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Soon you'll be chatting in cafés like a Parisian.

Jess McHugh
May 19, 2017

Anyone who has spent even the shortest amount of time in France — particularly in Paris — knows the importance of being able to speak a little français.

Locals will quickly warm to travelers who at least make an effort to speak their language. Whether it's saying "Bonjour" when you enter a shop or ordering politely in a café, the French will take note of your courtesy. Any useful French words, sayings, or phrases you can commit to memory will help you navigate the country, interact with residents, and make the most of your trip.

And, as a rule, remember that it's always safer to use the "vous" or formal version of French, unless you're speaking to a child.

Basic French words

Hello: Bonjour (formal), Salut (informal)

Goodbye: Au revoir

Beautiful: Beau (masculine), Belle (feminine)

Please: s'il vous plaît (formal), s'il te plaît (informal)

Common French phrases

Where is the bathroom?: Où sont les toilettes?

I love you: Je vous aime (formal), Je t'aime (informal)

How are you: Comment allez-vous ? (formal) Comment vas-tu ? (informal)

I miss you: Vous me manquez (formal), Tu me manques (informal).

A common mistake non-French speakers will make is to directly translate the phrase and say "Je te manque." However, this means "You miss me," and not "I miss you." 

Goodnight: Bonne soirée, or bonne nuit

Useful French sayings for travelers 

Do you speak English: Parlez-vous l'anglais ? (formal) Tu parles l'anglais ? (informal)

How to order: To order in a restaurant, use the phrase "je voudrais" (I would like), along with whatever you want to order: une bière (a beer), un steak (a steak), un verre de vin (a glass of wine), and of course add a "s'il vous plaît."

I'm lost/where is?: Je suis perdu(e), adding an e if you identify as female. Où est le musée du Louvre ? (Where is the Louvre?)

How much is: Combien coûte...? For example, combien coûte cette robe ? (How much is this dress?)

Phrases to win the hearts of French people

J'adore Paris: I love Paris.

Vive la république et vive la France !: Long live democracy and long live France!

La cuisine française est la meilleure du monde: French food is the best in the world.

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