Everything about the French quote "C'est la vie"

Get ready to learn everything you want to know about the basic sentence “C’est la vie”.

More precisely, this includes a complete explanation of what it is and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. And because we care about you, we also sprinkled some super useful stuff like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonyms and more!

Oh and in case you are interested, you can also find our others sentences pages on this page and all our pages about French words on this page. Enjoy!

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Translation in English

Audio pronunciation

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does c'est la vie mean?


“C’est la vie” is a fatalistic French phrase that means “That’s life” or “That’s how it is“. It shows acceptance or resignation to a less-than-ideal situation.

It can be used in two ways…

How to use

First, you can use it fatalistically when you can’t do anything about an unpleasant situation or bad news:

  • Je dois travailler dimanche, c’est la vie. → I have to work on Sunday, that’s life.
  • Elle m’a quitté…c’est la vie. → She dumped me… that’s life.

But French people also use it about something necessary for life or a way of life:

  • Les croissants, c’est la vie. → Croissants are life. (= I can’t live without croissants)
  • C’est la vie de prêtre. → That’s priest’s life. (= That’s how it is to be a priest)

Funny stuff

“C’est la vie” is widely used in other languages, including English.

And surprisingly, it’s much more used in English than in French. Probably because we prefer to use “C’est comme ça” (That’s how it is).


  • C’est comme ça → That’s how it is
  • Ainsi va le monde → That’s how the world goes
  • On n’y peut rien → There is nothing we can do about it
  • On ne peut rien y faire → There is nothing we can do about it

Example in a story with English translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this sentence in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Monsieur le professeur
Mr professor
Brigitte était très heureuse de ses cours de photographie.
Brigitte was very happy with her photography lessons.
Elle ne regrettait pas du tout son choix.
She wasn’t regretting her choice at all.
Elle aimait apprendre quelque chose de nouveau tous les jours.
She enjoyed learning something new every day.
De plus, elle admirait son professeur : Christian.
In addition, she was admiring her teacher: Christian.
De temps en temps, elle parlait un peu avec lui…
From time to time, she was talking with him a bit…
En général, il lui donnait des conseils très utiles.
In general, he was giving her very useful advice.
Un jour, elle eut une longue conversation avec lui au sujet de son passé et de son futur.
One day, she had a long conversation with him about his past and his future.
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