FRENCH LESSONS: tomber dans les pommes

For a long time I’ve questioned how the French survive without drinking much water. It still remains a mystery to me, and part of me thinks it must be genetic. I’m just a naturally thirsty American, and staying hydrated is how I beat fatigue (and jetlag). At the pool I’m almost always the only one with a water bottle, and if I know I’m going to a brunch at French friend’s place I always pre-hydrate because water is just not part of the culture. The other day I was in an accounting class and it was so hot. I – the only person with a water bottle – almost tombé dans les pommes [fall in the apples = to faint]. While learning accounting en français is a reason to faint, really this time it was the heat. And for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how everyone else was wearing sweaters and not dying of heat/thirst too.

p.s. Thanks for all who have signed up for my map making class! It’s such an honor to have so many familiar faces from the web joining in the fun. YAY!

French Lessons is an ongoing series where I teach you French words and cultural lessons while beefing up my Illustrator skills.


  • Ha! I just moved to France, and one of the first things I noticed was how I am perpetually thirstier than everyone around me. And the glasses are so stinkin’ tiny. Love the expression! Now I can express my thirstiness in a more dramatic way. ;)

    • Yes, the glasses are SO tiny. I always ask for 1-2 “carafe d’eau” when I go to restaurants. “J’ai besoin du l’eau, sinon je vais tomber dans les pommes!!!!” :)

  • Oooopss… Maybe you need to look around a little bit more. It seems the French drink plenty of water, just not always tap water…
    PS: I always ask for a glass of water with my shot of espresso here in the US or with my express in Paris. I always get both with a smile. The difference is – quelle surprise! – I get a small size (ie European size) glass in France, and a trough-size plastic goblet in the US… :-)
    Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    • Veronique, I agree that they are more likely to buy litre bottles than Americans, but any time/meal I’ve ever spent with French people, I never see them drink water, and if they do it’s very small quantities. And this is based on years of observation in the field. I’m convinced they get their water intake from their wine ;)

  • I used to do a commonly used phrases with my FSL students – it was their favourite part of the class! I, however, had never heard of ‘tomber dans les pommes’before and that certainly would have been useful on a few trips to the doctor in Gabon ;)

    • ha, Jay! The expressions are so great, and many you’d never think to ask. I did a grad school project in 2006 all about French food idioms. Trying to bring many of them to life again.

    • I know! I feel like I drink water all the time here and still can’t stay hydrated… Then there is always the challenge of finding public bathrooms if you are hydrated ;)

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