Want to impress with your knowledge of the French language AND cinema? Then, quotes from famous French movies are a great way to start. Funny or romantic, slang or poetic, they teach you different aspects of spoken French and help you develop your vocabulary and improve your listening skills when you watch a French film, while also increasing your awareness of popular culture in France. Whatever genre or language register you’re interested in, here are some of the best lines from French movies.
- 2 of the best Amélie Poulain quotes in French
- 2 of the best French film quotes with a poetic twist
- 2 of the best movie quotes using French slang
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2 of the best Amélie Poulain quotes in French
One of the most successful films ever made in France, Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (or simply Amélie in English) has delighted audiences across the globe with its whimsical characters and its romanticized view of Paris. We also think it’s one of the best movies you can watch for learning and practicing French.
“Vous au moins vous ne risquez pas d’être un légume puisque même un artichaut a du cœur !”
Translation: “You, at least, don’t risk being taken for a vegetable since even an artichoke has a heart.”
Try as we might, this doesn’t fully convey the pun in this sentence, as in French, “to have an artichoke heart” is a phrase to describe somebody who is fickle or soft-hearted and who easily falls in love. A perfect comeback from Amélie against Colignon, the rude and insensitive local grocer.
“C’est l’angoisse du temps qui passe qui nous fait tant parler du temps qu’il fait.”
Translation: “It’s the anguish of time going by that makes us talk so much about what the weather’s like.”
Another pun that is hard to translate, this time because the word temps has two meanings – “time” or “weather”. Hipolito, the unpublished author and café regular, is prone to such French sayings about life, often to the despair of other customers and waitresses…
2 of the best French film quotes with a poetic twist
“Jusqu’ici tout va bien. Jusqu’ici tout va bien. Jusqu’ici tout va bien. Mais l’important, c’est pas la chute. C’est l’atterrissage.”
Translation: “So far, so good. So far, so good. So far, so good. But the important bit, it’s not the fall. It’s the landing.”
A far cry from Amélie with its black-and-white depiction of poor and violent Parisian suburbs, La Haine (Hate) is another must-see of French cinema. Without giving too much away, it is enough to say the movie ends on a moral twist, made even more powerful by these final words.
“- Je suis, mon cher ami, très heureux de te voir. – C’est un alexandrin !”
Translation: “- I am, my dear friend, very happy to see you. – It’s an Alexandrine.”
This is how Numerobis chooses to greet his friend Panoramix (known as Getafix in English) after having traveled all the way from Egypt to a certain Gallic village at the start of Astérix et Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre (Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra). In French, un alexandrin could mean either a person from Alexandria, like Numerobis, or the famous type of verse used in many of the best French poems. One of its main characteristics is to be made exactly of twelve syllables, as the greeting phrase from Numerobis happens to be…
2 of the best movie quotes using French slang
“Si vous n’aimez pas la mer, si vous n’aimez pas la montagne, si vous n’aimez pas la ville… allez vous faire foutre.”
Translation: “If you don’t like the sea, if you don’t like the mountain, if you don’t like the city… go to hell!”
One of the most acclaimed films from the French New Wave, À bout de souffle (Breathless) follows Michel Poiccard, a young thug on the run, and Patricia, his American love interest. At one point, while driving on a countryside road, Michel keeps turning his head to the camera to tell us exactly how he feels if we are too fussy about locations…
“Les cons, ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnait.”
Translation: “Morons, they dare anything, that’s even how you recognize them.”
This line from Les Tontons flingueurs (Crooks in Clover) is one of the most well-known from Michel Audiard, who is arguably the most famous dialogue writer of French cinema. It is also one of his many lines about the cons, a very common slang word for “morons” or “idiots”, or even sometimes “jerks”.
That’s not all, folks!
And here we are, six iconic lines from French cinema. We have chosen films from various genres, periods and language registers. But this list only serves as an appetizer and we hope it will entice you to watch more French movies, learn their most famous quotes and continue practicing your French.
Apprenez une langue à votre rythme
Anne-Lise is a translator and copywriter working for various industries, such as hospitality and travel, as well as health and well-being. Settled down in London since the end of her university years, she cannot get enough of the exceptional cultural life in the English capital city, starting with theater, be it to see a new West End show or to roll up her sleeves with her amateur drama group. She is also interested in photography, as her Instagram profile shows. She indulges her passion for languages in a translation blog she writes with other linguist friends. Go to her Linkedin page to know more about her background and her professional experience.