Chassé-croisé des juillettistes et des aoûtiens

Annual French Expression

Meaning two-way traffic jam in late July / early August
Literally crisscross of “Julyers” and “Augusters”
Register informal
Pronunciation [leu shah say krwah zay day zhwee yay teest ay day zah oo sye(n)]
IPA   [lə ʃa se krwa ze de ʒɥi je tist e de za u sjɛ̃]
Le chassé-croisé
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Usage notes: A traffic jam is un embouteillage or un bouchon, but typically that refers to traffic that’s stopped in just one direction due to an accident, road work, etc. When traffic is disrupted both ways, it’s called le chassé-croisé, and it happens several times a year due to France’s staggered vacation periods. As one zone’s vacation ends and another begins, there are traffic jams in every direction.

The worst of these occur in late July and early August. Employees have either July or August off from work, and so are known as either juillettistes (from juillet – “July”) or aoûtiens (from août – "August"). When the juilletistes head home as the aoûtiens start out, le chassé-croisé des juillettistes et des aoûtiens begins.

(Since many people only go somewhere for two weeks in the summer, there are somewhat smaller chassés-croisés in mid-July and mid-August.)

Synonymous expression: le grand chassé-croisé de l’été

 The term chassé-croisé was created from the past participles of chasser (to chase) and croiser (to cross), so literally means "chased-crossed." The original meaning, also found in English, is a dance step where partners take turns crossing in front of each other.

Related expressions

  • des chassés-croisés – traffic jams, to-ing and fro-ing
  • une période de chassé-croisé sur les routes – a period of heavy two-way traffic
  • un chassé-croisé d’une conversation / de conversations – phone tag, when two people can’t reach each other
  • le samedi noir – black Saturday, the worst traffic day of the year

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Le chassé-croisé des juillettistes et des aoûtiens
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