Caractère de cochon

Caractere de cochonWe walked by this place several times on our recent trip to Paris. I was intrigued, not least by the name. Beyond the clever play on words, it reminded me of how often I had confused the false friends caractère and character when I first learned French.

How upset I was when then-to-be husband told me I had a ‘mauvais caractère’. When I realized this meant a bad temper and not a bad character, I had to admit he had a point.

I’m grateful he didn’t go whole hog as it were and say I had a caractère de cochon, which means the same thing only sounds worse. Why the poor pig is blamed for bad temper is beyond me. Dogs are also lumped in with the ill-tempered boar, with the variant on the expression being caractère de chien.

The fact is I do have a terrible temper and am prone to lose it more often than I should. The wall in the living room of my family’s old house bore the stigmata of that time I kicked my clog (those babies had wooden soles and packed a punch) at my brother and it hit the wall instead. “Don’t irk me!” was my battle cry.

Yoga breathing and mindful meditation, along with (purely medicinal, of course) doses of wine, beer and cognac, have helped me to curb my ill-tempered outbursts in recent years. Despite the ready availability of alcohol I must say that living in France hasn’t helped me learn to keep my temper in check. Niceness just isn’t inbred here the way it is in other cultures.

As for the place, I deeply regretted not having gone in for a bite when I read this review by food blogger David Lebovitz. That sandwich! Le jambon!

I could just kick myself.

What kind of caractère are you?





  1. francetaste · May 26, 2016

    So funny! What’s the term for the opposite–a doormat personality in English?

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      Interesting question and, even more intriguing is that nothing immediately comes to mind. Perhaps that says it all about the French ‘character’. 😉 In a pinch I would say that such a person is ‘soumise’ (submissive).

      • francetaste · May 26, 2016

        OUCH. Well, that’s me.

      • weird weekends · May 27, 2016

        do you think one could use poule mouillée (wet chicken)… I have heard this used for “wimps” or “softies”… could it be used for “doormat”? … it also continues along the animal theme… will have to ask my wife…

      • MELewis · May 29, 2016

        Lol. This is a reply to ‘Weird weekends’ as I can’t seem to do it directly: for me the ‘poule mouillée’ is more like a chicken or scaredy cat in English. Let’s hear what your wife says!

  2. coteetcampagne · May 26, 2016

    I was fairly even tempered until wild hormonal swings due to my” forced’ menopause a while back. That coincided with French hovel purchase so the two have conspired to send me over the two edge pretty regularly!

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      Having lived with the hormonal swings for awhile I can sympathize. Hard enough without adding in major renovation works! 😉

  3. coteetcampagne · May 26, 2016

    Aaarrgghh predictive text!!!

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      Control that temper young lady!!!

      • coteetcampagne · May 26, 2016

        I am trying. Trev would probably say very trying…..

  4. Mél@nie · May 26, 2016

    oui, mais comme on dit par chez nous:”tout est bon dans le cochon…” 🙂
    * * *
    @”What kind of caractère are you?…” – people who have known me for years say I’m strong and solid as a rock… on peut compter sur moi 24/24: 1, 2, 3… 🙂

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      Oui, plutôt bon à manger, mais pas en caractère!!!

      I sense you are very zen, chère Mél@nie… I am still working on it 🙂

  5. Colin Bisset · May 26, 2016

    Niceness isn’t inbred here…Now that little phrase is loaded. More please!

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      Happy to keep ’em coming as long I haven’t offended anybody….I struggle constantly to balance the schizophrenia of Canadian politeness (sorry, sorry…) and French insolence! 🙂

  6. poshbirdy · May 26, 2016

    I’m renowned for being fiery, but much less so these days. I remember an American deal we were working on 20 years ago where the CEO called me his prizefighter because I would push for a little bit more all the time. Nowadays I am much softer and less egdy. I think age has given me tolerance

    • MELewis · May 26, 2016

      And I bet he loved you for it, boxing gloves and all! Still, isn’t it fun to look back and see how age has mellowed us? I still lose it but with less venom than in past years. My current mindset is (relative) zen.

  7. Barbed Words · May 26, 2016

    Mmm. that sandwich looks awesome! I’m a pretty laid back sort of person, thrown in with 15% worry genes – describe that in a nice French phrase!

  8. Osyth · May 26, 2016

    I’m a pussycat, of course 😉

    • MELewis · May 29, 2016

      Bien sûr! And we all know they have fearsome claws! 😉

  9. Multifarious meanderings · May 26, 2016

    I am known as a “good pastry” – une bonne pâte. Apparently it means you have a good character- you’re amenable, pleasant, flexible… just like a good bread dough. It’s also associated with the fact that you dip the pastry in flour before you roll it out, though – ‘to be rolled in the flour’ means that someone’s pulled the wool over your eyes, so there’s a link with being naïve too…
    My friends mistakenly think that I have “flegme Britannique” (British cool, not something you spit out of your throat…) and are happily ignorant of the fact that it disappeared along with Churchill. They didn’t see me when I turned into a three-headed, snarling monster during my exchanges with the UK for my right to vote in the referendum…

    • MELewis · May 29, 2016

      I was not familiar with this expression, although it perfectly describes my husband. As for the 3-headed monster, I am familiar with that! Hope you won and are able to vote! 🙂

  10. zipfslaw1 · June 17, 2016

    Good word, good false friend! I found this on

    caractère de cochon: a bit of a pig, nasty type, a jerk n

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