C’est du pipeau


Lies, baloney, bullshit. The French expression ‘C’est du pipeau’ describes the music of a pan pipe and the fake news that some would have us believe.

The rumours that Emmanuel Macron was gay began to circulate earlier this year, just as his presidential campaign was taking off. It was first whispered into my ear by my coiffeur, a normally reliable source of gossip. Marc fancies himself a hairdresser of the Warren Beatty school in the movie Shampoo, so presumably not batting for the other team.

I was shocked. Not that Macron might be France’s first gay president but rather that he was hiding his orientation behind a so-called ‘sham’ marriage.

The media picked up on the rumour that Macron was in a relationship with head of Radio France, Mathieu Gallet. It was continually denied but kept coming back, the way such things do. Presumably the source was political and designed to ‘déstabiliser’ the candidate.

The real-life stories of Emmanuel and Brigitte’s love affair, with their 24-year age gap, seemingly put to rest the gay pipeau. (Read this excellent piece in the New Yorker.)

Politicians are seductive, and Macron is certainly that. The fact that he is young, attractive and speaks fluent English doesn’t hurt. He is also the first French president to have figured out how to manage the media. Or at least keep them on a short leash.

Now Macron’s latest image abroad is that of le séducteur. His ‘saucy Gallic charm’ is immortalized by Tracey Ullman’s Merkel (not the funniest clip in the series but a propos…)

What’s the best ‘pipeau’ you’ve heard lately?


  1. zipfslaw1 · November 16, 2017

    Thanks for this timely post. I just learned “c’est du pipeau” the other day in a zombie apocalypse graphic novel (or “comic book,” to men of my generation). Kid runs into a bizarre cult that thinks that zombies are signs of divine something-or-other. “C’est du pipeau, ton dieu de la mort,” says the kid, if I remember the French correctly.

    I had no clue about the “Pan pipe” origins/image–thanks again! (Also, thanks for the Shampoo trailer–I’ve never seen the movie!)

    • MELewis · November 16, 2017

      How ironic that a man of ‘your generation’ is reading zombie apocalypse graphic novels but never saw ‘Shampoo!’ 😉 Always glad to be a source of information on French slang!

  2. Osyth · November 16, 2017

    I also only just learned this expression and ironically it was at lunch yesterday with two French an American and my husband who is possibly Stateless ( 😉) – you can imagine where the conversation went and c’est du pipeau was liberally smattering it. I don’t know what I believe any more but I did enjoy your post and I did love seeing Tracy strutting her Angela and of course Warren’s hetero chest 😉 x

    • MELewis · November 16, 2017

      Lol! Warren was quite the hunk back in the day, n’est-ce pas? Oddly my Lyon hairdresser does look a bit like him, although that’s obviously not why I go to him! 😉 Glad you were able to put two and two together with the pipeau of your lunch and that of my rambling brain. Isn’t Tracey priceless? Thank god we have not yet fallen into the politically correct world of outre-Atlantique!

      • Osyth · November 16, 2017

        He sure was and a coiffeur that really resembles him might even persuade hairdresser-phobic me through the door 😉

  3. francetaste · November 16, 2017

    There’s a bumper crop of pipeau world-wide at the moment, n’est-ce pas? I think the Macron-is-gay pipeau centers on the fact that he isn’t a knuckle-dragging cave man; any metrosexual is suspect. The idea that he chased Brigitte and wooed her to leave her husband for him so that he could have a cover for homosexuality when he became president decades later–well, that’s ridiculous. For one thing, such a smart and handsome guy would have had no shortage of women willing to wed him; if he’s with Brigitte it’s clearly for love and not desperation. For another thing, he’s young enough that in most places, especially in France, being gay no longer carried the stigma it once did. He has made some mistakes (the crack to the factory worker about working harder to be able to afford better clothes), but he does seem to be intent on making things better.

    • MELewis · November 16, 2017

      I echo all of the above, and his young age was why I found it all the more unbelievable that he would be closeted. The Brigitte story is so wild as to only be true! I think she is a true partner and certainly an excellent advisor who is probably responsible for a lot of his media savvy. And although he’s made a few faux pas, Macron is the first president in recent memory to command the respect and admiration of the office among a majority of French voters. Let’s hope it lasts!

  4. dunnasead.co · November 16, 2017

    What a world we live in today. Instead of so who cares, it’s none of my business how they live (or where I’m from “every pot hs a lid” we have: Strong woman, older woman, overweight woman, business woman, younger man, artistic man, house husband, computer nerd equals… gay marriage? I wonder if du pipeau is the basis for the saying “that gives me the pip?” thanks for the interesting article.

    • MELewis · November 16, 2017

      ‘That gives me the pip’ is one of my all-time favourite expressions learned at my late mother’s knee – love it! I can only agree that the ‘people-ization’ of politics and the media in general is not worthy of us as human beings, and is probably also a tool of manipulation. Glad you enjoyed! 🙂

  5. poshbirdy · November 16, 2017

    As always, very interesting. Macron does speak impeccable English, doesn’t he. And he is doubtless an impressive man. I really struggled with the whole teenager-pursued-a-much-older-woman-and-broke-up-her-family thing when I first heard about it, but I can only assume that it was in fact right for them. The idea that he was living a lie would be too awful to contemplate and he did ‘pip’ Le Pen, which is what really matters. So I wish him well and trust that he can be one politician of value in the dire climate we are currently suffering

    • MELewis · November 16, 2017

      Oh, yes, that debate with Le Pen was brilliant. He ‘pipped’ her well and good by showing her up for a big mouth braggard who knew virtually nothing of her dossiers! (Thanks for that expression which I did not know…)

  6. Mél@nie · November 16, 2017

    Tracey Ullman rules and rocks! 😀 I’ve liked her for decades… ❤

    • MELewis · November 17, 2017

      Feisty, smart, funny….what’s not to like, eh? I love the fact that we can make fun of each other without it getting ugly. 😉

  7. Lisa @ cheergerm · November 19, 2017

    On a shallow note, a refreshing change to see a younger man with an older woman. Interesting that the media and society still question it but maybe one day it won’t be a big deal.

    • MELewis · November 22, 2017

      Yes, it’s interesting how the age gap is the same as with the Trumps but reversed, yet there is virtually no comment made about the American president’s advanced age compared to his wife’s! (Mind you, it’s the least of their problems…) But as someone who is almost 8 years older than her husband, I can only agree it is a non-issue! 😀

  8. weird weekends · November 21, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing this… I have not seen Tracey Ullman for years… and I absolutely love her. I was also not familiar with ‘C’est du pipeau’… I will have to try to surprise my wife with this “new phrase”.

    • MELewis · November 22, 2017

      She wonderful, n’est-ce pas? It actually took me a moment to recognise her, so well does she assume the Chancellor’s persona. Quite the talent! Glad you enjoyed the bit of argo…

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