How to Speak French When I Travel in French

i travel in french

Learning basic French phrases can make travel much more enjoyable, from requesting tables to inquiring about prices for items, these essential French phrases should become part of your traveling arsenal.

An effective introduction with locals is also crucial, so learn how to say, Un grand plaisir (A great pleasure), in order to introduce yourself and meet potential friends!


Traveling in France requires knowing how to properly greet people; French culture values politeness highly and will likely take offense if you approach someone without first greeting them first.

Bonjour is the single most essential French phrase you need to learn, used in almost all situations imaginable – doormen, shop workers and waiters are sure to greet you with “bonjour”, while it should also be used when greeting your neighbors and meeting new acquaintances in your apartment complex. Additionally, using it when saying goodbye at night could prove particularly useful.

Quoi de neuf (what’s new?) is another useful French greeting to be aware of, although this informal phrase should only be used with close friends and acquaintances. It translates to either “What’s up?” or “What’s happening?”.

Au revoir is an official way of bidding goodbye, often used when leaving work environments or more formal environments such as when meeting strangers or saying goodbye to shopkeepers when leaving their stores.

If you prefer more informal ways of saying goodbye, consider saying coucou or chere instead. These phrases are suitable for use with friends and acquaintances; they should only be used in more formal environments if intended to be playful or casual.


No matter if you are buying a metro ticket or hailing a taxi, knowing basic French travel phrases will come in handy. These will also come in handy when asking friends about their commutes or even when needing information like when a line has been suspended due to maintenance.

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Public transportation can be an efficient option in large cities. When answering the question “Comment je vais a la Station _____, S’il vous plait?” (How Can I Reach Station _____?) you must be knowledgeable with both local metro words as well as specific bus and train terms like un transport and le train (buses being un transport, trains being le train), vehicle names beginning with either la or les (feminine or masculine respectively).

Traveling outside urban areas? Local buses offer an economical alternative to the overcrowded SNCF railway lines; especially useful in rural areas with limited or no rail service. Long distance trips can also be undertaken using le train a grande vitesse (TGV).

France may present challenging environments for visiteurs a mobilite reduite (visitors with reduced mobility), yet significant strides have been taken towards improving accessibility. Many accessible transport services such as wheelchair rentals or adapted taxis are now available – to ensure you’re treated fairly. When using these, make sure to ask the driver for a placard declaring their presence so you’re met with understanding and consideration.


French culture may not be known for providing superior customer service, yet by following some longstanding conventions it will make shopping with them simpler. When entering any store it is customary to greet sales staff with a polite “bonjour monsieur or madame”, which they will likely respond positively to. They are then more than willing to help assist with any purchases you might wish to make.

When inquiring about stock or prices, ask “quo’est-ce que vous recherchez?” (pronounced shes CHEESE art) and the shop assistant will be more than willing to assist. Alternatively, simply browsing is acceptable using “je regarde uniquement (zher RAH-mon). Window shopping (leche vitrine; leh vit-reen) is another fantastic way of practicing French while collecting souvenirs for loved ones back home!

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When making any purchases from shops or pharmacies, it is vital that you verify whether they accept foreign currencies. Ask “is-ce qu’ils acceptent les cartes etrangres?” (say shes KAH-roo-nay), to save yourself any embarrassment at discovering that they no longer accept credit cards at checkout. The same is true of restaurants you may visit.

At the Airport

At an airport, French vocabulary is crucial to reaching your destination. For instance, knowing how to communicate with taxi drivers will enable you to hail them and give directions; additionally you will require knowing specific words relating to checking-in for flights; should your flight be cancelled there are additional terms you should know that allow for communication with airline and airport staff members.

At an airport, it is crucial that you know all of the essential words and phrases you will need for your journey. These could include what your travel plans are when asked by others; additionally, when meeting new people it is polite to introduce yourself as well as your home country and introduce yourself first before initiating conversation.

When speaking French with others, it can be useful to use the phrase: parler plus lentement, s’il vous plait (please speak more slowly) when necessary. This phrase helps your conversation partner realize they’re speaking too fast for you and helps them adjust their pace accordingly. In France this practice isn’t considered rude; many will happily adjust their speed accordingly.

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