French Language Blog

Les embouteillages! Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in Music, Vocabulary


Normally I try to focus on writing about the fun things about summer: gardening, going to the beach, and going to music festivals. However, there is one unavoidable (and not-so-fun) fact of summer life in and around large French cities: les embouteillages!

Un embouteillage is a traffic jam, and there can be a lot of them in mid to late July around Paris and other large cities. Why? Because most city-dwellers in France take long vacations in summer and leave their cities in July, only to come back in late August for la rentrée (the beginning of school and work after summer vacation). During the month of August, large cities are emptied out; it can even be hard to find a restaurant or boutique that is open in a non-tourist area. But the lead-up to this large exodus can be tricky if you’re trying to get around — and you might find yourself stuck in some bouchons (traffic jams or, alternatively, caps or bottle stoppers).

Here is the first stanza to a song, called “Les Embouteillages,” by the band Sanseverino. Make sure you check out the video, as well as a list of vocabulary used in the song.

Les Embouteillages

On est un peu jaloux qu’ils arrivent avant nous
Mais on les laisse passer, dans les embouteillages
Quand les motards te font merci avec les pieds, merci avec les pieds
Ce ne sont pas des êtres humains, mais une espèce de Martien-Terrien
Ils ne connaissent pas la langue des mains
Il faut les voir foncer libres comme l’air
Heureux comme des goélands, ils ont l’air épanoui
Un casque sur la tête et à leurs mains des gants
Ils font tout sur leur moto mais la seule chose qu’ils ne pourront pas
C’est dormir en roulant sinon le drap s’envolera
Tu comprends



jaloux — jealous

laisse passer — to let pass

motards — motorcyclists

êtres humains — human beings

martien — a martian

connaitre (ils connaissent) — to know

la langue — language

foncer — to race

libre comme l’air — free as the air

les goélands — the gulls

l’air épanoui — to seem content

un casque — helmet

les gants — gloves

en roulant — literally, while rolling. Here it means while riding the motorcycle

le drap — the flag

s’envoler — to fly away




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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at A la prochaine!