Le cinq à sept
[leu seh(n) ka set
afternoon tryst (France), happy hour (Québec)
the five to seven (o'clock)
The expression le cinq à sept
refers to what could be considered a very French version of Happy Hour: the two-hour period after work, from 5 to 7 pm, when (some) people meet up with their lovers before going home to their spouses. Translation: an afternoon tryst.
The reality of le cinq à sept
was openly acknowledged for perhaps the first time in Françoise Sagan's 1967 novel La Chamade
. Just for fun, I had my husband ask his students (aged 40 and up) about it, and they all said they were very familiar with le cinq à sept
, with one exception. The youngest said she didn't know it, then added a caveat: Mais je viens de me marier, alors qui sait ce qui va se passer dans vingt ans.
Incidentally, the French translation of "tryst" is un rendez-vous galant
- further proof that everything sounds better in French. Well almost: for "happy hour," the correct translation is heure du cocktail
or heure de l'apéritif
, but instead they usually stick with 'appy hour
In Québec, le cinq à sept
has nothing to do with sex. It refers to a group of friends meeting up to have a drink after work, or before an evening outing to a play or some other entertainment. In this sense, le cinq à sept
might be translated by "happy hour" or, if it doesn't include alcohol, just something generic like "afternoon get-together" or "rendez-vous."