Un beauf was originally a shortened form of beau-frère (“brother-in-law”), but it acquired a new meaning, similar to the American “redneck”.

Wikipedia defines it better than I could: a beauf is “a man perceived as vulgar, unintelligent, arrogant, uncaring, misogynist and chauvinistic, without any taste for etiquette or good manners.” I would add “close-minded” and “uneducated” to the list, but he is mostly harmless and well-meaning. He usually lives in a small town or in the countryside and his interests probably include football, car tuning, Johnny Hallyday and drinking pastis.

The perfect beauf is a caricature and does not exist. Different people have various ideas of a stereotypical beauf, and few people would call themselves beaufs.

Y a que les beaufs qui regardent les émissions de télé-réalité.
Only beaufs watch reality shows.

Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, c’est un film pour beauf.
Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis is a beauf movie.

(I actually found this movie entertaining, but many people called it a movie for beaufs.)

Here are some movies you could watch to have a better understanding of the concept:

  • Les Bronzés (Patrice Leconte, 1978): it is a comedy satirizing the life at holiday resorts which became a cult film in France.
  • Camping (Fabien Onteniente, 2006): definitely not a masterpiece of the French cinema, but it is still a good illustration of the beauf concept.
  • Espace Détente (Bruno Solo and Yvan Le Bolloc’h, 2005): a movie based on the TV series Caméra Café. Some of the characters are complete beaufs.
  • Any movie with Franck Dubosc (that includes Camping and other movies I have not seen, such as Disco and Bienvenue à bord).
Franck Dubosc, an actor who often portrays beaufs. (Wikimedia Commons)
Franck Dubosc, an actor who often portrays beaufs. (Wikimedia Commons)

Listen to the examples:

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