Millefeuille administratif

mille-feuille Who says administrative jargon has to be boring? I heard a delicious expression on RTL describing the Kafkaesque series of government layers in France, with its régions, départements, cantons, communes etc. etc. : the millefeuille administratif.
It almost makes we want to go and renew my passport. Almost.
Incidentally, a millefeuille, also called a vanilla slice, cream slice or custard slice in the UK, doesn’t have a thousand layers: the pâte feuilletée (similar to puff pastry, but more buttery) is rolled into a square, buttered, and folded in thirds so as to make three layers. These steps are repeated six times, giving 729 layers of butter plus one détrempe, so 730 x 3 = 2190 layers. I don’t actually understand the calculation, found on Du miel et du sel, see if it makes more sense to you.
Transtextuel on the French side of the blog shares this excellent illustration of what I mean by “Kafkaesque” in relation to the French administration:

Millefeuille photo by shiokuma.

By | 2016-10-18T15:49:10+00:00 March 30th, 2009|Idioms|6 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Richard March 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    You talk a good cake, but leave us hungry!

  2. linda Herbertson March 30, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    A yummy expression, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that the layers often contradict each other and so cancel each other out and the pastry in effect “autophages”…
    and does a centipede have a hundred legs in English and a thousand feet (millepattes) in French? and how many continents are there?

  3. céline March 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Richard, I’ve been craving a sweet too. Might go and get a Yorkshire curd tart from the Ainsley’s round the corner.
    Linda, you’re right, the butter is to blame. Hmmm… butter.

  4. Mike April 2, 2009 at 6:39 am

    A Millefeuille is also called a Napoleon in the USA. In any language, it’s delicious!

  5. céline April 2, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Indeed! Apparently it’s due to the origins of the recipe, in Naples, and changed after the Napoleon wars.

  6. language hat April 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    A delightful video, very reminiscent of the Circumlocution Office!

Comments are closed.