolat" or a "chocolatine"? A "sac" or a "poche"? ...

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1. "Pain au chocolat" or "chocolatine"?


The famous French viennoiserie is called "pain au chocolat" or "chocolatine" according to the region you come from, and the etymology split the French! If some suppose that the "chocolatine" has an English origin (derivation of "chocolate in bread") which would explain the use of the word in the Southwest of France when the region belonged to the British crown, others think that the word was invented by an Austrian baker named August Zang, who opened the very first boulangerie viennoise at 92 rue Richelieu in what is now the second arrondissement of Paris. According to culinary historian Jim Chevalier, author of "August Zang and the French Croissant: How the Viennoiserie Came to France", it was the schokoladencroissant, a crescent-shaped, chocolate-filled brioche that slowly evolved into the rectangular chocolatine.

For "pain au chocolat" supporters, the name of the chocolate croissant comes from the traditional bread with a square of chocolate that eat children for after-school as a snack.

2. "Sac", "sachet", "cornet" ou "poche"?


If you are wondering if there is a difference between a "sac", a "sachet", a "sacoche", a "cornet", a "poche" or a "pochon" when referring to a bag, there is not :) But if you want your cashier to stop frowning every time you ask for a bag, check out the map to use the right local word!

3. "Moin" ou "moinss"?


The word "moins", which means "less" in English, has a different pronunciation according to the part of France you are living in. In the Southwest, French pronounce the "s" at the end whereas in the rest of the country, the "s" is silent!

4. 1, 2, 3 or 4 "bises"?


"Faire la bise" (cheek kisses) : French family, friends, and some colleagues exchange kisses on both cheeks upon meeting and leaving, as well as to congratulate or thank someone. But how many kisses are you supposed to give? The region you live in France will actually determine how many kisses to administer for la bise however; even by region there are discrepancies.... It all depends on who you talk to! Do not worry, two kisses, one on each cheek, is perfectly acceptable... ;)

5. Crayon à (de) papier / crayon gris / crayon de bois


This is also a word which strongly varies, and all three versions are used to describe a pencil. “Crayon à papier” (also “crayon de papier”) means “paper pencil” and is used in most regions, including around Paris. “Crayon gris” means “grey pencil” and is the preferred term in southern regions, while “crayon de bois”, literally “wood pencil” is the word they employ in the north of France.

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