There is a famous movie Life is Beautiful - by Roberto Benigni made in 1997 with strong European themes.

In addition, the perfume that Julia Roberts promotes, La vie est belle, translates to Life is Beautiful.

My question is: Is "La vie est belle" a specific idiom in French?

  • 1
    Are you asking about the English "Life is beautiful" as is, or the French sentence "La vie est belle"? Jul 1, 2016 at 13:12
  • 2
    No more an idiom in French than the Italian La vita è bella which is the original title of Benigni's movie, or the English Life is beautiful (song by Frend Astaire, or the German Das leben is shön or the Spanish la vida es bella, etc...
    – None
    Jul 1, 2016 at 15:48
  • "La Vie est belle", est une expression contemporaine que l'on ajoute après "Tout va bien" pour dire qu'il n'y a pas de problème... ou bien que l'on ne tient pas compte de ceux qui nous barrent la route :) .
    – Personne
    Jul 1, 2016 at 16:27
  • @cl-r Tout dépend du sens qu'on donne à contemporain... je pense tout de suite au refrain de La Périchole que la vie est belle quand le vin est bon (1868, Offenbach) et je serais étonnée qu'on ne trouve pas ces mots là avant le 19s. En anglais il y a des occurrences bien antérieures aussi.
    – None
    Jul 1, 2016 at 17:37
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    @hawkeye Can you explain why qoba's answer is accepted ? Imo it doesn't answer the question. So If it does, can you rephrase your question ?
    – Random
    Jul 2, 2016 at 9:34

3 Answers 3


This sentence is a bit tricky. "La vie est belle" is a normal sentence in French but it's an idiom in an English-speaking context. Specifically, it's thrown around as a token French phrase when people want to humorously say something French but don't really know what to say. It's similar to the expression "voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir" which isn't particularly an idiom in French but will be used in an English-speaking context as a kind of "placeholder French", with a crasser effect in that case.

  • 2
    Imo this does not answer the question... The question is « Is "La vie est belle" a specific idiom in French? », not « Is "La vie est belle" a specific idiom in English? ». Since it is the accepted answer, I guess OP was not clear in the question... ?
    – Random
    Jul 2, 2016 at 9:33
  • @Random This does indeed answer the question. It is not a special idiom in French, because this would normally be used by a French person if you are for example drinking wine in from of the sea at 22pm to literally means "life is good." but this will be used at some point by people learning French as an idiom to fill the conversation.
    – Swann
    Jul 2, 2016 at 12:48
  • I had to guess that the reason @hawkeye wondered about the meaning of that sentence in the first place was that it is often heard in English-speaking countries and thought it was important to take into account that element of context. Similarly a French native speaker might have wondered about the idiomatic status of "my tailor is rich" in English and "no" would have only told half the story. But I agree it may be good to clarify the question a bit.
    – qoba
    Jul 2, 2016 at 14:29
  • 1
    "My tailor is rich" is a reference to a once-popular cassette-based English learning method. I have no idea where present use of "la vie est belle" comes from though.
    – qoba
    Jul 4, 2016 at 10:17

When a sentence like this one can be translated word by word in most if not all known languages without gaining or losing any substantial part of its meaning, you can't call it a specific idiom. It is at best a transparent one but then it would need an easily understandable figurative meaning too.

La vie est belle has a clear litteral meaning but not that much a figurative one, unless when used ironically.


I don't know if it is an actual idiom, but it is indeed quite common. The meaning is very close to the actual meaning of the words, so no surprise: it means you are enjoying your life. You may use it to make your friend know you're having good time :

— Ça va, tes vacances sur ton île paradisiaque ?
— Ça va, la vie est belle, je ne me plains pas...

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