Learn French
with Audio Stories

Try for Free


The French saying "Avec des si on mettrait Paris en bouteille"

On this page, we are going to teach you all the things you have to know about the basic proverb "Avec des si, on mettrait Paris en bouteille". To be more specific, this includes a complete guide of what it mean and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. Not to mention the useful informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonym and more!

French to English

  • Translation : If if's and and's were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers' hands

  • Literal meaning : With ifs, one would put Paris in a bottle

  • Register : Informal - Basic

Audio pronunciation



  • IPA : / avɛk de si, ɔ̃ mɛtʁɛ paʁi ɑ̃ butɛj. /

aesthetic french quote avec des si paris en bouteille

Learn French
with Audio Stories

Try for Free

What does it mean?


"If only I was immortal." or "If only I could fly." or even "If only I was smarter than Einstein". We all tend to say some crazy sentences starting with "If" like these.

Then, the purpose of this proverb is basically to discredit them and remind us that only (practical/tangible) actions matter. Need proof? Try to say: "Si seulement je pouvais mettre Paris en bouteille." ("If only I could put Paris in a bottle").

Chances are that you can say it, but can you do it?


Because with "Ifs" we could do anything, even putting Paris in a bottle, but it's only with actions that we can make the world.

How to use

Let's imagine you are talking with someone who often uses "If" sentences to make unfounded assumptions.

In this case, you can use "Avec des si on mettrait Paris en bouteille." to remind this person that only action matter.

You can also add "Attention" ("Be careful") at the beginning of the sentence if you want to emphasize the warning.

Fun fact

You probably wonder about the origin of this saying, well... it is unclear.

In fact, the most famous theory claims that it's coming from "Avec des si on mettrait Lutèce en amphore".

"Lutèce" (Lutecia) being the former name of Paris during the Roman empire. And "Amphore" (Amphora) being the name of antic vases used during this period.


* The French word "Scie" ("Saw" in English) is pronounced exactly like "Si" ("If" in English), adding a pun into the proverb.

Example in a dialogue with French audio


Si seulement j'étais plus grand et plus fort

If only I was taller and stronger

Avec des si, on mettrait Paris en bouteille.

With ifs, one would put Paris in a bottle.

Learn French with Audio Stories

Learn French the easy way with our French - English
parallel texts with slow French audio

Start Learning


Les bons comptes font les bons amis


To vocabulary list


L'habit ne fait pas le moine