Menu icoMenu232Dark icoCross32Dark
Se la couler douce


Subscribe to our newsletter

Se la couler douce

Je me la coule douce is a lovely expression which we hope you can still use for a few more days before the busy fall season kicks in.  It literally translates as I'm flowing myself softly, and means I'm taking it easy, I'm relaxing.  Couler means to flow and douce is soft, or sweet.

The expression belongs to everyday French and is acceptable in any kind of conversation. When applied to someone else, however, it is usually intended as an ironic comment, and can even be slightly derogatory, as in: he/she is taking it a little too easy; it wouldn't kill them to try a little harder.  In that, it is less neutral than its English counterpart.  Another difference is that the English is often used in the imperative form, such as "Take it easy!" but the French phrase can't be used that way.  Instead, the French will say: Vas-y doucement - go slowly - , or (ne) te fatigues pas! - don't overdo it!


The expression, which appeared in the 19th century, is simply an elliptical form of the much older phrase couler une vie douce - flowing a soft life - a philosophy that our Italian friends expressed in the form of "dolce vita."  LA stands for la vie in the same way as IT stands for life in the English taking it easy.

While wine sometimes flows freely and water flows from mountains, the verb couler does not only apply to liquids in French: it also has a temporal meaning.  We say that le temps s'écoule - time flows - and we speak of couler des jours heureux - flowing happy days. The adjective SOFT applied to a life lived without worries and led without effort, comes in opposition to the HARD life - la vie dure - led by workers who rarely have the opportunity to lie back and relax.


J'ai hâte d'être à la retraite pour pouvoir enfin me la couler douce!
I look forward to retiring and be able to take it easy, finally!

J'ai l'impression que les ouvriers se la coulent douce sur ce chantier; les travaux n'avancent pas.
It looks like the construction workers don't do much on this site; they take forever.

See also
Pédaler dans la choucroute

Pédaler dans la choucroute

This is another (weird) expression directly related to the Tour de France - which ended on July...

July 25, 2022
La lanterne rouge

La lanterne rouge

Être la lanterne rouge - to be the red lantern - means to come last in a ranking, or list. The...

July 20, 2022
Faire la grasse matinée

Faire la grasse matinée

What a luxury to pull a fluffy pillow over your ears while the birds break the silence of the...

June 28, 2022
Un Papa Gâteau

Un Papa Gâteau

Here is a legitimate question to ask on Father's day: is Dad un Papa Gâteau?Literally translated...

June 15, 2022
La fin des haricots

La fin des haricots

Literally translated as the end of the beans, la fin des haricots usually comes with a sigh and...

June 8, 2022