I'm trying to translate "workplace" to French and I'm finding two possibilities: "lieu de travail" and "milieu de travail".

"Lieu de travail" seems to me to be the obvious choice, since "lieu" can be understood literally as "place". But what is the exact difference? Are these synonymous?

EDIT: to add some context, I thought of translating a sentence like this one: "we must end discrimination and advance equity in the workplace". In this case it's not a specific workplace that's being mentioned (e.g., working at an Amazon warehouse or at Stackexchange virtually), it's just "the workplace" in abstract. Or, for example, how would one translate a title like "Equity and the Workplace: a complicated affair"?

  • 1
    I guess you don't want to translate the isolated word "workplace" but a full sentence where "workplace" appears. Depending on what this full sentence is, not only lieu de travail and milieu de travail might work but possibly alternatives like travail alone, poste de travail, environnement de travail and so on might better fit so if it exists, you can add this full sentence to your question.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 15, 2021 at 11:28
  • workplace is the physical location, so lieu de travail is right. milieu de travail is more work environment.
    – Lambie
    Jun 15, 2021 at 14:52
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    Thank you for your comments! I'll edit my question to add context
    – flen
    Jun 16, 2021 at 14:47

3 Answers 3


Greg already explained the difference between lieu and milieu in his answer.

For a more abstract usage as described in the updated question, I would drop lieu and milieu and just use travail or some equivalent:

1: We must end discrimination and advance equity in the workplace.

Nous devons mettre fin à la discrimination et faire progresser l'équité en entreprise.

2: Equity and the Workplace: a complicated affair.

L'équité au travail : une affaire compliquée.

Here are other examples from the comments:

3: Equity, justice and the workplace.

Équité et justice en milieu professionnel.

4: Nostalgia, happiness and the workplace.

Nostalgie, bonheur et travail or Nostalgie, bonheur et vie professionnelle.

In a colloquial context, you might also use au boulot but then, you need to find something else than équité.

  • Merci beaucoup! That's an excellent suggestion, the only problem is that I'm trying to avoid talking about "work" more generally (like labor relations, impact on workers, etc.) and I wanted to focus on the place where work happens (the workplace). But from what you're saying, I think there's no one-size-fits-all translation, it'd be highly dependent on context? (For example, if I said "Equity, justice and the workplace", how would this be translated? "équité, justice au travail"?)
    – flen
    Jun 16, 2021 at 22:21
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    I would suggest Équité et justice en milieu professionnel.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 16, 2021 at 22:48
  • Merci encore! Just one last question: how would you talk about them in isolation? For example, "Nostalgia, happiness and the workplace" (in the sense that it doesn't have to be happiness in the workplace, but conceived as separate things too)? Would it be "Nostalgie, bonheur et le milieu professionnel/de travail"?
    – flen
    Jun 17, 2021 at 2:11
  • The context is missing but maybe Nostalgie, bonheur et travail or Nostalgie, bonheur et vie professionnelle.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 17, 2021 at 6:32
  • Merci beaucoup, encore une fois! Could you please also add something to the answer about the difference between lieu and milieu de travail? (or do you think Greg's answer is already complete as it is?) Then I can mark your answer as the accepted answer
    – flen
    Jun 17, 2021 at 12:38

"Lieu de travail" is the location. "Milieu de travail" is rather the general situation of someone being at work: not just the location, but also the conditions in which the workers do their tasks, the working environment, etc.

  • Merci! So you mean that my workplace (e.g., "I'm having trouble at my workplace") would better be described with "lieu", but a more abstract workplace (e.g., "I have workplace problems") would be better described using "milieu"? I've edited my question to add some context to the translation
    – flen
    Jun 16, 2021 at 14:51

The « lieu de travail » is the physical location where one works. For an office worker that would include his own office as well as the common areas he has access to (cafeteria, etc.). For a plumber that would be his clients' homes, work sites.

The « milieu de travail » refers more to the social environment: coworkers and bosses as well as internal rules and regulations. For a plumber, that would be his clients, inspectors, contractors, etc. The « milieu des plombiers » would refer to whether plumbers are rather friendly to one another or rather competitive, if the clients are generally nice or are price-obsessed, if there is stress, etc.

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