How can one express distance poetically/romantically in languages like French that use the metric system?

You are miles and miles away, my love

Not bad.

You are kilometers and kilometers away, my...


But some languages tend to use kilomètres instead of miles. Does kilomètres have the same lack of poeticness/romance in French? Is there a more romantic way to say it, like English does with miles?


I would use "des lieues"

tu es à des lieues d'ici, mon amour

The lieue is an old distance unit:


  • 1
    Lieue is "League" in English. May 12 '17 at 21:59
  • 3
    Yes, this. A French speaker may or may not know exactly how much a lieue is, but they'd know it's a large distance, and it's often used in this way to say that something is far away. May 12 '17 at 23:57
  • 1
    Interestingly enough, the "leagues" that @TeleportingGoat mentions would have a similar value in English. "He was leagues and leagues away from her." The archaicness/uncertain measure might actually help with the romance.
    – Luke Sawczak
    May 13 '17 at 12:52

Well, maybe you can use "far" instead of a distance unit ? Or light years !?

Tu es si loin d'ici mon amour

Tu es à des années lumières mon amour

  • How is the content of your answer related to the content of this site?
    – None
    May 12 '17 at 8:32
  • I just try to help.
    – Orgoss
    May 12 '17 at 8:39
  • Yes I know, but the OP has obviously posted his question in the wrong place. I'm sure the question will be closed if they do not rewrite it. "French Language is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the French language. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about the French language."
    – None
    May 12 '17 at 8:55
  • 1
    “Des années lumières” is a common way of expressing that something is far away, but it's hardly poetic — not really right in a poem about love. May 13 '17 at 0:00

Tu te trouves à des années-lumières d'ici.

Light years works in French and English.

Une distance insupérable nous sépare.

Une distance infrachissable nous sépare.

Un vide énorme nous sépare.


A really poetical way of expressing extreme farawayness (can that even be a word?) is, perhaps, this one: être au-delà de soi-même, but not in this religious sense.

  • 2
    Unfortunately, it doesn't convey the meaning the OP is after. May 12 '17 at 12:23

I think “borne”, in either its “Pierre indiquant une distance” sense or in its “Familier. Kilomètre” sense (from Larousse.fr) could be used to capture the notion of [a measure of] distance perhaps in a less technical (or at least more casual) manner than would “kilomètre,” but as for being more romantic or poetic, I think that would depend more on the words accompanying whatever word you choose for “distance” than on the chosen word itself.

That is to say that I think the following phrases would be just as romantic (or not) whether one uses “kilomètre,” “borne,” or any of the good answers given so far:

“Borne après borne, kilomètre après kilomètre, nos corps s’éloignent, [mais nos cœurs garderaient à jamais l'empreinte de notre amour.]”

“Malgré toutes ces bornes et tous ces kilomètres qui nous séparent, [nos cœurs garderaient à jamais l'empreinte de notre amour.]”

“Hélas, 1000 bornes/kilomètres nous séparent, [mais nos cœurs garderaient à jamais l'empreinte de notre amour.]”

(please note that the final bracketed clause in all three of my examples comes from Gaby Bernier: Tome 2 1927-1940, by Pauline Gil, via Googlebooks, whereas the first clause of my examples, at least to the extent that they are not good and idiomatic French, are essentially of my own doing)

  • 1
    No, borne is as unpoetic as it gets. It's also pretty much never used without a number; none of your crafted example are anything a French person would say. May 12 '17 at 23:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.