le soleil liquide
pourboire: How to say tip in French

plein d'entrain

Peek-a-boo (c) Kristin Espinasse

Fall colors in France's 3rd largest city, Lyon, where our croisière fluviale docked on the last day of the AMA Waterways river cruise. If you dream of traveling the French canals, please do me a favor by contacting my best friend, Susan, for details of our Rhône river trip. Her email is Susan@CriticsChoiceVacations.com or call her at 480-831-9076.

Today's word: plein d'entrain
In the category of French words I often hear but have no confidence using, comes the expression "avec entrain" or pleine d'entrain. A French relative used it, just yesterday, on seeing a photo posted near the end of this post. Amarie writes:

Merci pour cette belle photo pleine d'entrain. Thanks for this lovely, spirited photo.

Audio File: listen to Amarie's sentence, above, as Jean-Marc reads it: Download MP3 or Wav file


Definition: There are other ways to translate the "plein d'entrain" phrase. According to forum members over at WordReference, and to Reverso.net, here are some more possibilites:

  • bubbly
  • cheerful
  • lively 
  • vivacious
  • zippy
  • zestful
  • full of get-up-and-go
  • (help add more definitions of "entrain", via the comments box. Thanks in advance)

    Are you beginning to love this word as much as I am? Are you now feeling reckless enough to use it in conversation? Why not practice here in the comments box? Some more example sentences would be helpful.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Even though I was on a vacation retreat with a very close and trusted friend, it took a whole day to begin to relax and to leave all soucis behind. Though I no longer needed to think about nagging issues back home, there were new subjects to obsess about, even on a relaxing river cruise. One concern that came up (after who gets the bed closest to the bathroom? (the nervous half of our duo won out))—was tipping.

The French should write a book about pourboires; instead they prefer the subject keep its air of mystery, just like the seductive citoyens. Ask any Frenchman "How much should I tip?" and he'll say what every native says: "In France, tipping is not obligatoire. ...However, if you enjoyed the service you can show your appreciation by leaving whatever amount with which you are comfortable."  

Twenty years in France and I am still uncomfortable about tipping. I would not want to slight a bellhop because of my ignorance. And did I know whether to tip the bus driver?—when it seemed the tour guide got all the pourboires? Thankfully, my best friend and traveling partner, Susan, had sent me a brochure of our trip, and I had read the section on gratuities. Apparently tipping would take place at the end of the trip, when in one fell swoop we could thank all cruise employees via the those handy envelopes marked "Tips for cruise manager" and "Tips for ship crew". A low-down on how much per day, per entity, was clearly given (for example, 3 Euros per passenger, per day for the Cruise Manager and 12 Euros per passenger, per day for the crew).

As to how much, exactly, to leave the on-shore tour guides, there was a helpful section about how to show appreciation for them, too; it even included a handy tip range (between 1 and 2 euros per guide). That seemed reasonable to me, and it was easy to decide on leaving 2 euros—instead of only 1—at the end of our guided tour of Les Baux de Provence. I even had the necessary change. So why start to sweat and obsess when it came time to hand over the money? 

That story next... 


Thank you for reading. To comment on this post, or to read the comments, click here. I would love to read your notes about travel, including issues such as tipping, taking the tour bus, pit-stops, staying in new and unusual places, and any anecdotes you have to share.

 French Vocabulary

le souci = worry (click here for the "souci" edition)

le pourboire = tip

le citoyen (la citoyenne) = citizen

obligatoire = compulsory, obligatory


Almost time to tip... in Avignon. Get those 2-euro coins ready for the tour guide! Please share your tipping anecdotes here, in the comments box. I'd love to know how you handled tipping while on a guided tour. What about the bus driver? Did you tip him too? On our trip it seems the tour guide got all the pourboires

"Etienne", a boat with character, parked near our cruise ship.

Our group traveled past Chateauneuf du Pape, and I felt a sharp tug to my heart while gliding past the life we left behind, after our move two months ago. Incredibly, the tour bus passed by Uncle Jean-Claude's wine cellar! I actually saw my aunt and uncle perched on the curb, smiling up at our bus.

I stood up and began to wave excitedly from the other side of the bus's tinted windows... but my aunt and uncle did not see me, in spite of their searching eyes. If you are reading, cousin Audrey, I think I saw you too... in one great emotional blur. XOXO.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety