La Petite Souris: Learn about French culture

En France (et dans le Sud de l’Europe), la petite souris vient prendre les dents des enfants quand elles tombent. C’est la cousine de la “fée des dents” du folklore anglo-saxon !

Aujourd’hui, on va voir un personnage des contes et légendes de la culture française. Une figure petite mais importante !

Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson

  • Pratiquer ta compréhension (Tu peux activer les sous-titres)
  • Découvrir le folklore autour de la petite souris

La leçon vidéo est toute en français pour t’aider à pratiquer. La leçon écrite est en français et en anglais pour t’aider à comprendre.

Bonjour c’est Géraldine.
Bienvenue sur Comme une Française. C’est parti !

Tu peux en apprendre encore plus sur la féérie à la française, dans une leçon spéciale.

Cliquez ici pour voir “French Fairy Tales, Old and New”

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1) L’histoire de la Petite Souris

Everybody in France knows La Petite Souris (= “the Little Mouse”), and it struck me that this tale was not universal when the daughter of an American friend lost her first tooth.

It’s funny how some tales or folklore are so deep-rooted in our culture that we can’t even imagine it’s different elsewhere. This is why, without her story, I would never have thought of telling you about La Petite Souris, a popular character of folklore for children in France and a few other countries.

Young children first have “une dent de lait” (= a baby tooth, literally “a milk tooth”). “Perdre une dent de lait” (= losing a baby tooth) (especially the first one!) is an unavoidable part of growing up.

The good news is: there’s a folklore ritual to make it less surprising and scary!

The child can say: “Ma dent est tombée.” (= My tooth fell off) [verb “tomber” = to fall, to fall off.]

Then her parents can say, for example: “Oh ! La petite souris va passer ce soir !” (= “Oh, the Little Mouse will come tonight!”)

Or: “Mets ta dent sous ton oreiller pour que la petite souris puisse passer !
(= Place your tooth under your pillow so the Little Mouse can come!)

[Mettre la dent sous son oreiller / sur sa table de nuit = to place the tooth under your pillow / on your nightstand]

At night, very quietly, la petite souris vient chercher la dent. (= “The Little Mouse comes to take the tooth.”)

Elle laisse une pièce ou un petit cadeau en échange de la dent.
(= “The Little Mouse leaves a coin or a little present in exchange for the tooth.”)

L’enfant trouve la pièce à son réveil.
(= “The child finds the coin when she wakes up in the morning.”)

In France, losing your first “dent de lait” is a big event in the life of the family. Some parents even keep the tooth in a small box.

2) The extra mile: culture and precision

Be careful: to be understood, you must talk about “La petite souris.” “The Little Mouse,” that’s her full name!

Otherwise, “Une petite souris” (= “A little mouse”) sounds weird.

However, one very cute animated movie in particular runs with the idea that there are multiple “petites souris” : Ernest et Célestine, an award-winning animated movie made in 2012.

It’s an adaptation of the book series with the same name by the Belgian writer and artist Gabrielle Vincent. This series was published between 1981 and 2000, and it tells the adventures of big, sweet Ernest (un ours = a bear) and small Célestine (une souris = a mouse).

C’est très mignon et pour toute la famille!
(= “It’s really cute, and for the whole family!”)

3) À ton tour !

Do you remember the words from the lesson?

How do you say the following words in French?

  • A baby tooth
  • A pillow
  • The name of the main characters from Gabrielle Vincent’s books





(Answers: une dent de lait / un oreiller / Ernest et Célestine )

Et toi ?

Parle-moi d’un personnage du folklore de ton pays.
Tell me about a character from your country’s folklore!

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Allez, salut 🙂

Join the conversation!

  • Il y a assez longtemps, les petits enfants en Angleterre
    recevaient une pièce de monnaie -sixpence – quand ils
    avaient perdu la première dent. Mais, ça c’était l’ancienne
    monnaie, et quant à ce qu’ils reçoivent aujourd’hui ~ je
    n’ai aucune idée !
    Mais les contes de fées ? Il vaut la peine d’aller chercher
    Les Contes à Ninon / La Fée Amoureuse par Émile Zola.
    C’est l’histoire d’une fée qui apporte le bonheur à deux
    jeunes gens pour qu’ils puissent être ensemble pour
    toujours. Voilà, un dénouement heureux sans perdre
    des dents 😀

  • Bonjour Madame Géraldine ! Je suis très heureux de vous ‘voir’ encore ! Merci beaucoup pour le leçon ! I enjoyed learning about, ‘La Petite Souris’ of France very much and she sounds very cute! In Australia, we have, as you have mentioned, ‘The Tooth Fairy’ who visits when children lose their milk teeth. Our two little girls would place their tooth in a glass with a little water in it that was left on their side-dresser and the Tooth Fairy would take the tooth and leave ‘a coin’ (of money) in the tooth’s place for the children to find when they woke up the next morning. Merci encore, Madame Geraldine et bonne journée ! 💐

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