Lad’s services arrive in La Clusaz

Lad's Services La Clusaz, Aravis mountains, French AlpsOkay, I know this is just an unfortunate translation, but it made me giggle, wondering exactly what lads’ services the occupants of this car were offering. For non-Brits, ‘lads’ is a bit of a stereotype of those guys you see on bucks nights/stag nights/bachelor parties doing things that only they find amusing. Thankfully, La Clusaz isn’t a lad hotspot, and I’ve no idea where the name for this business came from. The services offered actually include rental property management, cleaning and taxi service.

In the same vein, French speakers can snicker when they go to England and see the restaurant chain Zizzi because in French a ‘zizi‘ is a little boy’s term for their private parts. That’s right: Brits are eating in a restaurant that roughly translates to ‘willy‘.

Of course, there are plenty in English alone, with my fellow Australians calling those things you wear on your feet ‘thongs’ (which in Britain is a skimpy type of underwear, while the footwear is called a ‘flip-flop’), and the things you wear in winter to keep your legs warm ‘pants’ (which the Brits call ‘trousers’ because ‘pants’ are, again, underwear).

Getting back to French language surprises, an American friend went into a French lingerie shop and said she needed ‘a slip’. In English, that would mean a skirt-like type of underwear. She soon discovered that it’s French for ‘underpants’, and she can only hope that the shopkeeper didn’t think she needed a pair that urgently. Have you stumbled across similar mix-ups?


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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8 comments on “Lad’s services arrive in La Clusaz
  1. Yes “je suis pleine” literal translation of “I am full” after a meal: everyone (French) present giggling… it means “I am pregnant”.

    Other way around telling my Scottish brother-in-law to get a chariot in the supermarket… instead of a trolley, well I call them “Chariots” over here in La Clusaz (-: he was looking for the horse and carts!

  2. Michelle says:

    French people always laugh at the classy takeaway in Bath named “Mega Bite”. Bite in french is another word for zizi!

  3. My favorite is that in French you have to say, “J’arrive” instead of “Je viens” which means to the French that they are literally (well, you know)! That cracks me up!

  4. Wendy says:

    Tracey, are you in La Clusaz? And I do love the chariots thing – it makes shopping more fun.
    Michelle, that’s brilliant! I have a friend called Pip, which the French find quite amusing too.
    Ahsley, the whole venir thing confuses me in the first place so I quite like that arrive takes its place sometimes. 🙂

  5. Michelle says:

    haha! There are some funny ones in Swedish too.

    There is a Swedish chocolate bar called ‘Plopp’ which just seems wrong somehow.
    Bra in Swedish is good in English
    Sluta is stop
    Master Kock is Master Chef

  6. Wendy says:

    Oh Michelle, I tried Plopp and wrote about it too! Sluta is my favourite. I also know pulca (sledge?) and egelcourt (hedgehog) but I have no idea how to spell them. Bra in French means arms but we have no equivalent for Master Kock – that’s brilliant. 😀

  7. Nick says:

    Many years ago, as a newly arrived Brit living in Hamburg in Germany, I sat in my car for twenty minutes studying my phrase book and dictionary and then strode confidently into a restaurant and ordered ‘ein Kaninchen Kaffee und Kuchen mit Zähnen’. What I meant was: ‘ein Kännchen Kaffee und Kuchen mit sahne’. The waitress struggled to keep a straight face as she dutifully took my order, then rushed to the kitchen, from where I heard peels of hysterical laughter as she relayed the order to the cooking staff.

    Back in my car, I checked over my translation and realised that instead of ordering a pot of coffee and cream cakes, I had asked for a Rabbit of Coffee and Cakes with Teeth 🙂

  8. Wendy says:

    Oh that’s fantastic, Nick! Don’t you love that look when someone is processing what you said into what you meant to say and trying not to laugh? Time like that I wish I could hold a conversation as easily in English to laugh about it together.

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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