5 Things America Calls French That Are Not And 5 Things That Are French But You Didn’t Know Were

I have to say that I find it very interesting how in America we put the word “French” in front of certain things that are no more French than whatever else they may not be.  On the other hand, there are other things that are actually French but very seldom will this be told if any.

This post is meant to reset all the clocks right and give to Cesar what belong to Cesar and what’s not to whomever it may belong to.

So, here we start with…

5 Things that are Called French but Actually Not French

French Fries

French Fries

I have to admit that I have no idea why America calls fries “French fries”.

Fries are NOT French, as a matter of fact, but from Belgium.  As a matter of fact, in France we have many jokes about people from Belgium loving their fries.  One of them goes like this, what do Belgians put in their baby bottles?  Des frites! (fries)!   Yep, never in France would you call fries, French fries. I had to come to the US to hear this for the first time.

French Vanilla

French Vanilla (1)

How on earth? As far as I know, France is not known to grow vanilla. Vanilla is NOT called French vanilla in France, by any mean.  If you are reading this and know where this “false appellation” comes from, please, let me know.

Vanilla is vanilla, but it doesn’t come from France originally at all.

French Toasts

French toast (1)

Again what America calls French toast is not called French toast in France. The reason being that it’s not only French per say, but pretty much European and Canadian as well.

What you call French toast is called “pain perdu” in French which means “lost bread”. It’s called this way, because it’s made using stall bread or (lost bread). It’s soaked in beaten eggs and milk and fried.  Spaniards have been making this pain perdu for centuries as well.

Pain perdu was more popular in the old days; however, it’s not very common these days anymore.

French Kiss

French kiss (1)

Now, this is one that I love. French kiss? Meaning other people on this planet didn’t know how to kiss before they saw French kissing?

Again what America calls French kiss is obviously not French, but exists all over the world where humans are found, and even some animals do kiss this way.

I remember seeing a lot of cows when I grew up doing “French kiss”. Oh, yes, there were French cows, but still!

French Doors

French door (1)

Well, here we go again, what people call French doors are not called this way in France. They are called what they are “porte-fenêtre” which translates to “window-door”.

Porte fenêtres are wider and longer windows coming all the way down to the ground and open like doors.  However, these types of windows are also found in Spain and Italy as well, as far as I know, and I’m sure other European countries. I have not found that France is the inventor of this type of door.

It is very obvious when you’ve lived both in France and the US, as I h have, to notice that French people are more “window oriented” so to speak, though. French like to breathe fresh air and open their windows every day in all seasons even if it’s just for a few minutes in the winter time, because they are conscious that it’s very important to renew the oxygen in the house.  This is one of those big differences between America and Europe in general.

5 Things that are Actually French but Not Called Like that

The sewing machine

Sewing Machine (1)

Interestingly, you’ll never hear “the French sewing machine”, and I bet many people in America have no idea that the sewing machine has its origins in France where the first wooden sewing machine was invented by a man named Barthelemy Thimonnier in 1830.


Louis Pasteur (1)

As much as we see the word “pasteurized” on American food, we do not see “French pasteurization”. Well, we could, right? They call it French vanilla and it’s not even French!

Yet, pasteurization sure is French as it was invented by French chemist Louis Pasteur, and such process was called after his own name, thus “pasteurization”. I bet lots of people don’t know this still.

The stethoscope

Stethoscope (1)

The stethoscope used by doctors for both humans and animals to listen to the heart, lungs and other internal body sounds was invented in 1816 by a French man named Rene Laennec.

Yet, we do not call it the French stethoscope.  I guess you’ve got to ask French vanilla the reason why!

The famous song “My Way”

Claude Francois (1)

Now, did you think that the song My Way was an American song sung by Frank Sinatra?  If you did, I am so sorry to tell you that it’s NOT.

My Way is 100% French and was born from two men sitting by a pool in France. Who rewrote the song first written by song writer Jacques Revaux.

One was a song writer named Gilles Thibaut and the other was the co-writer and ever so more popular French singer, Claude Francois (which was my first idol and got to see on stage at age 10).  They wrote the word of the song “Comme d’habitude” (in French) The singer was inspired to write this song after a break up with a lady he loved.

Why My Way came to America?

Song writer Paul Anka who spoke French heard the song “Comme d’Habitude”, the French title of the song, when visiting France, and he thought that it would make a great song for his friend Frank Sinatra.

So, he bought the rights of the song, and in the process changed all the words of the song while keeping only the melody.  In fact, the song “My Way” and its original “Comme d’Habitude”, meaning (As Usual) have nothing in common as far as the meaning of the song goes. You can listen to the original song sung by its original singer and writer down below and read the literal translation.


Braille (1)

Braille, lettering system invented for blind people was invented by a French man named Louis Braille.  Braille is now used worldwide.

This is what Wikipedia says about Louis Braille “He created a revolutionary form of communication that transcended blindness and transformed the lives of millions. After two centuries, the braille system remains an invaluable tool of learning and communication for the blind, and it has been adapted for languages worldwide”.

There are actually a bunch of other things that are French inventions, but I can’t put them all here!

Those French can be smart and talented sometimes, don’t you think?  Now how many of the inventions and creations above did you know where French?

Now, remember, the French fries, French vanilla, French toasts, French kiss, and French doors are not French, but the inventions above are! Go figure!



Here is the literal traduction of the French version. if you know the words of the song My Way, you’ll see that it’s totally different.

Below the song, please, leave your thoughts in the comment area!

[box type=”gray”]

Je me lève

Et je te bouscule

Tu n’te réveilles pas

Comme d’habitude

I get up

And I hustles

You’re not waking up

As usual

Sur toi Je remonte le drap

J’ai peur que tu aies froid

Comme d’habitude

On you

I lay the sheet

I’m afraid you’d be cold

As usual

Ma main

Caresse tes cheveux

Presque malgré moi

Comme d’habitude

My hand

Caresses your hair

Almost like a reflex

As usual

Mais toi

Tu me tournes le dos

Comme d’habitude

But you

You turn your back on me

As usual


Je m’habille très vite

Je sors de la chambre

Comme d’habitude


I dress up fast

I leave the room

As usual

Tout seul

Je bois mon café

Je suis en retard

Comme d’habitude


I drink my coffee

I’m late

As usual

Sans bruit

Je quitte la maison

Tout est gris dehors

Comme d’habitude


I leave the house

It’s dull outside

As usual

J’ai froid

Je relève mon col

Comme d’habitude

I’m cold

I raise my collar

As usual

Comme d’habitude

Toute la journée

Je vais jouer

A faire semblant

Comme d’habitude

Je vais sourire

Comme d’habitude

Je vais même rire

Comme d’habitude

Enfin je vais vivre

Comme d’habitude

As usual

All day long

I will pretend

As usual

I will smile

As usual

I will live

As usual

Et puis

Le jour s’en ira

Moi je reviendrai

Comme d’habitude

And then,

The day will end

And I’ll get back

As usual


Tu seras sortie

Pas encore rentrée

Comme d’habitude


You’ll be gone

And not back yet

As usual

Tout seul

J’irai me coucher

Dans ce grand lit froid

Comme d’habitude


I’ll go lie down

In this big cold bed

As usual

Mes larmes

Je les cacherai

Comme d’habitude

My tears

I will hide them

As usual

Mais comme d’habitude

Même la nuit

Je vais jouer A faire semblant

Comme d’habitude

Tu rentreras

Comme d’habitude

Je t’attendrai

Comme d’habitude

Tu me souriras

Comme d’habitude

But as usual

Even at night

I will pretend

As usual

You’ll get home

As usual

I’ll be waiting for you

As usual

You will simile

As usual

Comme d’habitude

Tu te déshabilleras

Oui comme d’habitude

Tu te coucheras

Oui comme d’habitude

On s’embrassera

Comme d’habitude

As usual

You will undress

Yes, as usual

You’ll get to bed

Yes, as usual

We’ll kiss

As usual

Comme d’habitude

On fera semblant

Comme d’habitude

On fera l’amour

Oui comme d’habitude

On fera semblant

Comme d’habitude

As usual

We will pretend

As usual

We will make love

Yes, as usual

We will pretend

As usual [/box]

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25 thoughts on “5 Things America Calls French That Are Not And 5 Things That Are French But You Didn’t Know Were”

  1. Oh Sylviane,

    I am laughing so hard my belly hurts. I asked my Father-in-Law one day if he wanted to go to a French Restaurant with us. He said “Sure…I love French Fries!” OMG I remember how we laughed and still do rest his soul.

    The French Kiss really had me rolling when you said that you have seen cows do it. All these misconceptions I knew about that is why I am laughing.

    But…thanks for the information about all the rest especially the song “My Way.” Hey, we have to give credit where credit is due!

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    1. Hi Donna,

      I’m glad I made you laugh. I had a good time writing this too.

      I think that fries might be called French because people here consider Belgium to be France, but that’s no fare for them. anyway!

      Thanks for your visit.

  2. Hi Sylviane

    As I always say I love this one of your blogs.

    How I knew that fries were not french. But Belgium – wow! I thought they were English. We eat them in Australia and call them “chips” like the English – you know fish and chips. But occasionally in cafes here we see the word “Fries” but never french. The only place I have seen that is in America.

    French toast now that you mention it I never saw it in France but yes in America. We now have it here called French too.

    Well yes the kissing one is strange for sure.

    All of the things that are French I did not know that. That song especially surprises me.

    Thanks again Sylviane for some more education on France. I love it!

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    1. Hi Sue,

      Hum, English, that’s investing. As far as we know in France fries come from Belgium that’s there specialty. Maybe the English make lot of fries too!

      It’s funny the other day I was listening to French documentary where a song writer was saying that he’d bet that most Americans think that My Way is an American song. Ah that needed to be said!

      Thanks for your visit and I’m glad you like this blog!

  3. Hi Sylviane,

    Oh…this is such an informative post 🙂

    All this while I was also under the impression that all those things were French. And it’s not only in the US that people think of them like this – as even in our country I’ve always thought French Fries, and French Toasts to really be from French!

    Not to mention these other 5 things that we never knew to be French inventions, more so as we use them so commonly – the sewing machine, stethoscope etc.

    Thanks for sharing and letting us know all of this. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
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    1. Hi Harleena,

      I think that the fact that the world think that fries are French is because people kind of take Belgium to be part of France, but it’s really its own country.

      I’m glad this post was informative to you, and thanks for coming.

  4. Thanks for sharing these fabulous tidbits with us. To tell the truth I’ve never thought much about it but you’ve made me curious about the originals of many of these things. Really cute blog and I loved the info. Very funny and very interesting.

    Good stuff.
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    1. Hi Barbara,

      No doubt. I’m sure most people don’t even think about these, but it was fun to write and I wanted people know this. Especially the things they call French for no apparent reasons, while they think that My Way is an American song 🙂

      Thanks for coming by.

  5. This is uncanny my friend Sylviane. I am actually working on the same post as you. Actually just the part about all the things people call french but are not French. Man, are you reading my mind.
    I loved reading about all the things that really are French but most of the world does not know it.

    It’s so funny you mentioned Claude Francois. My aunt used to play his music a lot when I was a kid. She sill goes crazy whenever she sees some show about him. It,s kind of obsessive if you ask me.. LOL.
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    1. Hi Annie,

      How funny! You’ve often said that I’m reading your mind. Man, I may have that talent and don’t know it! I’ve got to go read your post now 🙂 I love your blog, by the way, just always pressed for time, especially these past couple weeks because I moved.

      Ah, Claude Francois. If one reader could know of him it would be you. I used to love him when I was a kid, but as you’re saying the craziest ones were the adults. They were not right, if you ask me. So excessive that’s weird. But he had a lot of fan like that. He was the pop star of his time!

      Thanks for coming by and see you at your blog
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  6. Hello Sylviane

    I love this blog because of all the information we get from you.
    Like Barbara, I really never thought about the things you have mentioned, except I kinda knew that fries did not come from France.
    You are too funny, but the truth is still said, I like that about you.

    Thank you for informing us, now we can tell others.

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    1. Hi Lisa,

      Nice to see you here again. Gosh I haven’t been at your place in a while. Sorry, we’ll make up 🙂

      As I try to use MY VOICE when I write, I sometimes forget that I like to joke, so at times I try to be more me in my writing this way, and this post was a good platform for it. That’s why you might have found it funny 🙂

      Thank you for your visit, Lisa 🙂
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  7. Well that was cool Sylviane. I had some French toast this week and boy was it ever good. I kind of thought that the French kiss came from France but I guess not. See, learning something new every day.

    Now I was surprised by the Singer sewing machine and then of course the song “My Way”. Talk about surprised and I’ll have to share this with my Mom. We still have one of the older Singer sewing machines. It was my grandmothers and it’s so darn cool.

    Thanks for giving us this little lesson Sylviane.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      I think that post was cool too. And watch for Annie, she got a similar one coming up. She saying that I’m reading her mind. We often have the same ideas for posts 🙂

      I also have an old Singer sawing machine just like the one in the picture from my grandmother. Yep that a French sawing machine you have.

      I was just listening to a French show the other day and that guy was saying how MOST Americans think that the song My Way is from America.

      That’s what gave me the idea for the post to start with. I knew that the song was French of course, but I was surprised when he said that Americans thought it was theirs. With this post I see that he was right 🙂

      Thanks for catching up with this post, Adrienne.

  8. Wow! Talk about being duped all these years. I love when you do posts like this. The stuff we have known for so many years just get called whatever I think if it reminds us of the French. Like the doors one realtor told me that she saw some doors in France that looked like some doors she saw once and it stuck for her. I don’t know actually, but I love how you busted the stereotype we placed on stuff in our culture us silly Americas think is French.
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  9. Sylviane,
    I don’t know why we call all of those things “French _______”.I did know that Pasteurization and Braille were developed by the French. I am not sure if I knew the sewing machine and the stethoscope were developed by the French and I have never heard of the song. I learned something!

    I do know that the French are not the only ones that we use to name things though. How about German Chocolate Cake, Russian Tea, Swiss Cheese, Italian Butter Bread, German Pancakes, or Spanish Rice.

    I suppose some of those may have come from the country that the name refers to but I bet there are others that do not.

    I guess we just like to put the names of countries into names. Maybe it makes the item sound more exotic.

    Great post.

    Dee Ann
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    1. Hi DeenAnn,

      Yes, there are many items that we call … from somewhere. How much truth is there in that? I’m not sure. I don’t know what we called gruyiere-like cheese swiss cheese here in the Us.

      I’m glad to see that this post was news for a lot of people.

      Thank you for coming
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  10. This is so much fun and once again shows the roots of our mix cultures. These are some of the ways through which the different cultural mixes of their roots can be traced in big ways. Helps us see how deep we go through the shifts and changes.

    1. Hi Desisree,

      I’m not sure I udnerstand your comment here, but in the hope that it’s legitimate, here it is approved. But in case it’s just for links I removed your site for now.

      Sorry, about that, but too many people are not honest. I hope you are.
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  11. Great info Sylviane,

    I always think that French fries are made in France first and so it is called as french fries . I was so stupid??? I think almost 90% population is stupid then; as many of these things ( and many other that you have not listed here) are not FRENCH at all.

    As I am a doc i know that stethoscope is invented by Rene Laennec and here we have to give credit to him.

    Anyways this a good read post and totally exploring new way of thoughts. Thanks ….I am sharing this with my girlfriend who still think that French were the first on planet who loved to Kiss 🙂

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