Most useful French phrases for travel in France (AUDIO)

Written by Diane on. Posted in on life in France

Most useful French phrases for travel in France

Hello and happy New Year! Let’s start 2016 off with something useful!

When traveling to a country where your native tongue isn’t spoken, the language barrier can be a major hurdle. Two of the most frustrating things? Expressing yourself as well as not understanding what is being said to you. A relaxing, stress-free trip can get very stressful when you’re not able to communicate, so to help you out, I’ve put together some of the most useful French phrases and words for travel in France — with audio, of course (thanks Tom!).

GO!

Most useful French phrases for travel in France

Even the most talkative and friendly traveler can be silenced when one’s lexicon in the local language is nonexistent. Don’t let that be you!

First, before approaching a stranger and asking them a question, always start with a “Bonjour” at a bare minimum. It’s probably best to throw in “Excusez-moi” too.

And if you’re interrupting someone who is busy working, eating or otherwise unavailable, it’s best to be extra polite and say “Bonjour, desolé de vous déranger mais…” (Hi, sorry to bother you but…) and then ask your question. After the person has attempted to help, be sure to thank them with a “Merci, beaucoup, bonne journée!” Trust me, politeness goes a long way. Below I’ve used all polite forms of phrases and questions.

Here are some of the most useful French phrases that will come in handy when traveling in France. This is by no means a comprehensive list and is just a starting off point. Write ’em down, learn ’em and keep ’em in your back pocket for when the perfect situation arises. Then show off your French skills like a boss! Or at least be happy someone understood you!

Click the triangle icon under each phrase for the audio (me saying the word in English and Tom saying the French equivalent) — because what good are phrases in a foreign language if you have no idea how they’re supposed to sound?

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basic french phrases

Basic phrases

Hello / Bonjour

Goodbye / Au revoir

Thank you / Merci

Sorry / Désolé(e)

You’re welcome / Je vous en prie (or De rien)

Excuse me /Excusez-moi

Do you speak English? / Parlez-vous anglais ?

I don’t speak French / Je ne parle pas français

Could you please speak more slowly? / Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement s’il vous plaît ?

Where is the restroom? / Où sont les toilettes ?

What time is it? / Quelle heure est-il ?

I’d like… / Je voudrais…

45 Things an American in France thinks when visiting for the first time >>

st emilion france view

When traveling

Where is (gate 42)…? / Où est la porte d’embarquement 42 ?

I am on the train / Je suis dans le train

I need to change my reservation / Je dois changer ma réservation (mon billet)

We are going to be late (early) / Nous allons être en retard (en avance)

We arrive at 10 o’clock / Nous arrivons à 10 heures

What time are we arriving? / A quelle heure arrivons-nous ?

I need a taxi / J’ai besoin d’un taxi (Je dois prendre un taxi)

Where is the train station? / Où est la gare ?

Where is the airport? / Où est l’aéroport ?

To the train station (airport) please! / A la gare (l’aéroport) s’il vous plaît !

Go right / left / straight / Allez (prenez) à droite/à gauche/tout droit

french phrases shopping in france

When shopping

How much is… ? / Combien coûte… ?

It’s too big / C’est trop gros

It’s too small / C’est trop petit

I like it / J’aime ça

I don’t like it / Je n’aime pas ça

Do you have these in size 39? / Est-ce que vous les avez en 39 ?

french phrases for restaurant

When at a restaurant

To go / A emporter

We’d like a table for 2 please / Une table pour deux s’il vous plait (Nous voudrions une table pour deux s’il vous plait)

Do you have a menu in English? / Avez-vous un menu en Anglais ?

I’d like another glass of wine please! / Je voudrais un autre verre de vin s’il vous plaît !

I’m allergic to dairy. Is there any in this dish? / Je suis allergique aux produits laitiers. Est-ce qu’il y en a dans ce plat ?

It was excellent! / C’était excellent (délicieux)

Check, please! / L’addition, s’il vous plait !

socializing french phrases

When socializing

Hey! (also “see ya”, when leaving) / Salut !

How are you? / Comment allez-vous ? (Comment vas-tu ? / Comment ça va ?)

What’s up? / Quoi de neuf ?

Where are you from? / D’où venez-vous ? (d’ou viens-tu ?)

I’m from the United States / Je viens des Etats-Unis

I’m American / Je suis américain(e)

Are you hungry? / Est-ce que vous avez faim ? (est-ce que tu as faim ?)

Want to grab a drink? / Vous voulez prendre un verre ? (tu veux prendre un verre ?)

French pharmacy medicines

When you’re sick

I am sick / Je suis malade

My head hurts / J’ai mal à la tête

I’m nauseous / J’ai la nausée (j’ai mal au coeur)

I vomited / J’ai vomi

I need to see a doctor / J’ai besoin de voir un médecin (Je dois voir un médecin)

I need to go to the hospital / Je dois aller à l’hôpital

Call an ambulance! / Appelez une ambulance ! (Appelle une ambulance !)

Where is the pharmacy? / Où est la pharmacie ?

Help me please /Aidez-moi, s’il vous plait !/ Au secours!

***

With a little practice, your ability to bust out these French phrases will boost your confidence the next time you’re speaking to a French person. So get to it! Anything you’d like to add? Talk to me in the comments!

If you found this even remotely helpful, would you mind sharing please?

Lou Messugo

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Comments (17)

  • fiona

    |

    Great post Diane and good advice about interrupting someone. Last year in SuperU I asked an assistant (who was stacking shelves) where the batteries were. I started with ‘Excusez-moi Monsieur’ (at home I would just say ‘excuse me’ ) He very pointedly replied with ‘Bonjour Madame’, I felt very rude and now try to remember to always use Bonjour before an enquiry.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you! Yes, so true about the bonjour before saying anything else. I think sometimes people can be very goal focused — get the answer to your question and move on. But in France it seems like kids are taught that politeness is obligatory so I’m sure Americans launching right into a question can seem off-putting. Sometimes I forget the bonjour and right away I realize my error, so I kind of fake cough and say it again haha.

      Reply

  • Joy

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    Love your blog. Today was great! Your husband did a great job of taking words apart to hear.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you, so glad you enjoyed it, and I’ll let Tom know! He was nervous recording everything!

      Reply

    • Diane

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      Great to hear, thanks so much!

      Reply

  • Marty

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    This was one of your best so far! Like having a mini translator guide with audio. Well done!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you, glad you found it useful!

      Reply

  • Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

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    Starting with “bonjour” is just about the most important tip for any interaction with a stranger in French. A really useful post Diane, thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted…Sunday Photo – 10 January 2016My Profile

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yup, I always tell people even if you don’t know any other words or are too embarrassed to try, ALWAYS start any interaction with bonjour. Makes a good first impression! Thanks for hosting the linkup!

      Reply

  • Sampson

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    Very helpful. Merci Beaucoup!!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’re very welcome!

      Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you for checking out the post. So glad you found it useful!

      Reply

  • Frederic

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    French are known for their lack of patience and quick exasperation, but if you know the right words to approach them you’re off with a positive and happy response. As you have mentioned above, Politeness is the #1 rule.
    Great post, should come in handy for many foreign travelers in France!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thanks so much, Frederic! I hope you’ll consider sharing this post on your FB page. I’m sure your community would find it helpful. 😉

      Reply

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