En voilà des débats pacifiques.

Context: A man was hoping for a solution by peaceful discussion, but the other party resorted to dirty tricks. He said this sentence in disappointment, since things didn’t turn out the way he had expected.

I assume that the original sentence above means something along the lines of:

Voilà ce qui s'est passé aux soi-disant débats pacifiques.

Am I correct in my interpretation? If so, I fail to see why the "en" can single-handedly take the place of all those extra words in my suggested sentence.

  • La ponctuation correcte serait avec un point d'exclamation. En voilà des débats pacifiques !. Tu as raison, c'est une expression. Pas d'équivalent anglais exact mot à mot.
    – None
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 17:31
  • So much for peaceful debates.
    – Kii
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 10:31

3 Answers 3


En voilà sert à introduire une remarque qui se veut ironique ou qui montre qu'on est choqué ou admiratif à ce qui a été dit ou fait.

Tu as bien compris l'ironie portée par l'expression en proposant « soi-disant » dans ton explication.

En voilà des débats pacifiques !

C'est à dire que ces débats n'ont rien de pacifiques.
(These are) Peaceful debates indeed! / What peaceful debates! (avec le ton adéquat, mais ce serait la même chose en français.)

En voilà des manières !

Je trouve que la personne dont je parle/à qui je parle est mal polie.
What dreadful manners!/ Mind your manners!

En voilà une bonne idée !

Je suis admirative.
What a good idea !

En voilà une bien bonne !

Je pense que ce qu'on vient de me dire est étonnant.
That's a good one!

En voilà assez !

That's enough! I've had enough.

  • To @Laure: Oh, I see. When your mobile phone doesn’t stop ringing on vacation, for instance: “En voilà des vacances relaxantes !” Is this how you phrase the idea? Merci. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:04
  • 1
    Exactement, tu as bien compris. (side note : On peut utiliser relaxant en français, moi je préfère reposantes pour les vacances).
    – None
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:06
  • To @Laure: Regarding "reposant" vs "relaxant": Is "reposant" used for the type of relaxation that soothes the mind (as in music and vacation), whereas "relaxant" is focussed more on the relaxation that removes your physical fatigue (as in massages)? Merci. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:19
  • @LUNA Je ne sais pas, c'est peut-être personnel. je dirais : musique relaxante, massage relaxant, vacances reposantes, activité reposante.
    – None
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 18:36
  • La phrase est ironique oui. C'est un sarcasme.
    – Kii
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 10:26

It's an ironic expression. A very close one in English would be "These are some ..."


En voilà des débats pacifiques !

These are some peaceful debates!


If so, I fail to see why the "en" can single-handedly take the place of all those extra words in my suggested sentence

It's being ironic and colloquial etc.

An analogous English-language idiom, equally short: "Talk about a peaceful debate!" or "Speaking of 'peaceful' debates..."

There's a very close equivalent in this famous "joke" expression,

Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into"

Assuming it wasn't a peaceful debate, another way to translate this phrase directly into English:

Now there's a peaceful debate ... not!

In spoken language you might use tone-of-voice, rolling-of-eyes, etc. to indicate sarcasm, in which case the final "... not!" might be implied or omitted.

Poe's law suggest you ought to ought to carefully punctuate sarcasm appropriately, if it's written, so something like (with a emoticon as punctuation):

Now there's a peaceful debate ;-)

Here is a non-sarcastic definition of en voilà, i.e. it does have a straighforward usage:

Signification -- Désigne quelque chose disponible en abondance.

Origine -- L'expression date du XVIIIe siècle, elle apparaît vers 1750. Elle témoigne d'une profusion de biens, disponibles à volonté. Il suffit ainsi de les demander pour les obtenir sans peine. Elle est désormais utilisée principalement dans le milieu publicitaire.

An example of that might be,

Tu as perdu ton stylo? Tiens, en voilà un autre.

Part of that message is that pens are abundant, that there are more where that one came from.

Here though are other examples of en voilàbeing used sarcastically:

  • En voilà des façons !
    Mind your manners!
  • En voilà des idées !
    (Quelles idées étranges !)
    Planter des vignes en Suède, en voilà des idées !
  • En voilà des manières !
    (Ça ne se fait pas !) Mind your manners!

Note that (to indicate sarcasm) these are punctuated with exclamation marks.

Actually the very closest English analog might be using the word "some"; for example:

  • "I'd like to fly a snowball into the sun."
  • "Yeah, some chance of that happening!"

In context, "some chance" means "there's no chance at all".

It's used in phrases like "Some hope!" IMO that phrase isn't calling for hope (it isn't saying "Could I please have some hope over here?"). It's saying "this is not hope, this is a bad example of things which I feel hopeful about."

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