Bonjour! The Essential French Phrases You’ll Need During Your Paris Vacation

paris vacation

You don’t have to be fluent in French in order to have a wonderful Paris vacation; knowing some basic words and phrases, though, will allow you to make the most of your trip.
Basic Greetings
It’s not necessary to speak French perfectly before vacationing in Paris, but these basic greetings are very important to keep in mind!

  • Bonjour, s’il vous plaît… Hello, please…
    Expert tip: This is an important part of the French language and it’s considered the best way to open an conversation or ask a question.

  • Parlez-vous anglais? Do you speak English?
    Expert tip: If you have a complicated question or if you aren’t sure how to say something properly, this question is probably the best way to initiate a conversation in English.

  • Oui/Non Yes/No

  • Excusez-moi, Madame/ Monsieur Excuse me, madam/sir.

  • Je ne comprends pas. I do not understand.

  • Comment dit-on … en français? How do you say … in French?

  • Merci beaucoup! Thank you very much!

Navigating Paris
There are 20 different districts in Paris called arrondissements, and these are arranged in a spiral (creating an effect of a seashell!). It can be a little tricky to navigate these neighborhoods at first, but you’ll find that many Parisians are more than happy to help you out if you ask politely!

  • Où est-ce que je peux trouver un plan de la ville? Where can I find a city map?
    Expert tip: Many people enjoy walking through the city because there are simply so many beautiful buildings and unique shops. In fact, tourists easily walk up to 10 miles a day when visiting cities like Paris!

  • Où est…? Where is…?

  • Je cherche… I am looking for…
    Expert tip: These two phrases are very useful and can be completed with a specific location (Où est le Louvre?) or a general place (Je cherche un café.). If you’re looking for a bathroom, your best bet is to order something from a cafe (you’ll pay about $2-3 for a drink) and use their facilities.

Eating Out
Between the pastries, elegant entrees, and magnificent wines, Parisian cuisine is something that will certainly be a highlight of your Paris vacation!

  • La carte, s’il vous plaît? (May we/I have) a menu, please?

  • Où sont les toilettes, s’il vous plaît? Where is the restroom, please?
    Expert tip: Restrooms may be labelled as “toilettes” or as “WC,” standing for “water closet.”

  • Avez-vous un ménu en anglais? Do you have a menu in English?

  • Je voudrais …, s’il vous plaît. I would please like…
    Expert tip: When ordering a meal from restaurants in Paris, remember to ask about regional wine selections. Wine tourism is a huge industry in France, and it’s estimated that around 24 million people visit the country simply for a delicious drink.

  • L’addition, s’il vous plaît? Check, please?

Remember, politeness is never something to overlook when you’re visiting France; a simple greeting, such as bonjour, or saying s’il vous plaît, can make a huge difference in your conversations! With over 16.06 million visitors in 2015 alone, Paris is a very vibrant city. Whether you’re looking for a busy winter vacation or a calming summer vacation, you’ll definitely find yourself planning for your next Paris vacation — before you even leave the city!

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