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19 inspirational French sayings and quotes that will boost your motivation

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Learning a language goes beyond learning grammar rules and vocabulary. When speaking, native speakers often use imagery structures like idioms, quotes, and proverbs. As a French learner, it is worth learning these sayings so that you might not remain speechless because you simply don’t understand.

Some people may say that using proverbs is a little bit old school but don’t get misled. They are phrases or sentences with great meaning, sometimes full of wisdom and they can easily be slipped into conversations.

Using them at the right place and moment shows a certain language mastery.

Today, you’ll discover 19 popular and inspirational French sayings and quotes, that are conveying positive messages. I hope they will be enough useful to boost your motivation to learn French and your daily life.

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1. Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

Better prevent than to cure/heal. => This saying refers to health and is used to say that one must be cautious and take the dispositions necessary to avoid facing later consequences of one’s acts.

2. Ce n’est pas la mer à boire

It’s not the sea to drink. => It simply means it’s not something difficult.

Example : Apprendre le français, ce n’est pas la mer à boire si tu t’exerces régulièrement. => Learning French is not so difficult if you practice regularly.

3. Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid

Little by little the bird makes his nest. => This idiom means that great achievements are made of small success. Progress doesn’t come overnight but step by step. Another synonym is “les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières” => Little streams make big rivers.

4. Qui ne risque rien n’a rien

Who doesn’t risk anything can’t get anything. =>That means that you can’t get anything if you don’t make a minimum of sacrifices. A synonym of this expression is “On ne fait pas d’omelette sans casser des œufs » => One can’t make omelet without breaking eggs.

5. Après la pluie, le beau temps

After rain, the nice weather. => That means that good times can come after hard times.

This is one of my favorite proverbs as it is very positive in itself. It’s a good way of encouraging a person that even if he is facing difficult times, the best moments are just ahead. Just remain optimistic.

6. Ce que femme veut, Dieu le veut

What women want, God wants it. => A woman can obtain anything if she really wants it. The equivalent expression in English is “a woman’s will is God’s will”.

7. Vouloir c’est pouvoir

To want is to be able. => When you want something, you get the strength and power to do it. The equivalent expression in English is “when there is a will there is a way”.

8. Mieux vaut tard que jamais

Better late than never. => It means it is never late to do something good. It’s better to do something late than never doing it.

9. C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron

It’s by forging that we become a blacksmith. => Practice makes perfect.

10. Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera

Help yourself and heaven will help you. => Heaven helps those who help themselves.

Now that you know at least 10 of these popular French sayings, we’ll dive into famous quotes that will also inspire you and give you the motivation to act positively. Each quote is given with its author and English translation.

11. "La vie, c'est comme une bicyclette, il faut avancer pour ne pas perdre l'équilibre" Albert Einstein

“Life is like a bicycle; we must move forward in order not to loose our balance.”

12. "Exige beaucoup de toi-même et attends peu des autres. Ainsi beaucoup d’ennuis te seront épargnés" / Confucius

Be demanding about yourself and expect less from other people. Thus, you’ll be spared from lots of problems.

13. "Quand on ne peut revenir en arrière, on ne doit se préoccuper que de la meilleure façon d’aller de l’avant" / Paulo Coelho

When one can’t step back, one should focus on the best way to move forward.

14. "Une difficulté n’en est plus une, à partir du moment où vous en souriez, où vous l’affrontez". / Robert Baden-Powell

A difficulty is no more one from the moment you smile at it or face it .

15.“Il n’y a qu’une chose qui puisse rendre un rêve impossible, c’est la peur d’échouer.” / Paulo Coelho

There is only one thing that can make a dream impossible, the fear to fail.

16. "Le succès, c’est d’aller d’échec en échec sans perdre son enthousiasme” / Winston Churchill

Success is going from failure to failure without loosing one's enthusiasm.

17. "Il y a des fleurs partout pour qui veut bien les voir" / Henri Matisse

There are flowers everywhere for who wants to see them.

18. "L’homme le plus heureux est celui qui fait le bonheur d’un plus grand nombre d’autres" / Denis Diderot

The happiest man is the one who makes the happiness of many others.

19. Vivez comme si vous deviez mourir demain, apprenez comme si vous deviez vivre toujours / Bouddha

Live as if you should die tomorrow, and learn as is you should live forever.

To sum up

We have come to the end of the selection of proverbs and quotes I've made for you. These powerful and positive sayings and quotes are useful phrases and sentences that can be used in your daily conversations.

From now on, don’t miss any opportunity to use them to impress people around you. And keep learning to perfect your French as we’ve seen earlier “ C’est en forgeant qu’on devient forgeron”. À bon entendeur, salut!

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