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 are 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.
To help you out, I’ve put together some of the most common French words and phrases for travel to France — with audio, of course (thanks Tom!) because pronunciation is everything.
GO read my basic French words and phrases for travel
Basic French words and phrases with pronunciation for your France trip
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 and learn my basic French words and phrases before you go!
First, a quick primer on French etiquette. Before approaching a stranger and asking them a question, always start with a “Bonjour” at a bare minimum. Bonjour really is a magic word in France and I explain why here. It’s probably best to throw in “Excusez-moi” too.
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 and these basic French words and phrases will come in handy.
Below I’ve used all formal/polite (vous) forms of phrases and questions.
Regarding my list of basic French words and phrases, 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 all of my French phrases for travel for the audio (me saying the word in English and Tom saying the French equivalent) — because what good are travel phrases in a foreign language if you have no idea how they’re supposed to sound?
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Basic French words and phrases for travel with pronunciation
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…
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When traveling in France
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
When shopping in France
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 ?
When at a restaurant in France
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 !
When socializing in France
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 ?)
When you’re sick in France
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 basic French words and phrases will skyrocket 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 about the most common French words for travel!
If you found my list of basic French words and phrases for travel helpful, would you mind sharing please?
PIN my basic French words for travel POST:
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.
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.
Love your blog. Today was great! Your husband did a great job of taking words apart to hear.
Thank you, so glad you enjoyed it, and I’ll let Tom know! He was nervous recording everything!
Thank you I found this to be interesting
Great to hear, thanks so much!
This was one of your best so far! Like having a mini translator guide with audio. Well done!
Thank you, glad you found it useful!
Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says
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
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!
Very helpful. Merci Beaucoup!!
You’re very welcome!
Jill Barth says
What a handy tool! This is so easy to use — a great brush up before a trip to France!
Thank you for checking out the post. So glad you found it useful!
This is great and so useful! Bises from #allaboutfrance
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!
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. 😉
I was on Reunion Island where I took french courses at DP Langues and I really recommand it my experience there was amazing !
Carol Lutz says
Merci beaucoup! So helpful!
Stumbled across this post on Pinterest—a great summary! I’m requiring my kids to learn a little French before their first trip to Paris this summer, and I’ll use this to help. Thanks!
You’re very welcome! So glad it was helpful!