‘I broke my face’: How to say you’ve had too much to drink in French

There are almost as many ways to say you’ve had one too many in French as there are wine producers in France.

'I broke my face': How to say you've had too much to drink in French
What starts as a simple post-work drink could stretch long into the evening Photo: Bertrand Guay / AFP

In fact, any one of these describes the mood and the moment perfectly well: [used with être] éméché, saoul, soûl, enivré, ivre, bitteré, bourréje suis bourré, j’etais bourré hier.

Alternatively, there’s: Boire un coup de trop – which means to drink a bit too much (j’ai bu un coup de trop – “I had one too many”).

But they’re all a little formal. A romance language as poetic as French can do better. And it does. Here are just a few – you just may need to be a little careful in front of the boss or the in-laws:

[Être] pompette  – a lovely little phrase to describe that lovely little feeling of being just a bit tipsy, when you’re at that love-the-world stage of your night out. Your bar banter is the funniest it will ever be, and if you stopped now, everything would be fine, but then…

Use it like this: je suis pompette – “I’m tipsy”.

Déchiré – is at the other end of the night out spectrum to pompette. You may have started the evening in saintly mode, telling everyone Je veux pas être trop bourré(e) (I don’t want to drink too much), but you went too far and got déchiré – think ‘hammered’ and you’ll be on the money. 

Use it like this: je suis déchiré – “I am hammered”.

Se péter la gueule – literally, to break your face and is a poetically brutal French way of saying you’re ‘smashed’. You could also use se beurrer la gueule (buttering your face) for that delightful ‘being plastered’ image.

Use it like this: elle s’est pété la gueule – “she’s smashed”.

Complètement pété – direct and to the point, this one, and about as poetic as a pissoir after a riot at a beer festival. If we’re being polite, it means ‘wasted’. Don’t say it about a co-worker in front of the boss at the Christmas do.

Use it like this: il est completement pété – “he is completely wasted”. (ahem)

And a few more: 

Se prendre une culotte – trousered. Very sartorial. Use it like this: il se prend une culotte

Plein comme une barrique – (as full as a barrel) bladdered. Use it like this: Il est plein comme une barrique

S’arracher la face – (tear your face off) off your face. Use it like this: tu t’es arraché la face

S’éclater la tronche – literally to smash your face and one or several steps beyond s’arracher la face. Use it like this: il s’est éclaté la tronche

Se mettre la tête à l’envers  – out of your head (literally ‘turn your head upside down’) Use it like this: elle s’est mis la tête à l’envers

Other useful night-out phrases

Sam – Introducing the universal term for the non-drinking designated driver for the evening. The expression comes from an old French government road safety campaign to promote driving without drinking. The acronym stands for Sans Accidents Mortels (no fatal accidents).

Use it like this: Qui se fait Sam ce soir ? – “Who’s the designated driver tonight?”

PLS – another acronym it’s handy to know if someone in your party goes overboard. PLS stands for Position Latéral de Sécurité – also known as the recovery position. It can also be used to describe how you’re looking after your tender morning-after self.

Use it like this: Aujourd’hui je ne fais rien, je suis en PLS sur mon canapé à regarder Netflix – Today I’m not doing anything, I’m recovering on the couch, watching Netflix.”

Speaking of that hangover feeling, here’s a couple of other ways to describe it.

Gueule de bois – This literally translates as a ‘wooden face’ and describes the tender head, churning nausea and vague sense of dread that follows a night out that perhaps went a little too far. 

Use it like this: J’ai la gueule de bois aujourd’hui, je crois que j’ai bu trop de vin à la fête – “I am hungover today, I think I drank to much wine at the party.”

Caisse – This French slang has three meanings – but we’re not interested in the one for ‘car’ or ‘fart’. We want to know about the one that refers to someone who’s enjoyed a bit too much of the happy juice. Prendre une caisse means to party hard – perhaps a bit too hard. Caning it, you might say.

Use it like this: il avait pris une caisse pendant la soirée – “He was really caning it at the party.”

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Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

Plumbing ermergencies are common in France, so here's our guide to what to do, who to call and the phrases you will need if water starts gushing in unexpected areas.

Plumbing Emergencies in France: Who to call and what to say

How do I find a reliable plumber and avoid getting scammed?

First, try to stick with word-of-mouth if you can. Contact trusted individuals or resources, like your neighbours and friends, or foreigner-oriented Facebook groups for your area (ex. “American Expats in Paris”). This will help you find a more reliable plumber. If this is not an option for you, try “Pages Jaunes” (France’s ‘Yellow Pages’) to see reviews and plumbers (plomberie) in your area. 

Next, educate yourself on standard rates. If the situation is not an emergency, try to compare multiple plumbers to make sure the prices are in the correct range. 

Finally, always Google the name of the plumber you’ll be working with – this will help inform you as to whether anyone else has had a particularly positive (or negative) experience with them – and check that the company has a SIRET number.

This number should be on the work estimate (devis). You can also check them out online at If you want to be extra careful you can also ask to see their carte artisan BTP (craftsman card). 

READ MORE: What is a SIRET number and why is it crucial when hiring French tradesmen?

Who is responsible for paying for work?

If you own the property, you are typically the one who is responsible for financing the plumbing expenses.

However if you’re in a shared building, you must determine the cause and location of the leak. If you cannot find the origin of the leak, you may need a plumber to come and locate it and provide you with an estimate. You can use this estimate when communicating with insurance, should the necessity arise. 

If you are a renter, the situation is a bit more complicated. Most of the time, water damage should be the landlord’s responsibility, but there are exceptions.

The landlord is obliged to carry out major repairs (ex. Natural disaster, serious plumbing issues) that are necessary for the maintenance and normal upkeep of the rented premises (as per, Article 6C of the law of July 6, 1989). The tenant, however, is expected to carry out routine maintenance, and minor repairs are also to be paid by the tenant. If the problem is the result of the tenant failing to maintain the property, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of the repair.

Legally speaking, it is also the tenant’s responsibility to get the boiler serviced once a year, as well as to maintain the faucets and joints, and to avoid clogging the pipes.

READ MORE: Assurance habitation: How to get home insurance in France

If you end up in dispute with your landlord over costs, you can always reach out to ADIL, the national Housing Association which offers free legal advice for housing issues in France. 

What happens if the leak is coming from my neighbour’s property?

Both you and your neighbour should contact your respective housing insurance companies and file the ‘sinistre’ (damage) with them.

If you both agree on the facts you can file an amiable (in a friendly fashion), then matters are much more simple and you will not have to go through the back-and-forth of determining fault.

If having a friendly process is not possible, be sure to get an expert to assert where the leak is coming from and file this with your insurance company.

As always, keep evidence (lists and photographs) of the damage. Keep in mind that many insurance providers have a limited number of days after the start of the damage that you can file. Better to do it sooner than later, partially because, as with most administrative processes in France, it might take a bit of time.


Plumbing has its own technical vocabulary so here are some words and phrases that you’re likely to need;

Hello, I have a leak in my home. I would like to request that a plumber come to give me an estimate of the damage and cost for repairs – Bonjour, j’ai une fuite chez moi. Je voudrais demander qu’un plombier vienne me donner une estimation des dégâts et du coût de la réparation. 

It is an emergency: C’est une urgence

I have no hot water: Je n’ai pas d’eau chaude

The boiler has stopped working: La chaudière ne fonctionne plus.

I cannot turn my tap off: Je ne peux pas arrêter le robinet.

The toilet is leaking: Mes toilettes fuient.

The toilet won’t flush/ is clogged: Mes toilettes sont bouchées

There is a bad smell coming from my septic tank: Il y a un mauvaise odeur provenant de ma fosse septique

I would like to get my electricity / boiler safety checked: Je souhaiterais une vérification de la sécurité de mon installation électrique / de ma chaudière

I can smell gas: Ca sent le gaz

My washing machine has broken: Ma machine a laver est cassée

Can you come immediately? Est-ce que vous pouvez venir tout de suite?

When can you come? Quand est-ce que vous pouvez venir?

How long will it take? Combien de temps cela prendra-t-il ?

How much do you charge? Quels sont vos prix? / Comment cela va-t-il coûter?

How can I pay you? Comment je peux vous payer ? 

Here are the key French vocabulary words for all things plumbing-related:

Dishwasher – Lave vaisselle

Bath – Baignoire

Shower – Douche

Kitchen Sink – Évier

Cupboard – Placard

Water meter – Compteur d’eau

The Septic Tank – La fosse septique

A leak – Une fuite

Bathroom sink – Le lavabo

The toilet – La toilette

Clogged – Bouché

To overflow – Déborder

A bad smell – Une mauvaise odeur

The flexible rotating tool used to unclog a pipe (and also the word for ferret in French) – Furet 

Water damage – Dégât des eaux

The damage – Le sinistre

And finally, do you know the French phrase Sourire du plombier? No, it’s not a cheerful plumber, it’s the phrase used in French for when a man bends down and his trouser waistband falls down, revealing either his underwear or the top of his buttocks. In Ebglish it’s builder’s bum, in French ‘plumber’s smile’.