The French saying "Les grands esprits se rencontrent"

Are you ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the inspirational French proverb “Les grands esprits se rencontrent”?

It includes a complete guide of what it mean and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. Along with the cool informations we sprinkled like synonyms, dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio and more!

Oh and if you are interested, you will also find our others proverbs tutorials on this page and the ultimate directory of all our French words tutorials on this page. Have fun!

Table of Contents

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Translation in English

How to pronounce?

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


It literally means:

  • Les → The (plural)
  • grands esprits→ big/great spirits
  • se rencontrent → meet each other

This French proverb is taken from a Voltaire’s letter in the 18th century. Its authentic formula was “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” → “Beautiful spirits meet each other“.

The word “Esprit” (Spirit) refers to a person and expresses the idea that smart people always find each other, like magnets. It’s used often with irony and humor when two people have the same idea simultaneously.

There is a similar proverb in English: “Great minds think alike“.

How to use it

Whenever you have the same thought/idea as someone you are talking with, you can say ironically: “Les grands esprits se rencontrent“. It implies that if you are both having this idea, the only explanation is that you are both “great minds“.

You can also use it more formally when having a very advanced/philosophical/interesting conversation with someone and want to show how much you enjoy it. In this case, the proverb is a true compliment to your interlocutor for his/her intelligence (and to yourself indirectly, because you are smart enough to be a part of the conversation).


  • Les beaux esprits se rencontrent. → Literally: Beautiful spirits meet each other.

Everyday life dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Toi aussi tu as un prix Nobel ? “
” You won a Nobel prize too? “
” Oui “
” Yes “
” Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! “
” Great spirits meet each other! “
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