A big thank you to our teachers Alessandra and Line for their valuable contributions to this article!
If you stop to think about it for a minute, I’m sure you’ll remember one or two French jokes?
For example, this one:
Why do French people eat snails? – Because they don’t like fast food.
No? Well, what about this one?
–What do French fries do when they run into each other?
Do you know what’s funnier than jokes about France, though? Native French jokes!
The French language can be a bit intimidating when you first start learning it. While our own prejudice about France being all grand and ceremonious is partly to blame, boring textbooks filled with serious topics don’t help much either. Learning French jokes is a nice way of getting in touch with the silly side of the French language and overcoming our preconceptions about its formality.
We all know that, no matter how good a joke is, an awful delivery can kill even the best of punchlines. If you want to delight people with French jokes, you will need to both memorise them, and tell them fluently with the right intonation. Though this might take a little practice, learning how to effectively tell French jokes is a fun, purposeful way of learning big chunks of the French language.
Il était une fois deux pommes de terre. L'une a été écrasée et l'autre s'est exclamée "Oh purée!"
There once were two potatoes. One of them was run over and the other one exclaimed “Oh purée!”
What you need to know to understand this joke: In French, the word purée has two meanings. On the one hand, exclaiming “Oh purée” is like saying “Oh my goodness!”. It’s an expression that people use to express shock. However, if you’re talking about food, “purée” also means mashed potatoes. Clever pun, huh?
-Quelles sont les lettres les plus anciennes de l'alphabet?
-C’est évident: A, G
-What are the oldest letters in the alphabet?
-That’s obvious: A, G.
The second entry in our list proves that French jokes have a lot to teach us about the French language. Spoken in good French, the letters “A, G” sound exactly like the word “âgé” which literally means “aged.” Do you see why these letters just have to be the oldest in the French ABC?
Deux traducteurs sont à bord d'un navire. L'un d'eux demande : “Savez-vous nager?” Et l'autre répond : “Non. Mais je peux crier ‘Au secours’ en huit langues’
Two translators are aboard a ship. One of them asks: “Do you know how to swim?” And the other one responds: “No. But I can scream “help” in eight languages”.
One of our favourite French jokes about words, this joke is a brilliant way to break the ice when talking to other language lovers. It’s also a good way to get familiar with a very useful word in the French language: Help! (Au secours). Although we hope you won’t have to use it very often, we do insist that you learn it before you book your flight! Just in case, you know.
Mère Citron regarda sagement ses enfants et dit: “Si tu veux vivre longtemps, il faut éviter d'être pressé!”
Mother lemon looked wisely at her children and said: “If you want to live for a long time, you must avoid being pressed!”
Another example of how French people love a good pun, this is one of the most wholesome, family-friendly French jokes out there. What do you need to know to get this one? First, that to être pressé means to be in a rush or pressed for time. However, as you can imagine, this verb also means “to be squashed” when talking about lemons (or other fruits!). Can you see why lemons should avoid being ‘pressed’ if they want to have a long life?
Un cambrioleur s'échappe par la fenêtre d'un appartement du vingtième étage, quand son pied glisse soudainement et il tombe.
Plus tard, le policier dit : “C'était son dernier vol”.
A burglar is escaping through the window of a flat on the twentieth floor when his foot suddenly slips and he falls down.
Later, the police officer says: “That was his last flight.”
Another French joke based on a bit of wordplay, this story makes clever use of the ambiguity of the word “vol”, which means both “theft” and “flight”. In the context of the joke, the word perfectly stands for both. While the robber’s fate is both tragic and humorous, this joke is also a reminder that French puns can teach you a lot about words with double meaning.
Si M. et Mme Ouzi avaient un fils, quel serait son nom?
If Mr and Mrs Ouzi had a son, what would be his name?
All you need to get this one is one word:
“Toto” is a naughty, lazy child who’s constantly getting in trouble both at school and at home. Most Toto jokes in French revolve around family life, homework, and talking back to elders. They have been part of the French language and culture for decades and they serve both as jokes and short lessons on good behaviour.
Below, you will find the best Toto jokes in French that you can teach your kids, but before you continue, make sure you check our list of addictive French films you can stream right now.
Les parents de Toto sont inquiets car ils n'ont pas encore reçu le bulletin scolaire de son fils. La mère de Toto va dans sa chambre et lui demande :
–Pourquoi ton bulletin n'est pas encore arrivé ?
–Oh, oui, répond Toto, mais je l'ai prêté à Pierre pour qu'il fasse peur à sa maman avec!
Toto’s parents are worried as they haven’t received his son’s report card yet. Toto’s mother goes to his bedroom and asks him:
“Why hasn’t your school report come in yet?”
“Oh, it has,” replies Toto, “but I have lent it to Pierre so he can scare his mom with it!”
Toto demande à son professeur s'il peut aller aux toilettes. Comme le cours vient de commencer, elle dit “Non”. Quelques minutes plus tard, elle demande à Toto : “Où est le plus grand fleuve d'Europe?”
“Sous ma chaise”, répond-il.
Toto asks his teacher if he can go to the toilet. Since the class has just started, she says “No”. A few minutes later, she asks Toto, “Where is the largest river in Europe?”
“Under my chair,” he answers.
Though this joke may serve as an example of Toto’s stereotypical naughtiness, it can also be argued that the accident was the teacher’s fault for not believing a child that he needed to go to the toilet, right? It seems that Toto jokes in French can also provide food for thought.
Le maîtresse dit à Toto :
- Toto, donne-moi deux pronoms.
- Qui? Moi?
The teacher says to Toto:
- Toto, give me two pronouns.
- Who? Me?
- Well done!
Another lesson to be learned from Toto jokes: Even messy schoolboys can get it right sometimes!
Note: be careful with the word maîtresse, which can mean “teacher” or “female lover” depending on the context. (Yes, the French language is full of words with double meanings!)
Le maîtresse regarde Toto et demande: Quel est l'avenir de ”Je bâille”?
The teacher looks at Toto and asks: What is the future of “I yawn”?
- “I sleep!”
Rather than relying on wordplay, this joke makes good use of the ambiguity of the concept of future, which can be both linguistic and non-linguistic. It’s also a nice way to practise simple verbs such as “yawn” and “sleep”.
Want to learn more Toto jokes in French from actual French speakers? Explore our tailor-made courses! We’ll make sure you get a teacher who’s not only fully qualified but also has a great sense of humour.