French Language Blog

Little Red Chaperon Rouge – Fairy Tale French Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Culture, Vocabulary

When I was looking up the origin of the French expression, être connu comme le loup blanc (to be known like the white wolf), I was reminded of the most famous story I know that features un loup: Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood). That made me curious about les contes de fées en français (fairy tales in French)!

Jenna Red” by Robert Bejil on Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Il était une fois, dans un royaume lointain… 
Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom… 

This familiar phrase immediately brings up thoughts of les contes de fées and other fantasy stories like Harry Potter. The common themes of les contes de fées that begin with il était une fois are magical creatures and old kings and knights from stories everyone remembers loving as kids.

Many contes de fées include un monstre (a monster) that is not necessarily magical, but still very scary. However, even if the protagonist needs help from une fée marraine (a fairy god mother) or a righteous king, most of the time everyone knows how l’histoire (the story) ends:

Ils vecurent heureux et eu beaucoup d’enfants.
They lived happily ever after. (litterally: they lived happily and had many children.)

In Le Petit Chaperon rouge, it’s the famous grand méchant loup (big bad wolf) that is le monstre du conte de fées. Not only does le loup blow down the house of Les Trois Petits Cochons (The Three Little Pigs), he also eats la grande-mère du Petit Chaperon rouge!

It’s a lot of fun to learn how to talk about les contes de fées we all heard growing up! Take a moment to learn some fantasy vocabulary with ce petit vocabulaire des contes de fées :

Image by Normanack on Flickr. Licensed uner CC BY 2.0.

Little Red Riding Hood – Le Petit Chaperon rouge
The Big Bad Wolf – Le grand méchant loup (or simply le loup)
Fairy God Mother – La fée marraine
Cinderella – Cendrillon
Three Little Pigs – Les Trois Petits Cochons
Snow White – Blanche-Neige
Prince Charming – Le Prince Charmant
Tale – Le conte
Fairy tale – Le conte de fées
Wizard – Le sorcier
Witch – La sorcière
Dragon – Le dragon
Dwarf – Le nain
Elf – L’elfe
Troll – Le troll
Fairy – La fée
Phoenix – Le phénix
Monster – Le monstre
Magic wand – La baguette magique
Staff – Le bâton

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.