Essential French Phrases You Need To Know Before You Travel To France

France is one of the world’s leading touristic destinations. Its medieval architecture, the splendours of its monuments and historical sites, and the evocative beauty of its capital make France a fascinating country for people of all ages.

However, it is a well-known fact that if you want your experience in France to be the best it can be, you will need to learn some French phrases. This is because French people really appreciate it when tourists make an effort to use their language. As a result, you will find them at their friendliest if you learn the following expressions.

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French Greetings

Memorising some common French phrases to greet people is the first step towards a rewarding experience in a French-speaking country. The most common colloquial greetings in French are:

Salut. — Hi. [Informal]

Bonjour. — Hello.

Bonsoir. — Good evening.

However, you do not want to leave it at that, do you? If you want to have a real conversation, you will need to ask your interlocutor how he or she is doing. These pleasantries are highly regarded in French-speaking cultures, so make sure you know the following phrases:

Comment ça va? — How are you doing? [Neutral]

Comment allez-vous? — How are you? [Formal]

Ça va? — How’s it going? [Informal]

Naturally, the person that you are talking to might ask you the same thing, so you will need to remember some standard answers as well:

Ça va très bien. — It’s going very well.

Tout va bien, merci. — Everything is fine, thank you.

French Phrases to Ask for Information

When you first arrive in a foreign country, you might feel a bit lost at first. As a result, you will need to ask lots of questions. Here are some useful French expressions you can use to get valuable information about different things.

Combien ça coûte? — How much does this cost?

Quel est le mot de passe du wifi? — What’s your wifi password?

 est — Where is…

le supermarché — the supermarket

la Banque — the bank

le musée — the museum

le bar — the bar

l’hôpital — the hospital

l’aéroport — the airport

If what you are doing is asking for directions, then you will need to understand the French phrases below, as they are bound to appear in the answers to your questions.

À gauche — on the left

À droite — on the right

Devant — in front of

Tout droit — straight ahead

À côté de — next to

Près (de) — near (to)

loin (de) — far (from)

Ordering Food

One of the main reasons why people travel to France is to try French cuisine. But if you want to have a truly unforgettable experience, we dare you to pick a great restaurant and use only French from the moment you step into the place to the moment you walk out the door. You already know how to say “Good evening” and “Goodbye”, so let us focus on the phrases you will need to order your food.

La carte, s’il vous plaît — The menu, please.

Je voudrais — I would like…

L’addition, s’il vous plaît — The bill, please.

Une minute, s’il vous plaît — Just one minute, please.

Quelle est la spécialité du jour? — What is today’s special?

Clothes Shopping

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Home to some of the most important designers in the world, France is known as a mecca for fashion and good taste. Once you arrive at le centre commercial in Paris you will be in awe at the Parisian sense of style. But in order to do some shopping, you will need to inquire about prices, size, and payment options. Here are some phrases you can use to shop for clothes in French-speaking countries.

Je voudrais acheter ces baskets. — I would like to purchase these trainers.

Combien coûte ce haut? — How much is this top?

Je cherche une chemise verte. — I’m looking for a green shirt.

Est-ce que ces jeans sont en soldes? — Are these jeans on sale?

Je peux payer avec la carte de crédit? — Can I pay by credit card?

Je cherche ce pantalon en taille 38. — I’m looking for these pants in size 38

Est-ce que vous avez d’autres tailles? —Do you have other sizes?

Although one might feel tempted to rely on translation apps these days, there is nothing more rewarding than travelling to a foreign country and thriving on your own effort. With the basic French phrases above, you should be able to get by in any French-speaking country. Without any doubt, this way you will have a much more fulfilling experience.

If all this French talk has inspired you to learn more about this fascinating language, make sure you explore our customised online courses with native teachers. Also, because learning a new language is getting to know a new way of thinking and doing things, you may want to check this article about the most interesting cultural differences between France and English-speaking countries. Last but not least, if you are thinking about moving to France you should definitely read our post on official French language tests.