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On Est Les Champions ! Renaming Le Métro For The French Team! Posted by on Jul 18, 2018 in Culture

This past month has been intense as countries around the world met en Russie (in Russia) for la Coupe du monde (the World Cup). After the excitement of making it to the finals, la France pushed it to the next level and won le tournoi (the tournament) with a thunderous chant of Allez les Bleus” (Let’s go France)!

Image by Kremlin.ru. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Dimanche dernier (last Sunday), the whole country erupted in celebration at the end of le match. The game came to a close with la France proving they are les champions du monde (the world champions) in a decisive victory over la Croatie. I happened to be à l’aéroport (at the airport) during the end and when the clock stopped and la France was declared le vainqueur (the victor), des Français in the food court began singing l’hymne national (the national anthem).

It was a magical moment to hear the familiar tune of la Marseillaise echo throughout l’aéroport :

Allons, enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!

Les fêtes (parties) broke out all over the country and bled into the late hours of night. With la finale falling on un dimanche (a Sunday), the following lundi (Monday) turned into an unofficial day off.

Among the fun celebrations leading to the French victory were many mèmes (memes, private jokes mainly on the internet). One that sticks out in my head played on la devise nationale (the national slogan) by replacing la fraternité (fraternity, brotherhood) with the name of one of France’s star players:

Liberté, Égalité, Mbappé
Liberty, Equality, Mbappé

Another very fun celebration came from le métro (the subway). La RATP (Régie autonome des transports parisiens, Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transports, official name for the public transport operator à Paris) created their own mème by “renaming” a few of les stations de métro (the subway stations).

The new names are des jeux de mots (plays on words) involving le foot français (French soccer). Les explications (the explanations) provided in the official RATP statement may be difficult to understand without deep knowledge of la culture française (French culture) and le foot (soccer, football). Let’s break it down so everyone learning le français can enjoy the celebrations and laugh at les jeux des mots :

Avron (ligne 2) devient « Nous Avron Gagné »
Avron (line 2) becomes “We have won”

“Avron” sounds and looks similar to “Avons” the conjugation for the first person plural, Nous (We), of Avoir (To Have).

As a reminder, voici les conjugaisons d’Avoir au présent de l’indicatif (here’s the conjugation for Avoir in the present indicative tense) :

J’ai
Tu as
Il/Elle/On a
Nous avons
Vous avez
Ils ont

For everyone learning French, cette blague (this joke) doubles as a good way to remember les conjugaisons !

Charles de Gaulle – Étoile (ligne 2) se transforme en « On a 2 Étoiles »
Charles de Gaulle – Étoile (line 2) transforms into “We Havz 2 Stars”

The deux étoiles (two stars) referenced here are the 2 World Cup titles France now has.

Victor Hugo (ligne 2) se mue en « Victor Hugo Lloris »
Victor Hugo (Line 2) changes to “Victor Hugo Lloris”

Hugo Lloris is le capitaine (the captain) of l’équipe français (the French team).

Bercy (lignes 6 et 14) dit « Bercy les Bleus »
Bercy (Lines 6 and 14) is now “Bery les Bleus”

This one is a pretty simple jeux de mots where Bercy sounds very similar to Merci (Thank you). The result leads to everyone understanding Merci les Bleus (Thanks to the French team) !

Notre-Dame des Champs (ligne 12) devient « Notre Didier Deschamps »
Notre-Dame des Champs (Line 12) becomes “Notre Didier Deschamps”

Didier Deschamps is le sélectionneur (head couch) of les Bleus (the Blues, French expression for the national French team).

Champs Elysées – Clémenceau (ligne 13) enfin, rend également hommage au sélectionneur de l’équipe de France en devenant « Deschamps Elysées – Clémenceau »
Lastly, Champs Elysées – Clémencaus (Line 13) is also paying homage to the French team’s head couch by becoming “Dechamps Elysées – Clémencau”

Deschamps is le nom du sélectionneur (the family name of the head couch) and the original name of la station made it an easy jeu des mots !

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

Football fever may be over for now, but it’s only four more years until the next Coupe du monde and shortly after that it will be time les Jeux olympiques à Paris !

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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.