I mean, wandering around rather aimlessly on the Web, perhaps to kill time or just for the fun of it, rather than searching for any specific information.

I just said the following sentence to my French colleague, but I’m not sure if the message got across...

En me baladant sur Internet, je suis tombé sur un site intéressant consacré à tout ce qui a trait à la cuisine japonaise traditionnelle.


3 Answers 3


"En me baladant sur Internet / sur le web" is perfect, and probably what I'd personally use. Here's a few more :

J'étais sur Internet, et je suis tombé sur...

En navigant sur Internet, je suis tombé sur...

En surfant sur Internet, je suis tombé sur...

"Le web" can be used instead of Internet.


Something I use a lot is:

Traîner sur internet

It means "to hang out", with no particular goal, just to be there. It's a great word if you want to get the idea of "killing time".

"Naviguer" and "surfer" sound a little too "academical" to me. If you don't want any negative (time-killing) vibe, "se balader" is fine, or just "j'étais sur internet".


I believe they use the word "la toile" (the canvas?) for the internet. I've heard it on the news and on the radio in France. That being said, your colleague probably didn't have any problem understanding your sentence, which is completely correct too. Everybody there understands "internet" and "web".

Among my colleagues, "surfer le web" is completely legit too - no qualms about taking English verbs and making them into French verbs. "Surfer l'internet" also works.

I also just found this.

  • 1
    "La toile" here is a calque for "the web" rather than for "canvas". But I've never heard much use of that term in conversation, this is more of a news word
    – qoba
    Jan 12, 2017 at 5:01
  • 1
    I don't think I have ever heard "Surfer le web" or "Surfer l'internet". It is common to say "Surfer sur internet" or "Surfer sur le web". Jan 12, 2017 at 13:32
  • Mes potes le disent parfois. J'admets volontiers que ce n'est peut-etre pas tres courant.
    – Frank
    Jan 12, 2017 at 16:28
  • What is "French" anyway? I live in a bilingual French-American context, so we probably have idiosyncratic ways of mixing French and English. Should that be discounted as "non French"? I think there are many ways to "speak French", including inside of France.
    – Frank
    Jan 12, 2017 at 17:22

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