French Lessons: Déjeuner

by Jackie D on February 24, 2017

The French word for lunch is déjeuner. This word is both noun and verb. You can say that you have lunch (je prends le déjeuner) but you can also just say I lunch (je déjeune), which is the way most French people phrase it.

I guess this is the same in English, but it seems more common to hear “I had lunch” over “I lunched.”

In English, lunch is more noun than verb. Lunch is the thing on your plate. In French, it is the opposite: lunch is the whole action, it is the eating and drinking and talking and enjoying and everything all at once. It’s leaving your work at your desk and actually sitting at a restaurant. It’s getting a coffee and (for many) having a cigarette after the meal. Lunch is something you do, not just something you consume.

It’s not just a difference in part of speech; it’s a difference in lifestyle. I lunch, you lunch, we all lunch (je déjeune, vous déjeunez, nous déjeunons).

I’m still working on this — sometimes my American guilt still makes me feel like I should be at my desk with a sandwich while answering emails — but I’ve definitely mastered the breakfast portion of France life. French people don’t seem to be big on breakfast, but when they do eat it, they fully embrace pastries over savory foods, and I’ve had absolutely zero problems adapting to this.

Breakfast is also a sort of communal affair at the office — people will find any reason to bring a bag of pastries to share with everyone: a birthday, an anniversary, Tuesday, existence. An email goes out to everyone letting us know where we can find the pastries, and then for the next hour you’ll hear people delightedly munching on croissants at their desks, and it puts everyone in the best mood for the rest of the day. It’s so generous and lovely. I plan to bring a little treat of my own once I receive my permanent visa! In the meantime, I will be taste-testing as many different pains au chocolat as possible, for science.

More French Lessons:
Bad Days
How Much

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