15 Cool French Proverbs

À cheval donné on ne regarde pas les dents (French) / la bride (Canadian).
  • Translation: At a given horse one doesn't look at the teeth 
  • English equivalent: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

À l'œuvre, on connaît l'artisan.


Mieux vaut tenir que courir.

  • Translation: Better take than run.
  • English equivalent: A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.
  • Meaning: "Something you have for certain now is of more value than something better you may get, especially if you risk losing what you have in order to get it."

Mieux vaut faire que dire.

  • Literal translation: Better to do than to say.
  • Idiomatic translation: Actions speak louder than words / Well done is better than well said.

La nuit porte conseil.

  • Translation 1: Take advice of your pillow.
  • Translation 2: Sleep on it.

Nature passe nourriture, et nourriture survainc nature.

  • Idiomatic translation: Nature is beyond all teaching.

Sans tentation, il n'y a point de victoire.

  • Translation: Where there is no temptation there is no glory.
  • English equivalent: Without temptation there is no victory.

Vouloir, c'est pouvoir.

  • Idiomatic translation: Where there's a will there's a way.
  • Literal meaning: To want to is to be able to.

Pour un de perdu, deux de retrouvés.

  • Idiomatic translation: When one door closes another opens.
  • Meaning: When your life seems to be changing, it is better to adapt to the changes rather than be stubborn.

Quand on dîne avec le diable, il faut se munir d'une longue cuiller

  • Translation: If you are going to eat with the devil, you must have a long spoon.
  • Meaning: Someone who treats others badly will eventually turn on you.

Après la pluie le beau temps.

  • Translation: Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Meaning: After the rain, the nice weather."

A longue corde tire qui d'autruy mort desire

  • Hee that longs for another mans death, hath a long (or a cold) suit of it; We say, he that waits for dead mens soon shall go long barefoot.

Revenons à nos moutons.

  • Translation: “Let us get back to our sheep. 
  • Let’s get back to what we were saying/ doing.

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Il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences.

  • Translation: One must not trust appearances.
  • Things are not always as they look like.

La parole est d'argent, mais le silence est d'or.

  • Idiomatic translation: Speech is silver, Silence is golden.Literal meaning: Talk is silver, silence is golden.
Loin des yeux, loin du cœur.
  • Idiomatic translation: Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Literal translation: Far from the eyes, far from the heart


Les plaisanteries les plus courtes sont les meilleures.

  • Idiomatic translation: Brevity is the soul of wit.
  • Literal meaning: The shortest jokes are the best ones.