French Phrases to Know Before You Go

It’s always a good idea to learn at least a few phrases of the local language when you’re visiting a foreign country. I’ve found that making an effort to speak someone’s language (even if it’s just a few words) usually goes a long way–this is especially true in France.

It’s also a good idea for safety reasons if you find yourself in need of a doctor or need to ask someone for help. Sometimes guidebooks can overdo it with the list of words and phrases you “need” to know, so below I’ve included a summary of the phrases and words I was most likely to use when traveling through France and not knowing much of the language. I’d recommend trying to memorize some of the words, but creating a cheat sheet for yourself (or printing this out) is also useful to glance at before you order dinner or to keep on hand in case of an emergency.


  1. Bonjour Hello
  2. Bonsoir – Good evening
  3. Au revoir – Goodbye


  1. Merci Thank you
  2. Merci Beaucoup – Thank you very much
  3. S’il vous plaît – Please
  4. Oui – Yes
  5. Non – No
  6. Pardon – Pardon me
  7. Exusez-moi – Excuse me/Sorry!
  8. De rien – You’re welcome
  9. Parlez-vous anglais? Do you speak English?
  10. Je suis désolé. Je parle un peu françaiss. Parlez vous anglais? – I’m sorry. I speak a little French. Do you speak English?
  11. Je parle un peu français I speak a little French


  1. Le metro – Subway
  2. Le train – Train
  3. Le bus – Bus
  4. L’aeroport – Airport
  5. Le taxi – Taxi
  6. Bon voyage – Have a nice trip


  1. Ou est-ce qu’on peut trouver des restaurants, s’il vous plaît?Where are there some restaurants, please?  
  2. l’hôtel – Hotel
  3. BancJe cherche un distributeur de billets. I’m looking for an ATM
  4. Ou sont les toilettes, s’il vous plaît? Where is the bathroom?
  5. Combien ça coûte?How much is it?


Numbers: Un (1), deux (2), trois (3), quatre (4), cinq (5), six (6), sept (7), huit (8), neuf (9), dix (10)

Days of the week: lundi (Monday), mardi  (Tuesday), mercredi  (Wednesday), jeudi (Thursday), vendredi (Friday), samedi (Saturday), dimanche (Sunday)


  1. L’addition s’il vous plait – Check, please
  2. C’était délicieux/très bon – It was delicious
  3. Avez-vous une suggestion/une spécialité? – Do you have a suggestion/specialty
  4. Qu’est-ce que vous recommandez? – What would you recommend?
  5. Quelle est la spécialité du jour? – What is today’s special?
  6. Le café – Coffee
  7. Le thé – Tea
  8. L’eau – Water
  9. Le vin – Wine
  10. Le digestif – After-dinner drink
  11. La carte – Menu


  1. Pouvez-vous m’aider – Can you help me?
  2. Je cherche l’hôpital – I’m looking for the hospital
  3. Appelez une ambulance, vite! Call an ambulance, quick!

What else would you add to the list?

Happy Travels!

xo, Jenny

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