9 Quebec French Expressions That Are Super Strange For People From France

Do you speak Franglais?

Staff Writer
Two people walk down rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal on a snowy day. A text bubble above one of their heads reads: "Y fait frette en câlisse!"

Two people walk down rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal on a snowy day. A text bubble above one of their heads reads: "Y fait frette en câlisse!"

It takes some time for newcomers from France to adjust to their new environment in Montreal. On top of the icy winter temps that make us question our life choices, we also have to navigate the peculiarities of the local French language. Though similar to our own, it has a different vocabulary and challenging pronunciations.

Luckily, we get used to it quicker than English-speaking Canadians — it's still French after all. It just takes a few misunderstandings and awkward language moments with our québécois cousins.

Here are nine Quebec French expressions that are super weird for people from France, but that you really should learn.

Attache ta tuque!

First, I didn't know that "tuque" meant "beanie" in Canada. Someone explained, but then I thought I was asked to tie my wool cap on my head, literally. Not my finest moment.

The expression actually means "buckle up!" or "get ready!"

Fin (m.)/ fine (f.)

Calling someone "fin" or "fine" in Montreal is a compliment, meaning "sweet" or "nice."

But in France, people would assume you're talking about their slim figure, and commenting on someone's weight is a big no-no in 2023.


This term does exist in France, but it's so old and unused that I thought it had something to do with jazz music.

I was so wrong. The verb simply means "to chat" or "to talk."

Le chum (m.)/ la blonde (f.)

These are the Quebec French words to refer to someone's boyfriend or girlfriend.

Yet, bafflingly, the girlfriend doesn't necessarily have to have blond hair.

Le char

Nope, Montrealers do not ride military tanks or two-wheel carts pulled by horses like in ancient Greece.

If that's what "char" could refer to in France, here it's a word for car.

Il fait frette

"Frette" is colder than "froid," the type of coldness you only get during Canadian winters when it feels like -8000 outside.

Essential in Quebec, this expression doesn't exist in France.

C'est pas si pire!

This sentence means "it's not bad" or "it's not so bad."

This local expression is easy to understand for people from France, but we would express the same sentiment using a different structure: "c'est pas si mal," for instance.


I love how Montrealers can switch from French to English in one sentence so effortlessly.

Franglais makes this city unique in North America, and I don't see it as a decline of the French language.

It's quite the opposite — locals have mastered both languages to the extent that a new hybrid dialect has come to life.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, people in France are among the worst English speakers in Europe, and many would run away if you dare to approach them with a "hello."


This verb describes the action of doing some shopping. With hindsight, I find the term quite logical.

In France, we say "faire les magasins" instead, which literary translates to "do the shops."

Don't ask me why, I didn't make the rules.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Charlotte Hoareau
Staff Writer
Charlotte Hoareau is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused in things to do in Montreal and Montreal weather. She is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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