Humor of French Shrugs

Humor of French Shrugs is from a book by humorist Bill Bryson titled ‘Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe’ page 65.

This excerpt is about 'translating' a French Shrug used to communicate something to him during a trip to France.


In my best schoolboy French, I asked how one gets to Barvaux when one is SANS AUTO.

I braced for the lady to put a dead beaver on the counter, (See Humor Buying French Bread) but she just said, “À pied, monsieur,”

and gave me one of those impassive Gallic shrugs – the kind where the chin is dropped to belt level and the ears are pushed to the top of the head with the shoulders.

You have to be Gallic to do this.

It translates roughly as

“Life is a bucket of shit, monsieur, I quite agree, and while I am prepared to acknowledge this fact, I shall offer you no sympathy because, monsieur, this is your bucket of shit.”


Humor Buying French Bread, by Bill Bryson.

Humor of Movie Dubbing in French, by Bill Bryson.

Return to Humor of Language Learners.


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