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25 Phrases and Facts to Know Before Going to France

Updated on August 1, 2013
Le  drapeau tricolore. (The French Flag)
Le drapeau tricolore. (The French Flag)

Parlez-Vous Français?

French is a beautiful language. It is also a difficult language. If you're planning on travelling to a french speaking country, want to talk to foreign relatives, or just want to learn more about the world around you, it will not only help to be able to say some basic phrases, but to have some understanding of their culture. In this article, you'll find 25 key facts and phrases that will help you get a better understanding of the French language and people.

Pronunciation Note

The phrases below each have guides in bold to aid in the pronunciation of the words, some of which are rather complex. Everything in the pronunciation guide should be read as if it were an English word. Some French sounds are not present in English, such as the French "J," which is represented with the letters "zh."

General Conversation

1. Hello/Goodbye- Bonjour (Bon-zh-or)/ Au Revoir (oh-rev-waar)

2. Yes/No- Oui (we) / Non (No)

3. How are you?

In formal settings- Comment allez-vous? (calm-uh-tall-ay-vue)

In casual contexts- Ça va (Saw-Vaw)

4. Thank-You

Merci (Mare-See)

5. Sorry, I don't speak French

Désolé, Je ne parlé pas la français.

(Day-sole-ay, je nuh par-lay paw la fron-say)

Monsieur. Not garcon.
Monsieur. Not garcon.


6. I would like...- Je voudrais


7. Some Pizza/Ice-Cream/Fish-Du Pizza (Due Pea-za)/La glace (La gl-ahs)/Du Poisson (Due Pwah-Sohn)

8. Note: The french words for "fish" and "poison" are extremely similar. (Poisson means fish, Poison means poison.) Be very careful when ordering fish in a restaurant, especially if your waiter doesn't like you.

9. This/That -Ce. (Suh)

10. Waiter!/Waitress- Monsieur (Miss-Yeur)/ Mademoiselle (Mad-Mwah-Zelle)

11. A Coca-Cola, Please- Un Coca-Cola, Sil Vous Plait (Un Coca-Cola Sil-Vue-Play)

12. I'd like a glass/bottle of... red wine/white wine/champagne/apple juice

Je voudrais un verre/bouteille rouge/vin blanc/champagne/jus de pomme

(Zhe vu-dray un vair/bwat-yay duh...van rouge/van blonc/champange/zhu duh pom)

13. Another Very Important Note: A number of guide books, especially older ones, say to call a waiter "Garçon." This, however, is extremely rude, as "Garçon" is french for "Boy." Would you ever call a waiter "boy" in America? Hopefully not. The point is, no matter what your phrase book says, don't call a waiter that name. After, all, they handle your food.

A combination boulangerie and patisserie. This bakery sells both bread and sweets.
A combination boulangerie and patisserie. This bakery sells both bread and sweets.


14. Do You Have Any...- Avez Vous... (Aw-vay-vue...)

15. Note: The phrase "Avez Vous" is extremely versatile. It can be used to ask if something is sold in a store or served in a restaurant. It can also be used to ask if someone has possession of something. In a store you can also use...

16. Do you sell... Achetez-Vous...(Ash-ette-ay-vue)

17. How much is it? -C'est combein? (Say-Calm-Bee-En)

18. I like it/ I don't like it- J'aime ca./ (Zham-Sah)/(Je n'aime pas ca) (Zhuh nam paw sah)

19. I would like to buy this-Je voudrais acheter ce./(Zhe vu-dray ash-uh-tay suh)

My hovercraft is full of eels!
My hovercraft is full of eels!

Good Phrases To Know (Just In Case)

20. Excuse me, where are the restrooms?- Excusez-moi, Où sont les toilettes?

(Ex-cuse-ay-moi, ou sont luh twal-ettes?)

21. Note: The french don't use the word restroom, they ask specifically about the location of the toilets, as there are washrooms in France which lack toilets.

22. I'd like a table for two, please

- Je voudrais un table pour deux, sil vous plait.

(Zhe vue-dray un tab-luh-pour-duh, sil-vue-play)

23. Sir, I don't know what to order. Please bring me something delicious.

Monsieur, Je ne se pas quoi je voudrais. Apportez-moi queleque chose delicieux.

(Miss-yur, zhe nuh say paw qwah zhe vou-dray. Don-nay mwah kel-koo-shows-del-ish-eur, sil vue play.)

24. Help me! I need a doctor!-Aidez-moi! J'ai besoin un médecin!

(Aid-ay-mwah! Zhay bes-swan-uh-made-ee-seen)

25. My hovercraft is full of eels.- Mon aéroglisseur, c'est plein de anguilles.

(Mon arrow-gliss-eur, say- plon-duh-on-gwills)


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    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      Very interesting but I doubt that I will ever get the opportunity to go back there.