“C’en est fini des boutiques 3 Suisses.”

“C’en est fini des boutiques 3 Suisses.”

sah nay fee-nee day boo-teek trwah SWEESS. Click below to hear this.*

It’s over for the 3 Suisses shops.

This was the opening line the other day to an article in LeMonde.fr, and it announced the end of a venerable French tradition. 3 Suisses (yes, it means 3 Swiss people) was what is known in the US as a “catalog store”: a store where you go to consult the catalog, order your goods, maybe sign up for a credit card.

Sound old-fashioned? Yes, it was, and that’s why the company has announced that they are closing all 35 of the 3 Suisses shops in France and laying off all 149 of those employees. They will focus their entire effort on e-commerce (same word in French), which already represents about 66% of their sales.

Some of the stores have already been spoken for by new renters, upon whom 3 Suisses has laid the condition of offering jobs to the former 3 Suisses employees.

As for the expression, it’s another of those phrases you can’t really dissect. The en has no discernable grammatical function; it’s just there. When you say C’en est fini de …, you are saying … is done for, is over with. The subject of the English sentence becomes the object of the preposition in the French one.

Finally, if you want to read the full story about 3 Suisses, you’ll find it at this link.

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:


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