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Bizarre French superstitions you should know about

PUBLISHED: 11:42 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:42 18 January 2017

18 bizarre French superstitions © Iakov Filimonov / Thinkstockphotos

18 bizarre French superstitions © Iakov Filimonov / Thinkstockphotos


With superstitions involving baguettes, pancakes, knives and cats, the French have plenty of bizarre superstitions to make you laugh! These are 18 of our favourites

1. Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. Some believe this superstition comes from the Last Supper when there were 13 people present the day before Jesus’s crucifixion on Good Friday. Others think it stems from the 14th century when hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France on Friday 13th. It is now a firmly embedded superstition and even has its own phobia name – paraskavedekatriaphobia. In fact, flights are much cheaper on Friday 13th because people don’t want to fly on the unluckiest day of the year and it’s cheaper to get married too! While in France, the French hope to get lucky with the traditional Friday 13th lottery draw.

2. Never place a baguette or loaf of bread upside down on a table, if you do you will invite famine into the house. According to folklore this superstition stems from the days when executioners were allowed to grab things from shops with one hand without paying and so bakers used to leave a loaf of bread upside down for them.

3. Stay away from black cats! If one crosses your path at night then bad luck is coming your way. Other superstitions involving cats include, never cross a stream carrying a cat (also brings bad luck) and in Normandy seeing a tortoiseshell cat foretells your death in an accident.

4. Be careful which foot you tread in dog poo with. Stepping in dog poo with your right foot is said to bring bad luck, however, stepping in it with your left foot brings good luck!


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Moving into a new house superstition © Creatas / Thinkstockphotos Moving into a new house superstition © Creatas / Thinkstockphotos

5. If you are moving into a new house, make sure you bring the table in first as this will ensure good fortune.

6. Another way to bring good fortune into your home is to hang a horse shoe over the doorway. Just make sure you hang it upside down (not as a U shape) in France.

7. If you’re holding a dinner party at your French home consider the guest list carefully as having 13 people sat around the table is said to bring bad luck. This superstition is found in plenty of countries and is thought to have come from the Last Supper where there were 13 present, one of which was the traitor Judas.

8. Be careful not to spill any salt on the table as this will bring bad luck. Again, this is thought to be related to the Last Supper and particularly Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting where Judas is seen knocking over a pot of salt.


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Clinking glasses superstition © Nikolodion / Thinkstockphotos Clinking glasses superstition © Nikolodion / Thinkstockphotos

9. If you are making a toast and clinking glasses then make sure you look the other person in the eye or you will be unlucky in love for the next 7 years.

10. Don’t give a bunch of chrysanthemums to anyone – giving chrysanthemums is said to bring bad luck.

11. Knives are another bad gift idea in France – giving a knife as a gift is said to mean that you wish to cut off your friendship. To counter this, you must first accept a coin from them as payment and then you can give them the knives and continue being friends.

12. If you are pregnant and desperate for a girl then head down to the aviary. According to superstition if a woman sees an owl during her pregnancy then she is guaranteed to have a girl.

Flipping pancakes superstition © miroslavmisiura / Thinkstockphotos Flipping pancakes superstition © miroslavmisiura / Thinkstockphotos

13. When making pancakes make sure you hold a gold coin in your writing hand while flipping the pancake. If you catch the flipped pancake in the pan then your family will be rich.

14. Another way to bring good luck into your life is to get your hands on a sailor’s beret and rub the little red bobble on top.

15. To fill your entire year with good fortune a woman should wear a polka dot dress on New Year’s Day.

Lighting candles superstition © jeff gynane / Fotolia Lighting candles superstition © jeff gynane / Fotolia

16. When lighting a prayer candle in a church always do it from a match or lighter, never use another candle. If you do then all your wishes and good will are transferred to whoever the first candle was lit for.

17. Never light 3 cigarettes from the same match or you will have bad luck. This is thought to come from the WWI trenches when lighting 1 cigarette with a match alerts a sniper, lighting a second tells the sniper how far away the target is and so the third person to have his cigarette lit is easily shot.

18. This has to be the weirdest superstition… French wives should never iron their husband’s underpants whilst wearing a belt as it will lead to him suffering kidney pain!

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

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