75 Famous French Proverbs you must know

famous French proverbs

Getting to know about some famous French Proverbs would be a great idea especially if you are planning for a tour de France. Even English speaking people would love to know about these proverbs as they are so famous that anyone can use it during one’s speed. Enjoy fun and spice up your speech with all time famous French proverbs as listed in the next heading.

Top 75 Famous French Proverbs everyone needs to know

1. Qui vivra verra (Time will tell)

You can only learn the result or outcome of something if a certain interval of time passes. Who knows the future! Only time will tell.

2. L’habit ne fait pas le moine ( the clothes do not make the man )

You can’t just judge a person by its appearance. There are a lot of other things that must be taken into account.

3. Chacun voit midi à sa porte (Everyone sees noon at his door)

Everyone fee that only he or she is right. Therefore, you have to understand that you can’t argue with other people opinions as everyone sees noon at his door.

4. Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

Meaning: prevention is better than cure

To prevent yourself getting ill, you must prevent yourself from eating irregular diet.

5. Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid

English equivalent: A bird builds it’s nest little by little

It is a beautiful proverb that tell you that expresses patience and hard work. There is no shortcut to success. Only little by little you can cover all the tracks that lead to your success.

6. Qui court deux lievres a la fois, n’en prend aucun

Translation: If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either

That means you can’t do two different tasks at the same time. In order to successfully chase your targets, you must take each task one by one.

7. Qui n’avance pas, recule

Meaning: Who does not move forward, recedes.

Meaning lies inside the proverb, as it says if you want to success and stay ahead, you need to move forward.

8. Quand on a pas ce que l’on aime, il faut aimer ce que l’on a

English translation: When one doesn’t have what one loves, it’s necessary to love what one has.

It is simple, you have to cherish what you have. Do not look at the stock of others. Just enjoy what you have got right now.

9. Il n’y a pas plus sourd que celui qui ne veut pas entendre (None so deaf as he that will not hear)

A person who is not going to hear what you going to say is no better than deaf.

10. À chaque fou plaît sa marotte (Every fool is pleased with his own folly)

In simple words it means that you can’t make fools understand things that they can’t. They will not be understanding whatever you tell them.

11. À chaque oiseau son nid est beau (The bird loves her own nest.)

Everyone of us love our home. It is our home where our heart lies. We can’t find peace in someone else home.

12. À goupil endormi rien ne tombe en la gueule (A closed mouth catches no flies)

To avoid embarrassment for one’s own words, you should better not talk. It is just better not to talk at all.

13. À mauvais ouvrier point de bon outil

English translation: A bad craftsman blames his tools.

If the results didn’t come to your favor, you can’t blame the examiners. Better pay attention to the tasks given to you. Then, give the best efforts and skills to get the desired outcome.

14. À l’œuvre, on connaît l’artisan (A workman is known by his chips.)

Your previous achievements defines you, just like a workman define by his skills.

15. À raconter ses maux, souvent on les soulage

A problem shared is a problem halved.

16. Aide-toi et le ciel t’aidera

Another famous French proverb is that Heaven helps those who help themselves. It is quite explanatory in itself. People who work hard would expect to get the help they deserve.

17. Amour, toux et fumée en secret ne sont demeurés

Love, smoke and cough are hard to hide. It is very hard to hide these habits as everyone can see them clearly without spying any further.

18. Apres la pluie, le beau temps (After rain comes sunshine)

Even after hard work, if the results are not coming in your favor don’t give up.  As after rain comes sunshine.

19. A qui la tête fait mal, souffre par tout le corps (When the head is sick, the whole body is sick.)

If one person of a family is sick, the whole family feels or bears his or her pain.

20. A vrai dire peu de paroles (Truth gives a short answer, lies go round about)

It will only takes a few words to tell the truth. To tell a lie you need a whole story.

21. Beaucoup de paille, peu de grains

Means that there is “Much ado about nothing.” Nothing bad has happened. Therefore, why are you so worry about.

22. Bien nourri et mal appris (Better fed than taught.)

Some people can’t understand by mere speech. In order to make them understand you have to teach them a lesson by force of hand. Don’t illustrate what you are going to do, just do it.

23. Bon cœur ne peut mentir (The heart sees farther than the head)

It is also a famous French proverb that simply means that heart can see and feel better than the head.

24. Bon marché tire agent de bourse  (If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly)

Some times cheap things can cost you more money as compared to the pricey ones. A complex and important task done with cheap tools would end badly. Better use quality tools to achieve the task at its best.

25. Bon sang ne saurait mentir (Good blood always shows itself)

Sincere and honest friends or relatives will always help you. When no one else come to your help, your true friend or relative will come to your rescue.

26. Bonne renommée vaut mieux que ceinture dorée (A good name is the best of all treasures)

In other words it means that good reputation cost more than money.

27. Bons nageurs sont à la fin noyés

English translation: Good swimmers are often drowned.
People who know who to dive are more often to be drowned. Because those who stay just avoid the pain.

28. Ce qui croît soudain, périt le lendemain (Early ripe, early rotten.)

In order to get the most advantage out of something you did, you must have your patience. It is best to pluck fruits when they are ripen.

29. C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron

Practice makes perfect.

30. Chagrin partagé, chagrin diminué; plaisir partagé, plaisir doublé

In other words: Joy shared, joy doubled: sorrow shared, sorrow halved.

31. Chaque jour une pomme conserve son homme (An apple a day keeps the doctor away)

It is simple, just eat one apple a day. It will keep you healthy. Doctor will stay away from your door.

32. Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même (Charity begins at home)

First, take good care of your family, relatives, and neighbors. Because the charity begins at home.

33. Chien qui aboie ne mord pas (Barking dogs seldom bite)

Words of mouth are not just quite enough to scare someone. Because barking dogs seldom bite.

34. C’est dans le besoin qu’on reconnaît ses vrais amis (A friend in need is a friend indeed)

A person who help you when you are in need is indeed your real friend.

35. Diviser pour régner (Divide and conquer)

It is a great technique to create enmity among your enemies. As their unity shatters, you will more likely to win over them.

36. Faire d’une mouche un éléphant

Meaning: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
Nothing bad has happened so why so much cry.

37. Folle est la brebis qui au loup se confesse (It’s a foolish sheep that makes the wolf his confessor)

Asking advice from your enemies or people who hate you is just like a foolish sheep who makes wolf his confessor.

38. Hâtez-vous lentement

Meaning: More haste, less speed

Keep patience in your work as more speed will make thing worse.

39. Il faut bonne mémoire après qu’on a menti (A liar should have a good memory)

Contradictory statements come out the mouth of a bad liar.

40. Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger (Gluttony kills more than the sword)

Greed is a curse that has killed more people than sword.

41. Il faut prêcher d’exemple

If you want to inspire people, you have to lead by example.

42. Il ne faut pas changer d’attelage au milieu d’un gué (Don’t change horses in midstream)

If you have started a task with a good approach you have to stick to those tactics. Even if the results in some mid-time are not coming as you expected. Just stay on your course and soon things will come to your favor.

43. Il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu (Where there’s smoke, there’s fire)

If a task is taking long to complete, thing is that there are some problems that are needed to be address.

44. Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué (Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched)

Your assets are the one ready to be spent. Those that are work in progress are not counted as your real assets.

45. Jamais paresseux n’eut grande écuelle

Meaning that poverty is the reward of idleness. Do something to fulfill your needs and demands.

46. La variété plaît

English equivalent: Variety is the spice of life.

47. Les fous inventent les modes, et les sages les suivent

Don’t do as someone else suggest you. Use your own mind and skills.

48. Les cordonniers sont les plus mal chaussés (The shoemaker goes barefoot)

Don’t end up working for others. Because shoemaker often goes barefoot.

49. L’habit ne fait pas le moine (You can’t judge a book by its cover)

In order to understand the real quality of something, you first have to use it. Then you can judge whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

50. L’espoir fait vivre

It simply means that where there’s life, there’s hope.

51. Les habitudes ont la vie dure (Old habits die hard)

People don’t give up their old habits as they are hard to die.

52. Les rats quittent le navire qui coule (Rats desert a sinking ship)

Rat is said to be the first judge of a coming disaster. So they are the first to desert the ship.

53. La parole est d’argent, mais le silence est d’or (Speech is silver, Silence is golden)

Silence is better than a worthless speech.

54. Les murs ont des oreilles (Walls have ears)

Keep secrets in your heart as even the walls have ears.

55. Mieux vaut savoir que richesse (A good mind possess a kingdom)

Knowledge is worth more than gold. A person of good mind is a king among his or her company.

56. Mieux vaut peu que rien (Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow)

It is better to use something right now. As who know when the egg will hatch you a hen some other day.

57. Noblesse oblige (Nobility forces)

The higher the rank, more responsibility will fall on your shoulder. As nobility forces responsibility on one’s shoulder.

58. On ne prend pas les oiseaux à la tartelle (Deal gently with the bird you mean to catch)

A hunter must hunt with care otherwise he or she will end destroying his or her prey.

59. Patience passe science (An ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains)

Patience is necessary to get result out of something you did before. There is no shortcut so why keep spending your time on finding shortcuts.

60. Quand on dîne avec le diable, il faut se munir d’une longue cuiller

English translation: If you are going to eat with the devil, you must have a long spoon.

Meaning that if someone treat other people badly, time will come when he will turn onto you.

61. Qui a age, doit être sage (Reason does not come before years)

We learn things after we experience them. Mistakes give us knowledge of not doing them again.

62. Qui a bu, boira (Once a drunkard always a drunkard; Once a thief always a thief)

It is another famous French proverb that means thief will never give up on looting, once a thief always a thief.

63. Que bien aime, tard oublie.

It means that true love never grows old.

64. Qui mal commence, mal achève (A bad beginning makes a bad ending)

Better start make a better ending, bad start make a bad ending.

65. Qui ne risque rien n’a rien

Without taking risks you will get nothing.

66. Qui se croit sage est un grand fou

It is one of my favorite French proverbs. It means that the first chapter of fools is to think themselves wise.

67. Qui se fait brebis, le loup le mange

It is another famous French proverb. It means that one who makes himself an ass must not take it ill if men ride him. In simple words if you are letting other abuse you people will keep humiliating you or you should stop making an ass of yourself.

68. Rendre le bien pour le mal (If life gives you lemons, make lemonade)

Meaning that make something good out of bad things that has happened to you before. Don’t repeat your mistakes again.

69. Revenons à nos moutons

English translation: Let us get back to our sheep.

Let’s get back to the situation in hand. Focus on the thing you are doing rather than distracting on less important things. .

70. Sans tentation, il n’y a point de victoire

English equivalent: Where there is no temptation there is no glory.

In order to achieve victory you must be tempted to something good. Then you will be able to achieve glory at its extreme.

71. Se couper le nez pour faire dépit à son visage

English translation: Cut off your nose to spite your face.

Meaning that just don’t act on a feeling of revenge. Think with your mind and then take a reasonable course of action.

72. Tel maître, tel valet (Like master, like man.)

Another meaning is that people are known by the company they keep.

73. Un peu d’aide fait grand bien (All contributions, however small, are of use)

In other words it means that imply all your resources, however small they are.

74. Un point fait à temps en sauve cent (A stitch in time saves nine)

It is another famous French proverb that means that to do something when the time is right will save you any further trouble.

75. Ventre affamé n’a point d’oreilles (Words are wasted on a starving man)

It is another beautiful French proverb that people can use whenever needed. Words are wasted on a starving man means that even preachers know that there words make no difference to the people dying out of hunger. As starving men need food rather than speech.

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