If you are thinking of studying French with one of our Eurocentres Language Schools, there are words and sentences that you will have to memorise before coming to make your journey easier.
This is why we decided to prepare a list: 8 essential French sentences for travellers.
1. Bonjour – “Hello”
There are many ways in French to say “hello”, but bonjour is definitely the most well-known. If you want to look more like a native, you can say “salut” which is more casual; it means “hi” or “bye”. Bonjour is a combination of the words bon (“good”) and jour (“day”). In the evening, you could also say bonsoir (“good evening”).
2. Comment allez-vous ? – “How are you?”
It is the polite way of saying “how are you?” in French. It is very common to say “ça va ?” in French which is also “how are you?”. It is informal but you will hear it a lot in France.If someone asks you “ça va ?”, you can simply respond: “ça va bien” it means “it's going well”.
3. Oui/Non – “Yes/No”
Two essential words to learn in any languages are “yes” and “no”. In French, “yes” is oui and “no” is non. Informally, it's also common to say ouais or ouaip instead of oui – like saying “yeah” or “yep” in English.
4. S'il vous plaît / s'il te plaît – “Please”
As a tourist, the last thing you want to seem is "rude" in France. So always say “s’il vous plaît” while making a request. In French, we have two ways of saying “you” that is why we have two versions of saying “please”. You = “tu” or “vous”, we also use “vous” while speaking to a group of people; it is similar of saying “you guys”. How to know which one to use? S’il vous plaît, is mainly used when speaking to someone you do not know or an older person. It is more formal and polite. S’il te plaît, is used mainly when speaking to one of your friend or a family member. It is more colloquial.
5. Excusez-moi – “Excuse me”
To get someone's attention, whether they are a waiter in a restaurant or a stranger on the street, say “excusez-moi”, “excuse me”. This is also the polite way to ask someone to get out of your way. For example, if you are trying to exit a crowded metro, “excusez” will be very helpful.
6. Où est…? – “Where is…?”
You will probably struggle to find your way around, the easiest way to ask for directions is to say “Où est … ?”“X” could be many things: la Tour Eiffel, le Louvre, Notre Dame… or perhaps something less exotic, like le metro or un restaurant.
7. Je ne comprends pas – “I don’t understand”
Sometimes saying “pardon” is not enough. If you really cannot figure out what the other person is saying, try telling them “je ne comprends pas” – “I don't understand”. There's no shame in being a beginner! Just remember not to fall back to English when the going gets tough. If you don't understand something, persevere in French anyway – it's the only way you'll learn.
8. Merci beaucoup – “Thanks a lot”
And of course, do not forget to thank people who will help you! The French word for “thank you” is merci – or you can make it stronger by saying “merci beaucoup” – “thanks very much”.