DIY French Style Posted by on Feb 9, 2021 in Business, Culture, Vocabulary

Like many people around the world, people in France have used their time at home during the pandemic to make home improvements with a little DIY French Style.

DIY French Style

According to one poll, as early as the first confinement last spring almost 1/3 des français (31%) said they were doing more travaux d’entretien1maintenance work(s) and bricolage2from the verb bricoler, to tinker or fiddle about. Grace aux tutoriels vidéos sur Internet3thanks to internet video tutoriels, some of the activities they planned to knock out during their down time include:

Changer une ampoule 
Change a lightbulb
Procéder à un grand nettoyage de printemps 
Do the spring cleaning
Monter un meuble 
Put a piece of furniture together
Repeindre les murs 
Repaint the walls
Changer la serrure d’une porte 
Change the lock on a door
Faire de la plomberie4la plomberie shares a root with the French word for leadle plomb
Do some plumbing
Installer des systèmes domotiques pour la maison 
Install smart home systems

Quincaillerie ou magasin de bricolage

For many, the two are synonymous. But une quincaillerie is a more traditional hardware store (and they have been around for generations) while un magasin de bricolage is a bit of a newer concept. They usually will sell de la quincaillerie5hardwareet des outils6tools … but also sell more. Essentially everything you need to complete those little DIY projects around la maison ou le jardin7the house or garden.

Go to either though, and you’re likely to find …

La boite à outils 
le marteau 
le clou
le tournevis
le vis
la clé
la pince
le boulon
la scie
la perceuse
la peinture
le pinceau
paint brush
le rouleau à peindre
paint roller
le niveau
step ladder

Check out this great video highlighting some Covid confinement bricoleurs and see how they’re getting the DIY done French style!

Pour approfondir votre vocabulaire

A few weeks ago in a post about the recent neige en France I shared this video showing some of the highlights. At about 55 seconds the reporter uses an expression that was new to me … but fits nicely with this week’s topic. Le système D in which the ‘D’ stands for the word débrouille. 

From the French verb débrouiller (to disentangle, to unravel) (but also se débrouiller/to manage, to cope, to handle), débrouille means “to make do, to improvise to get by“. So le système D refers to any situation where you’re resorting to what’s available to accomplish a task (like cooking outside on your camping stove during une panne d’éléctircité8a power outage/power failure!).

How To Find A Hardware Store in French

Tool Trouble Hinging On A Good Night’s Sleep – Hardware In French

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


  1. Terri:

    Hi Tim, in English you say “make do” as in to make something work. “Make due” is when you have to pay the bill. Have a good day,

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Terri Merci, Terri! I learned something new today!

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