La flemme

la flemme

This is me. Actually it is not me but our cat, Léo, lolling around after a night on the town. But it is how I feel. J’ai la flemme.

‘La flemme’ is when you feel lazy. When your bed beckons well after the time you should have left it. Or the TV remote tantalizes you from across the room. It’s when you just can’t be bothered to do something, no matter how much you know you should.

To have la flemme is very French. Not that the French are lazy, pas du tout. It’s just that they alternate periods of extreme activity with moments of pure paresse. Relaxation, holidays or just lounging around. It’s what saves their sanity.

I am this way by nature, and living in France for so long has certainly made it worse. Most days I get up and kick myself in the butt, have a military approach to sticking to schedules and deadlines all in order to avoid the encroaching flemme that wants to take over and subvert me into a life of sloth.

Perhaps it is fitting that I write of low energy and a lack of motivation today. It is the last day of November, a month that always makes me feel like death. December 1st will bring the promise of pristine slopes, the year-end holidays and a new start in 2018.

So just for today, like the cat, I’ll stretch out and enjoy a few moments of blissful laziness.

Do you ever give in to la flemme?


  1. Osyth · November 30, 2017

    What a kitty!!! I’m a fits and starts nature which suits here very well. However, I am also English with that horrendous sense of duty, ingested at birth and I get terribly agitated about the things I have to do and commitments I have to fulfill and always feel overwhelming catholic guilt if I step away from whatever in favour of just lounging. I, too, find November a difficult month …. roll on December which starts tomorrow with a quick visit from a daughter (in turn meaning that I am now unable to give into La Flemme as I so hugely desire but feel I have to have everything in order for the arrival. She won’t notice a single thread of this order, but I do so it must be done. Enjoy your relax …. you’ve earned it. Of course you have 😉

    • MELewis · November 30, 2017

      Oh, I do know something about that Catholic guilt! Although not English, many of the values were inculcated from a tender age so when duty calls… How lovely to start the pre-holiday run with a visit from your daughter! Another point we have in common: running around like a headless chicken to ensure everything is just so when the invitee could not care less. Enjoy her visit and there’ll be time to relax later! xx

      • Osyth · November 30, 2017

        I have her tomorrow (with husband) til Sunday and the youngest arrives first thing on Sunday morning. We are all hitting Lyon which will probably be asleep and I must book somewhere for lunch – I think it will be Brasserie Georges which a kind and rather lovely lady I know recommended a little while ago 😉 xx

  2. francetaste · November 30, 2017

    I get the feeling that la flemme is a special breed of laziness. As you say, lack of motivation is required. It’s different from the kind of laziness that involves burying oneself in a good book all afternoon on a Sunday. Certain lazy activities (what a contradiction of terms!), such as lounging by a pool and flipping through magazines, imply a kind of zest or enjoyment, but la flemme is flatness, almost depression, a loss of zest for life or appetite for activity.
    Life has ups and downs. Without the downs, we wouldn’t appreciate the highs.
    Your holiday plans sound lovely!

    • MELewis · November 30, 2017

      You have perfectly captured the nuance of la flemme! Agree it is very different from positively lazing around and enjoying it. Much more of a depressed-like state for me, which coincides with this horrible month! Thanks for reminding me that the downs are part of it – even when you think you know this, it is important to remember that this too will pass. As for the holidays, my plans are actually a little different – more to come later! 🙂

  3. phildange · November 30, 2017

    La flemme est la femme sans ailes 😜

  4. poshbirdy · November 30, 2017

    What a great expression. Unfortunately it will probably be more useful than I’d like to admit and I am struggling with the pronunciation of it, rather than the concept!
    So, at the risk of sounding very silly, is it pronounced ’em’ or does it rhyme with femme?

    • MELewis · November 30, 2017

      Good question! It never occurred to me as I heard the word before I ever saw it written and in fact was surprised at the spelling. It rhymes with ‘hem’ in English. Enjoy it!

  5. coteetcampagne · November 30, 2017

    So that’s what I have sometimes, is it on a par with being deemed a “slug-a-bed”?
    That is the term my mother (an early riser) would use when I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed. Usually followed by energetically yanked back curtains and a faux-cheery “rise and SHINE!!!”

    • MELewis · November 30, 2017

      Never heard that one before — lay a bed but not slug – which is actually perfect the way you feel nested in the warm sheets! FranceTaste’s description of the meaning is perfect – it really is closer to a depressed kind of lazy than a luxurious lounging.

  6. Chez @ Chez Moi · November 30, 2017

    I suspect that I am French! Mad activity interspersed with brief periods of extreme laziness sums up my life pretty well! Happy December to you 😊

    • MELewis · December 1, 2017

      Merci! Definitely some French methinks….

  7. Colin Bisset · November 30, 2017

    I used to be so much better at it. Maybe it’s an ageing thing – can’t sit around here all day, my anxious brain whispers in my ear. Never a problem when I was younger… Can one say bonne flemme?

    • MELewis · December 1, 2017

      I’ll happily accept the wish – although I suspect if you say it to any French natives you’ll get that look (those English – what on earth–?)

    • phildange · December 1, 2017

      No, this is never said . The resulting “action” can be : Bonne sieste, bon lézardage, bonne glande (from glander), etc …

      • Colin Bisset · December 1, 2017

        I was being flippant but thank you…

  8. Victoria Blake · December 1, 2017

    Oh I’ve been giving in recently – a vile cold that’s been keeping me up at nights has made the afternoons filled with la flemme and phlegm!

    • MELewis · December 3, 2017

      Always wondered if there was some sort of link in meaning between those two words but as far as I can see they are just homonyms. Hope your cold dries up quickly!

  9. Lisa @ cheergerm · December 5, 2017

    Ah, now I know what to call it! Love this, I am either flat out busy or flat out doing nothing. Now I can name the malaise that will come upon me and feel very French. Hope your December brings good things.

    • MELewis · December 5, 2017

      Thank you Lisa and wishing you much of the same. Glad to give you a chic word for what sounds like healthy and well-earned indulgence!

  10. broadsideblog · December 14, 2017

    Tout a fait! Spent several hours yesterday morning under the duvet reading.

    • MELewis · December 14, 2017

      A worthy occupation! It’s funny, like you I’m self-employed and most often work from home. At first I never gave in to this sort of indulgence during work hours but I’ve learned that it’s better to occasionally recharge this way than to fight to keep butt in chair when my energy is just not there.

      • broadsideblog · December 15, 2017

        Exactly. If you want a slave-driver boss, you can always go find one…:-)

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