To many one of the most patriotic phrases that any real Frenchman can say is Vive la France. This phrase is so common that most native-English speakers have heard it at least once if not multiple times.
I think that most people who have heard the phrase are familiar with the fact that it’s an important patriotic phrase to French citizens. However, for most people this is the extent of their knowledge.
Let’s look a little deeper into this phrase and why it’s important as well as how you should use it.
What does vive la france mean?
If you translate it literally Vive la France means “Live France”. When most people translate it into English however they tend to say “Long Live France” which you’ll probably never hear people say in English.
As a whole the French are pretty patriotic people however you can spend quite a bit of time around them before you ever hear them say Vive la France.
This is because it’s mostly used around special holidays and events such as July 14th (Bastille Day) the Olympics or whenever presidential campaigns are going on. It’s also used whenever a horrible event happens and takes on a meaning of resilience and strength.
Vive la République is very often used in tandem with Vive la France (as in Vive la République, Vive la France) however those outside of France will typically only say Vive la France.
A Common Mistake to avoid with vive la france
It’s fairly common for non-French speakers to mistakenly say Vive la France as Viva la France. It’s unsure why exactly this is, but it’s probably due to expressions such as Viva Las Vegas and Viva Mexico, or even just a misinterpretation of Vive la France.
Simply put Viva la France is incorrect and should never be said in conversation. If you speak another romance language such as Italian, Spanish or Portuguese however then you’ll probably be used to using viva as it’s used in all three.
Expressions that are similar to vive la france
Saying Vive + Something isn’t reserved for just La France by any means. There are plenty of other expressions that use this sort of structure.
As you can see from the sentences below you sometimes have to play around with the meaning for it to make sense in English, but if you just think about it for a second you should be able to figure it out without too much difficulty.
Let’s look at just a few examples.
Vive le roi – Long live the king
Vive les Bleus – Long live the French soccer team
Vive le week-end – Hurray for the weekend / Thank god it’s the weekend
Vive les vacances – Hurray for vacation
If you are new to the French language then you can ignore this point, but if you have a bit of experience then you may want to take note here.
You’ll see that in the expressions Vive les Bleus and Vive les Vacances the verb vivre is conjugated as vive as opposed to vivent which is what you would normally write for anything that’s plural. Normally this is true, but when vivre is used in this way it’s always written as vive. You will sometimes see French speakers ignore this and write Vivent les Bleus or Vivent les Vacances, but as long as you personally know the rule you should be okay.
Vive la France is a rather simple expression that, although you probably won’t use very often, is still helpful to know. For more guides on other French vocabulary check out the French vocabulary page.