French superstitions

The strangest French superstitions – and how to avoid them

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Bon chance! Luckily there is plenty of dog poop to step on in France – according to the French superstition, it can bring good luck.

If you need a boost of good luck, there are plenty of ways you can find it in Franceunless you unknowingly break a French superstition, then you'd better make sure you take action to reverse the curse.

1. Doggie doo

It’s not hard to understand why this belief became so popular – have you ever walked the streets of any French city without stepping in dog poop? If yes, spread the word; French president François Hollande would gladly pin the Légion d’honneur on your lapel.

Here's how the superstition goes: if you step in dog poop with your right foot, you’re doomed to live a life of despair, but if you step in it with your left foot, it will bring you good luck, albeit you’ll still have to clean that turd-covered shoe of yours.

2. Bread manners

Don’t you dare put a baguette/loaf upside down on the kitchen table! First it’s awkward because the bread is wobbly. Second, it means you’ve got a touch of the evil eye in your home. I’ve done it in front of my mother to check if she would correct me and she did every single time before telling me to pay better attention.

If you happen to do it and want to erase the curse, you need to draw a cross with your knife on the flat side of the baguette/loaf before cutting it. It’s a bit of a complicated affair but you don’t want to take a chance, do you?

3. Lucky pompom

The red pompom sitting on top of French sailors’ hats (bachi) is said to have incredible powers. To touch it would guarantee a boat-load of good luck. The logistics of touching a sailor’s pompom might be a bit tricky but nothing should get in the way of eternal luck – so go out there and climb a sailor.

French superstitions: Touch a sailor's hat

4. Umbrellas’ disastrous powers

Opening an umbrella in a house is not only pointless, it will also bring you bad luck. It sure won’t prove lucky to those standing around you since the chances of poking someone in the eye with one of the pointy bits are pretty high.

5. Dinner table

The last supper had a serious influence on French people. Now they freak out at the thought of having 13 people around the table for fear of the youngest person present to die prematurely.

Either you kick one guest out or invite one more, as long as nobody ends up getting the same treatment as Jesus.

6. Knives

If you decide to give a knife to a friend, partner or family member as a present, you take the risk to symbolically cut all the links of friendship and love between you and them.

So as not to terminate your relationship with this person, they must in return give you a small amount of money for the present, making it transaction rather than a gift-giving situation. If you’re broke but can’t escape a gift-giving frenzy, buy a bunch of knives.

What French superstitions have you come across?


Morgane CroissantReprinted with permission of Matador Network.

Morgane Croissant Morgane was born and raised in France, and is a lead producer and contributing editor for Matador Network. She enjoys reading fiction and drinking coffee (activities that usually take place simultaneously). She is also a passionate environmentalist and a staunch feminist.

Photo credits: Seurot Franck/Site internet de la Marine nationale français via Wikimedia Commons (French sailor), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (thumbnail).

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2 Comments To This Article

  • Ameline posted:

    on 27th February 2016, 00:25:22 - Reply

    Ces superstitions etaient employes du temps de nos arriere grands-parents et dans les campagnes!
    Elles ne sont plus de cours et encore moins dans les villes francaises. On est pas reste au XIX eme siecle! ne prenez pas les Francais pour des arrieres!

    [Google translation: These superstitions were employed back in the time of our grandparents and in the country! They are no longer lessons and even less in the French cities. It is not the XIX century! do not take the Frenchman for backward!]

  • Gill posted:

    on 27th January 2016, 14:24:16 - Reply

    All these superstitions are remarkably similar to ones found in the UK.