French Phrases to Help You Travel in France

An understanding of French phrases is vital when traveling through France or any of its French-speaking neighbours. A basic knowledge can help make an impressive first impression and build rapport with locals.

Simple greetings such as, “How are you?” are easy ways to say hello and address anyone speaking too quickly. Additionally, polite requests such as, “Please speak more slowly, if that would be okay with you”, can let them know they need to slow down their speech pace.

Basic greetings and introductions

No matter the purpose of their travels, all travelers should possess some key French phrases that will make their experience much smoother and demonstrate that they are considerate guests. Knowing these essential French phrases will not only facilitate travel but will demonstrate that you are courteous and considerate visitor.

One of the most crucial phrases to learn is bonjour, or hello. This should be your opening statement when meeting anyone, even those who do not speak your language. Also remember to say this when entering any type of store – such as bakeries or grocery stores where employees should greet each customer even if you do not require assistance immediately – even if no assistance is required from them right then. You could follow this up with something like, “C’est bien aujourd’hui!” for added effect!

When introducing yourself in France, the standard form is to use vous – which refers to those whom you consider higher in social standing than yourself – when speaking with people outside of friendship groups; otherwise it would be more appropriate to use casual terms such as tu or ti. Coucou, similar to “Hey Babe!” is sometimes appropriate but cannot be used at work or school settings. If in doubt about which form to use when meeting new people; ask the conversation partner directly or look online for examples.

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Asking for directions

If you find yourself lost in a foreign country, being able to ask for directions can be challenging but achievable with practice. First and foremost, learn “excusez-moi” (excuse me), as this polite gesture will increase chances that people are willing to assist you. After this you can use “ou est?” followed by the name of the place that needs finding.

An alternative approach is to say, “Est-ce que c’est?” (“Is It?”). This statement allows you to ensure you are asking for directions to the correct location; for instance if you were looking for the FNAC bookstore in Paris then this phrase could help ensure you locate it quickly and correctly. For example if searching for directions you could say: “Est-ce qu’il y a un FNAC pres de here?”

Finally, “aller” (go) can also be used to get directions. For instance, saying “aller jusqu’a _____” (go until you reach _____). However, this method only works well if you know all of the streets in an area’s names; otherwise you must use other phrases or ask another way. For more information about asking directions check out FrenchPod101’s helpful guide with vocabulary words for directions as well as helpful phrases and verbs – plus their free resources such as podcasts and quizzes which further your learning.

Asking for information

As part of your trip to France, knowing some French travel phrases is invaluable for gathering the information that makes your stay so much more pleasurable. Be it directions, menu items or pricing questions; having access to this knowledge will only enhance your trip and enhance its enjoyment!

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Though some French people may respond to your English queries (or, worse yet, speak no English whatsoever), most locals will be more than willing to provide you with the information that you require. Just remember to brush up on your French numbers (such as seven euros fifty cents or sept euros cinquante before visiting a market so you understand the charges for items such as fresh produce, cheeses, meats, wines and bread.

No list of travel phrases would be complete without discussing how to ask about your ride, whether by bus, train or taxi. Knowing the appropriate terms to ask about schedules and costs will ensure a seamless journey experience.

Asking for help

As part of any travel experience, asking politely for assistance in French can be invaluable. This skill can especially come in handy when travelling with people who only speak English or need directions from locals. To ask for help in French simply ask pouvez-vous m’aider? (Can You Help Me?) and wait patiently for their response.

Learn the language well so you can effectively request information, from what type of transportation to the costs involved in something. At a Metro station, for instance, ask “ou se trouve la station de metro la plus proche? (“Where is the closest metro stop?”) in order to locate yourself. At an guichet ticket booth you should tell employees “je voudrais un billet aller simple/retour pour X” (“I would like a one-way or round-trip ticket for X”).

Be wary of accepting too much help from strangers in France – this may be a scam in disguise where someone pretends to help but instead wants your money. If someone approaches you speaking English it is likely that they are trying to scam you.

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