We have shown you some of the best locations to visit in France; from luxury campsites in the South of France to the best things to do when visiting Paris. There is so much to explore in this beautiful country that truly you will be spoilt for choice. And wherever you are headed, one thing that will give your holiday experience the edge is if you take a little French with you. Here are some basics to get you by.
Greetings and simple beginnings in French
Bonjour and comment ça va (hello and how are you) are a great way to start a conversation. Oui and non (yes and no) are useful no matter what you are doing. Excusez-moi (excuse me) will get someone’s attention and où est… means where is, so if you have an app to hand with the words for the things you don’t yet know, you can get directions to just about anywhere!
Speaking of directions, gauche, droite, and tout droit (left, right, and straight ahead) will be useful, as will à côté de (next to) — though only if you know a few names of other places like banks (banque), pharmacies (pharmacie), bakeries (boulangerie), and so on. These can get complicated sometimes, so check out France Pub to practice your directions before you go!
Common French phrases for a little conversation
If you want to make some acquaintances when you travel, introducing yourself can be a great start. Je suis… followed by your name will do just that, followed by a simple je viens de… (I’m from…). If you want to ask the question you can either say d’où êtes-vous? or just et vous? (and you) — remember this, because this makes any question or enquiry easier instead of knowing the complete sentence to use! Thoughtco has some great resources to get the hang of the first few phrases in French.
S’il vous plaît and merci (please and thank you) are necessities, and if you’re looking for niceties as conversation starters you can always fall back on the weather. Il fait beau means it’s nice out, which hopefully your weather will be! Replace beau with froid (cold), chaud (hot), or moche (bad) accordingly, using très (very) to emphasize.
French dining phrases
Since trying new cuisines is one of the most joyous parts of any holiday, knowing a little vocabulary can only give you a head start. La carte means the menu, and l’addition the bill. Qu’est-ce que vous conseillez? will tell you what the staff themselves recommend. Use Je ne peux pas manger… to say what foods you can’t eat even if you have to show them a picture of what you’re meaning. Je voudrais… means I would like, and again, if you aren’t sure of the words of the dishes you can point.
C’est trop… means ‘it’s too’, and you can follow that up with the words for hot and cold suggested earlier, or anything else you need; coûteux (expensive) or épicé (spicy) might come in handy when you are ordering a meal. And don’t forget your pleases and thank yous whatever you are ordering!
Of course, if you get really stuck, you can say désolé, je ne parle pas français (sorry, I don’t speak French) or ask parlez vous anglais? (do you speak English). If you are looking to learn more than a few phrases, check out Language Trainers, I found they can help you get a good handle on the language before you travel. Whether you are visiting France for a year or a day, learning French is a wonderful skill and we promise, even just a few French words will change your entire travel experience!