Are you planning to, or already scheduled to visit France soon? One of the most important things to know aside from your travel details and itinerary is the language.
The French people may speak and understand English but it is considered a basic courtesy to have even a beginner’s knowledge of their language as well.
Things you'll find in this article
- 50+ Useful French Phrases For Travelers
- French Phrases for Basic Greetings and Introductions
- French words for a Cafe or Restaurant
- Getting Around The City and Reading Signages in French
- French phrases for the cab
- French words when shopping
- When You’ve Ran Out of French
- French phrases for Basic Conversation
50+ Useful French Phrases For Travelers
For one, it helps you navigate cities and towns easier. Knowing even a bit of French gives a more authentic local feel to your experience as a traveler.
Locals are definitely more welcoming and accommodating to visitors who speak even a simple Oui and Bonjour!
You do not have to learn how to conjugate or form complex sentences, the basics will do fine.
From greetings to getting around cities and towns to some popular expressions – here are some French phrases that will help you truly enjoy your visit to France.
French Phrases for Basic Greetings and Introductions
These are useful phrases that help you answer simple questions, properly address people you meet, and even introduce yourself.
Oui – Yes
Non – No
Bonjour – Hello
Au revoir – Goodbye
À bientôt – See you soon
Bonsoir – Good evening
Merci – Thank you
Merci beaucoup – Thank you very much
S’il vous plaît – Please
Excusez-moi – Excuse me
De rien / Je vous en prie – You’re welcome
D’accord – OK / Okay.
Comment vous appelez-vous? (formal) / Comment t’appelles-tu? (informal) – What’s your name?
Je m’appelle… – My name is…
Je suis… – I am … (nationaility)
…American – … Américain
…British – …Anglais
…Brazilian – …Brésilien
….Japanese – …Japonais
….Korean – ….Coréen
….Chinese – …Chinois
….Russian – …Russe
…Canadian – ...Canadien
Je viens … – I am from (country of origin)
…Australia – …d’Australie
…Canada – …du Canada
…England – …d’angleterre
…USA – …des USA
Je suis ici en vacances. – I am here on holiday.
Je suis ici en voyage d’affaires. – I am here on a business trip.
French words for a Cafe or Restaurant
France is foodie heaven. One of the best parts of traveling here is being able to sample French hearty dishes and delicious desserts.
The following are a few phrases that will help you when in a cafe or restaurant, from ordering to getting the check.
Où est un bon restaurant/un bon café? – where is a good restaurant or cafe?
Bonjour, une table pour une/deux/trois personnes, s’il vous plaît. – Hello, a table for one/two/three people, please.
Je vais prendre de l’eau / Je prendrais de l’eau. – I will take some water / I’ll take some water.
Je vais prendre du café / Je vais prendre du café au lait. – I will take some coffee or I will take some coffee with milk.
Le menu, s’il vous plaît. – Can I please have the menu?
Avez-vous un ménu en Anglais? – Do you have a menu in English?
Quels sont les plâts du jour? – What are today’s specials?
Je prendrai – I’d like…
Je voudrais – I would like…
L’addition, s’il vous plaît. – The check, please? (when it’s time to pay the bill)
If you or a companion has a food allergy or any dietary preference or restriction, this is an important phrase to remember:
Je ne peux pas manger… – I can’t eat…
The following are some common allergens that you can put after the word manger:
les produits laitiers – dairy products
le gluten – gluten
la viande – meat
le poisson/les fruits de mer – fish/ shellfish
noix – nuts
soja – soy
Getting Around The City and Reading Signages in French
Navigating a foreign country via its public transport system can be daunting. This is more challenging if it is a country of predominantly non-English.
How do you get on the right train? What does certain signage mean? How do you tell your cab driver where you’re going?
Phrases for direction:
Here are some phrases to learn that will help you get from point A to B without much hassle.
Je cherche le bus/train/métro. Où est l’arrêt le plus près? – I am looking for the bus/train/subway. Where is the nearest stop?
Comment aller à la station X – How do I get to X station?
Est-ce le bon sens pour aller à X – Is this the right direction to X?
Où est le guichet? – Where is the ticket window?
Je voudrais regarder l’horaire. – I would like to look at the schedule.
Je voudrais réserver un billet. – I would like to reserve a ticket.
Je voudrais acheter un billet aller simple/aller-retour pour Paris. – I would like to purchase a one-way ticket/a round-trip ticket.
À quelle heure faut-il arriver? – What time should it arrive?
Où est la sortie – Where is the exit?
La Sortie – Exit
Correspondance/s: – connection (transfer line)
Passage Interdit – Forbidden passageway/Do not enter
En Travaux – Under construction
Plan du Quartier – Neighborhood map
Attention, Danger de Mort – Warning, Danger of Death
French phrases for the cab
Je veux aller en/aux…– I have to go to…
Je dois aller à l’hôtel. – I have to go to the hotel.
French words when shopping
Huge, government-regulated sales, quaint little shops lining streets and harbors, weekend markets, covered or open-air markets – every town or city in France offers shopping opportunities that are hard to resist. Here are phrases that can help you while shopping.
Où sont les magasins? – Where are the shops?
Où est le centre-commercial? – Where is the mall?
Est-ce que je peux payer avec une carte de crédit? – Can I pay with a credit card?
Combien ça coûte? – How much does it cost?
C’est trop cher! – It’s too expensive!
C’est bon marché! – It’s a great deal!
C’est bon/mal/terrible. – It’s good/bad/terrible.
When You’ve Ran Out of French
Yes, except that it will happen. You want to say or ask something and you don’t know how to say it in French. You’ll be fine, people won’t expect tourists to know more French than necessary.
However, it does help to know a few ways to express that indeed, you’ve run out if French and you’re about to speak just English, please.
Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?
Je ne parle pas français.– I do not speak French.
Pouvez-vous m’aider, s’il vous plaît? – Can you help me, please?
Je ne comprends pas. – I don’t understand.
Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît. – Speak slowly, please.
Répétez, s’il vous plait. – Repeat, please.
Où sont des toilettes? – Where are the toilets?
Où est-ce que je peux trouver un plan de la ville? – Where can I find a city map?
French phrases for Basic Conversation
Whether you’re strolling around a neighborhood, browsing items in a shop, having coffee, or on a guided tour, you’ll come across locals.
Locals who will most likely strike up a conversation. It is best to be prepared during such instances with these useful French phrases.
Comment allez-vous? – How are you? (Formal – used when speaking to a stranger or older people.
Ça va? – How are you? (informal, to a friend or someone you’re already familiar with)
Quel est ton/votre film préféré? – What’s your favorite movie?
livre – book
genre de musique – type of music
émission de télévision – TV show
À tout à l’heure! – See you later!
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Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. France remains special to me, however. From architecture, history, and arts – France is truly an amazing place.