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10 Essential French Phrases for Travelers Heading to Paris

Apr 23, 2024

Heading to Paris for the first time? Excited to immerse yourself in the charm of the City of Light? Whether you're exploring the iconic landmarks, indulging in delicious cuisine, or strolling along the picturesque streets, having a few essential French phrases up your sleeve can enhance your travel experience and make communication with locals a breeze. In this guide, we'll cover 10 must-know French phrases that every traveler should master before visiting Paris.

1. Bonjour (bohn-zhoor) - Hello

Starting your day in Paris with a warm "Bonjour" is not just polite, but it's also a common courtesy in French culture. Whether you're greeting a shopkeeper, a waiter, or a passerby on the street, "Bonjour" is the perfect way to start any interaction on a positive note.

2. Merci (mehr-see) - Thank you

Expressing gratitude is essential, especially when receiving assistance or service. Whether you're thanking a server in a café, a tour guide, or someone who held the door open for you, a sincere "Merci" goes a long way in showing appreciation.

3. S'il vous plaît (seel voo pleh) - Please

Adding "S'il vous plaît" to your requests adds a touch of politeness and respect. Whether you're ordering food in a restaurant, asking for directions, or requesting assistance, incorporating "S'il vous plaît" into your sentences demonstrates your consideration for others.

4. Parlez-vous anglais ? (par-leh voo ahn-gleh) - Do you speak English?

While many Parisians speak English, it's always polite to inquire first before launching into a conversation in English. "Parlez-vous anglais ?" allows you to gauge the person's language proficiency and ensures smoother communication.

5. Où est... ? (oo eh) - Where is...?

Lost in the winding streets of Paris? Need to find the nearest metro station or a famous landmark? "Où est...?" is your go-to phrase for asking directions. Simply insert the name of the place you're looking for, such as "Où est la Tour Eiffel ?" (Where is the Eiffel Tower?)

6. Combien ça coûte ? (kohm-byen sah koot) - How much does it cost?

Exploring Paris's vibrant markets and boutiques? Use "Combien ça coûte ?" to inquire about prices before making a purchase. Whether you're shopping for souvenirs, clothing, or delicious pastries, knowing how to ask about prices will help you make informed decisions.

7. L'addition, s'il vous plaît (lah-dee-syon seel voo pleh) - The check, please

Finished your meal at a cozy Parisian café? Ready to settle the bill? Use "L'addition, s'il vous plaît" to request the check from your server. This phrase ensures a smooth and hassle-free end to your dining experience.

8. Je voudrais... (zhuh voo-dray) - I would like...

When ordering food or drinks in Parisian cafés and restaurants, "Je voudrais..." is your key phrase for indicating your preferences. Simply follow it with the item you wish to order, such as "Je voudrais un café au lait" (I would like a café au lait) or "Je voudrais une baguette, s'il vous plaît" (I would like a baguette, please).

9. Excusez-moi (eks-kew-zay mwa) - Excuse me

Navigating crowded streets and bustling attractions in Paris can sometimes require a bit of maneuvering. Use "Excusez-moi" to politely excuse yourself when squeezing past others or trying to get someone's attention.

10. Au revoir (oh ruh-vwahr) - Goodbye

As your day in Paris comes to a close, bid farewell with a friendly "Au revoir." Whether you're leaving a restaurant, a shop, or saying goodbye to new friends you've met along the way, "Au revoir" is the perfect way to end your interactions on a positive note.


By mastering these 10 essential French phrases, you'll not only enhance your travel experience in Paris but also connect with locals in a meaningful way. So go ahead, practice these phrases, and immerse yourself in the magic of Parisian culture and hospitality! Bon voyage!

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