For members


French phrase of the Day: Faire barrage

What does the Hoover Dam have in common with some of Macron’s voters? 

French phrase of the Day: Faire barrage
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know faire barrage?

Because it’s a neat little expression that crops up all the time in news articles and political statements. 

What does it mean?

barrage is a dam or a barricade, so the verbal construction faire barrage literally means ‘to make a barrier’. If you try to faire barrage à quelque chose, you are attempting to obstruct, block, or counter something. 

The phrase is often seen in political discourse, especially when it comes to uniting against the extreme right in France. Many people voted for Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the 2017 presidential elections in order to faire barrage à Marine Le Pen and block her chances of becoming president (also known as the Front républicain).

Faire barrage also crops up throughout the French news and in all kinds of texts, from adverts for products to prevent insect infestations, to charity organisations seeking to counter poverty. 

Use it like this

Il faut faire barrage à de telles propositions – These proposals must be stopped.

L’éducation est un outil important pour faire barrage à la radicalisation et à l’extrémisme – Education is an important tool to counter radicalisation and extremism. 


Contrer – to counter

Bloquerto block

Empêcher – to prevent

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener