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There are some occasions when people use the expression "XX ans aux chanterelles" (the most famous one being the "papa smurf" which "a eu 542 ans aux chanterelles"). I was wondering where the expression comes from and it it has any specific meaning.

More precisely, my question are:

  • is it just an embellishment? are there any actual difference between saying "J'ai eu 42 ans" ans "J'ai eu 42 ans aux chanterelles".
  • is the expression prior to the smurfs?
  • does it refer to late summer/early autumn ( mushroom season)
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  • I would guess 1) it is more il a eu 80 ans aux chandelles , derivative from (il a soufflé ses) 80 bougies a chandelle is a kind of candle 2) for papa smurf "chanterelle" is a pun on "chandelle"
    – Archemar
    Nov 22, 2022 at 15:43
  • @Archemar thanks for the answer, "il a eu 80 ans aux chandelles" does not fit my understanding of French grammar ("il a eu 80 chandelles" would be more like it). But perhaps in some Belgian dialect it's closer to a known expression.
    – ARG
    Nov 23, 2022 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

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I found no hit at all for the expression that wasn't related to the smurfs, either on google or ngram, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't an expression before.

To me it refers to the "chanterelles season". It's like saying:

Il a eu 20 ans à la mi-juillet

It implies he doesn't have a precise birthday but he knows roughly at what time of the year he was born. Since they don't have a calendar, they use nature as a time reference.

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  • here are few articles with the expression, which are not smurf-related: Le Dauphiné, Sens critique, Télégramme, Vosges matin, etc... Just google "ans aux chanterelles" (with the ").
    – ARG
    Nov 23, 2022 at 13:42
  • (and thanks for the answer!)
    – ARG
    Nov 23, 2022 at 13:45

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