Why it’s Better to Be in New York than France When it Snows

A close up of a stuffed toy in the snow

1. There’s no word for “slush” in French

“Mud with melted snow and salt mixed in that attacks leather shoes” is too long. And when you pronounce it in French you barely hear it; it’s like the sound of a shoe sinking in slush.

2. French schools need 77 words to say “snow day”


“Dear Parents,
How Paris is beautiful in the snow! For those who could make the journey, what fun for the kids to have snowball fights in the hallways at school.
For now, school will be open tomorrow, but if conditions get worse, and if you have trouble with transportation, don’t worry if you can’t make it in.
Check your email. We’ll keep informed of an eventual school closing.
Be safe!
The school staff”

Note that in France, snow days are announced after the snow has already happened, not in advance.


“In French, we don’t say ‘snow day’ we say ‘f**k, there’s traffic everywhere, DRIVE, IDIOT, DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE OR WHAT, f**k but some of us are working, you moron, go, s**t, well bravo, it’s red now, are you happy, a**hole?’ and I think that’s beautiful.”

“Here in Maryland, schools send a text to parents’ phones around 5am to alert them of school closings… I believe that in France parents are called to come pick their kids up in the afternoon.”

3. In Paris, parks close when it snows


4. But it’s no big deal, you can still play on the sidewalks which definitely haven’t be shoveled

“Snow (n.f.): a vicious meteorological element that can paralyze the entire road system in all of France with just 0.2mm on the ground.”


“Parisians were miffed at the lack of preparation, but the government was quick to get real with people about the science of snow removal,” The Washington Post explained. It feels like a bit of a joke when the government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux says “it’s impossible to predict the weather accurately.” (In the words of The Washington Post, “we obviously disagree with that last sentiment.”)

Obviously, it’s legitimate to wonder if it’s worth investing in equipment for an event that only happens every five years when you could just stay at home until it’s over. “You’d have to buy a lot of materials that you’d only use once every three years. When you’re in Canada, it snows 60 centimeters and everyone is still out and about because they’ve invested billions and billions,” said Gérard Collomb, former mayor of Lyon, the capital of traffic jams on the main thoroughfare to popular skiing destinations. In terms of actual budgets, in New York City the annual clearance budget is $88 million for 689 salt trucks and 1,600 trucks that can be converted into snowplows.

5. How are you supposed to clear snow when Parisians don’t have snow shovels (and don’t have a word for “shovel”)?

pelle vs shovel

People clear snow with brooms, rakes…


Pieces of wood…

“In the USA the snow didn’t block anything because:
Americans were equipped with salt, shovels, motorized snow removal machines for sidewalks, the city has snowplow trucks…
Who’s willing to pay for 1 snow day every 5 years?”

6. French children think you need ice cream scoops to make snowballs

snow 27. French snowmen don’t get fat

American snowman:


French snowman:


A close up of a sign


Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Read more

Frenchly newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly’s news.

Frenchly Newsletter.

A close up of a sign

Get your weekly dose of Frenchly stuff.