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French Etiquette: 7 Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting France

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But what is it they do, now that eating in horizontal position while watching gladiators fight has gone out of style? I must confess I don’t know, just as you may not know what the French are doing in France. Now you may be wondering, “So, what is French etiquette?” Luckily, I can help with that!

French etiquette and table manners aren’t things you can improvise. Dining etiquette, for instance, varies wildly from one country to the next, and French dining etiquette rules have the reputation of being quite rigorous.

To be fair, there are some misconceptions and many exaggerations out there about the importance of social etiquette in France. If you believe everything you read, you probably think we’re still wearing wigs and tights, and that you could go to prison for placing your fork on the wrong side of the plate.

The truth is: It all depends on what you’re doing in France and who you socialize with. French rules of etiquette are obviously not the same in the Kebab joint on the corner of the street as those at the fancy Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée where you can’t enter without a suit and a tie.

In this guide, we’ll simply cover the daily interactions of someone visiting or living in the country: Basic French etiquette. From French restaurant etiquette, to French etiquette rules for public transport, French business etiquette tips, or how to act in the shops. Stick with me and you’ll learn how to behave like a French gentleman with proper French etiquette in no time!

Table of Contents

  1. Around the Table: Etiquette in French Dining
  2. French Etiquette and Manners in Public Places
  3. French Greetings and Etiquette: Greeting People
  4. French Etiquette Tips When Visiting People
  5. French Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for Public Transports
  6. Proper French Etiquette in a Shop
  7. French Etiquette in Business: Conducting Business
  8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

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1. Around the Table: Etiquette in French Dining

Thanks

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to see the French dining étiquette making it first on the list. We do indeed have a lot of table rules: some of them are carefully taught by our parents, others are unspoken and wrongfully considered obvious.

But this isn’t especially a French obsession. Displaying good manners around the table matters all around the world, and France is by no means an exception.

I won’t waste your time on the countless French table etiquette rules that—as subjective as they are—are more about common sense than local customs, such as:

  • Don’t forget to compliment your host on their cooking skills, and if the food is gross, don’t be too vocal about it.
  • Don’t splash sauce all over yourself or the tablecloth.
  • You should refrain from stealing the silverware or sticking your fork in anybody’s eye.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s jump right into our Do’s and Don’ts around the French table!

  • Don’t
    Don’t start eating or drinking before everyone is served.

As trivial as it may sound (even to me, although I was raised by these standards), this one is a big deal!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a burger joint or a many-stars restaurant, with friends, family, or business associates. It’s considered polite to wait until everyone is served before you start eating.

At home, you can speed up the process by serving the people around you. At the restaurant, you should wait until everyone gets their plate before you jump on yours. In a bar, you should wait until everybody’s facing a pint before raising your glass for a toast or a sip.

  • Don’t
    Don’t eat with your mouth open, slurp, or produce lots of noise.

It may sound obvious to many Western cultures, but don’t take it for granted. In Japan, for instance, a country considered to have strict etiquette rules, it’s polite to slurp loudly on your Rāmen (noodle soup) to show that you’re having a good time. However, any other mouth noise is frowned upon. Confusing, right?

In France, when it comes to French etiquette at the table, you should simply refrain from producing any slurping, chewing, gargling, or burping sounds at the table, or really, in any public place.

  • Do
    You should be prepared for a lengthy meal.

French dining is no joke. This is especially true for holidays and special occasions, such as Christmas dinner or birthday parties. But many casual meals with friends or a simple lunch with coworkers can easily escalate to a never-ending food-fest and drag on until the middle of the afternoon.

French meals are slow to start and even slower to finish. Before you get to the starters, you may rinse your throat with the apéritif (appetizer): often a glass of wine or liquor, such as Pastis or Ricard, with some kind of snack (peanuts, smoked ham, olives, you name it). And before you’re excused from the table, there will be a LOT of talking.

Unless you’re with close friends on a casual event, it’s usually considered rude to leave the table before the meal ends. Of course, if you have a reasonable excuse to do so, nobody will throw rocks at you, but it’s generally better not to be in a rush.

Friends Giving a Toast

Santé ! (“Cheers!”)

One more thing before we move on. If you’ve read any other guide about French dining etiquette, you must be wondering: But what about touching the cheese with my fingers, keeping my hands on the table, serving women first, or wiping the sauce with bread?

Well… Many authors seem to be living in the 19th century and will shower you with strict instructions that only apply to high-end restaurants or a presidential dinner in Versailles. They fail to mention that most of these rules are way too uptight for a meal with friends or even a business lunch.

However, if you’re interested in learning more about the subtleties of French dining etiquette, there’s a great number of books to pick from!

2. French Etiquette and Manners in Public Places

Hygiene

A lot of your time in France is likely to be spent in public places of all sorts: avenues, parks, squares, and halls. Let’s see how to behave without attracting unwanted attention or angry stares.

  • Don’t
    Don’t sniffle your snot repeatedly, just blow your nose.

/!\ If you get grossed out just reading about snot, I suggest that you just skip to the next section.

Whether it’s healthier to blow your nose in a tissue or to sniff hard and spit it out is still debated, and just like everything related to body fluids and germs, it’s really important to get it right when traveling abroad.

In many countries, blowing your nose is considered rude and disgusting, and there’s usually nothing wrong with sniffling as much as it takes to keep it inside.

In France, however, you’ll find that many people get irritated if you continue to sniffle your snot when you have a runny nose. And I can relate. The sound just gets on my nerves and makes me want to scream “Just blow your freaking nose already!”

However, this doesn’t mean that you should blow your nose right at the dinner table. That would be bad etiquette.

Wiping your nose with a tissue is fine, but if you need more relief, just excuse yourself for a moment and find a private corner or move a few steps away and blow it quietly. Your friends will usually prefer one short blow to a sniffling concerto.

Woman Blowing Her Nose

Elle se mouche. (“She’s blowing her nose.”)

  • Do
    You should be quiet and keep your voice down.

This is a good example of French etiquette and customs I had always taken for granted until I visited South America. Until then, I had only been in countries where it’s considered polite to speak quietly and refrain from yelling, shouting, or laughing out loud.

You can imagine the cultural shock of coming to a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to loudly express your emotions and where the noise level in the street is often much higher than in my home country. Just as it’s shocking to the French if you break this rule in their streets by being too loud.

It’s good French manners and etiquette to keep your voice down, not to a whisper, but to what we consider a reasonable level. Look around you when you’re outside, follow your friends’ lead, and you’ll get it right.

  • Do
    You can kiss and hug in public (within reason!).

The French are known for being very relaxed about public displays of affection. It’s common to see people kiss, hold hands, hug, or cuddle in the street or on the bus, and nobody will mind if you get tender with your lover in a public place. That makes it easy to practice your French kiss skills!

Be careful, however: This only applies to kissing, hugging, and innocent stroking. If it gets more physical or erotic, or if there’s any nudity involved, it won’t be considered acceptable anymore (and possibly not legal, either).

Public displays of affection for same-sex couples is still a work in progress. Although the country is reasonably progressive in LGBT rights, two men or women kissing in public could still raise some eyebrows from the older or more conservative fringe of the population, especially outside of big cities.

Couple in the Shower

Think Green, turn off the shower!

3. French Greetings and Etiquette: Greeting People

When it comes to French etiquette, greetings in France can be a confusing or stressful experience if you’re not prepared for our typical air-kissing technique: La bise. I have covered it extensively in another article on How to Say Hi. Check it out to learn the ins and outs of this oh-so-French custom.

  • Do
    You should greet everyone when you join a group.

When you join a group of French, it’s considered good French social etiquette to say “Hello” to everyone, and introduce yourself (simply stating your name is often enough), to whomever you haven’t met before.

At a business meeting, shake hands with everyone present when arriving and leaving. The French handshake is brief—one up and down movement—with a firm grip and eye-contact.

With friends and acquaintances, a handshake is the most popular greeting among men, and kissing on the cheek is common between women or between men and women.

  • Don’t
    Don’t overuse the formal Monsieur and Madame.

You’ve probably read somewhere that the proper way to greet someone is to use Bonjour (Hello) with either Monsieur (Sir) or Madame (Madam). This is true if you want to explicitly express respect toward the other person, but with friends or coworkers of the same rank, you could sound stiff or overly formal.

There’s generally nothing wrong with using Monsieur or Madame when addressing shops’ or restaurants’ staff, but I usually find it too solemn for my taste.

Mademoiselle (Miss) has an old-fashioned ring to it and has lost a lot of its appeal after it started being overused in cheap pickup lines. I believe if someone is young enough to be called Mademoiselle, you don’t need to be formal and use the title. And if you want to use it with galant intentions, you’ve been warned!

4. French Etiquette Tips When Visiting People

A person’s home is their castle, and when invited to your friend’s or colleague’s, it’s best to avoid missteps.

  • Do
    You should bring a small gift to your host.

When invited for dinner, it’s polite to thank your host with a gift of some sort. There’s no strict rule on what you should bring, but for formal occasions, flowers or a bottle of wine are safe bets. In more casual company, wine works just as well as any liquor or delicacy (chocolates, an interesting appetizer).

Among friends, it’s common in France to make the meal a collaborative experience: someone brings the starters, others are in charge of the main, dessert, wine, appetizer, or cheese. Coordination is crucial. Double-check what you should bring so you don’t end up with a triple ration of cheese but no wine.

Man Giving Woman Flowers

You don’t actually have to kneel when offering flowers to your host!

  • Don’t
    Don’t be late or leave them hanging.

Punctuality is highly appreciated in France, especially in business, but also among friends. When invited for dinner, it’s fine to show up slightly later than the set time. But in any other situation, you should do your best to be right on time.

If you’re running late or have to cancel, always inform your friends and don’t leave them hanging, waiting for you to show up. Even if you’re only one person among many, it’s polite to inform at least your host or the event organizer if you’re not going to make it on time, or at all.

5. French Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts for Public Transports

If you’re visiting France as a tourist, there’s a good chance you’ll spend some of your time in public transports. All the rules about behavior in public places apply, but here are a few other recommendations to make everything smoothly polite.

  • Do
    You should wait in line when buying tickets or boarding.

This one actually applies to any line of people waiting for something, whether you’re waiting for your train tickets, your lunch, or your baguette. Be respectful to people around you and wait in line for your turn.

If you’re in a serious rush, you could ask them politely if they mind you taking over, but you should accept their decision if they refuse.

When boarding your train or bus, don’t act like you’re in a barbaric mob – quietly wait in line by the doors. During rush hours, things could get messy, especially when the subway gets cramped, and some will try to take over so they don’t have to wait for the next train. But most of them will wait in a somewhat orderly line anyway.

  • Don’t
    Don’t listen to your music on speakers or have loud phone conversations.

Remember when I mentioned that you should stay quiet and avoid yelling or shouting? Let’s add some more transport-specific rules of savoir-vivre (good manners).

If you want a soundtrack to make your ride more entertaining, you should keep it to yourself by using headphones. Playing music on your phone’s speaker or giant boombox is considered tasteless and rude.

As for loud conversations, you’ll get a pass if you’re among friends, having a lively conversation. But when talking on the phone, you’re expected to keep your voice down as most people feel like they don’t need the details of your personal life.

People Sleeping on the Metro

Shhh…don’t wake them up.

  • Do
    You should give your seat to grandma.

On the city bus, tramway, or metro, where seats aren’t assigned, it’s polite and considerate to leave your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

Most public transports have priority seats dedicated to them, but you should be ready to offer them any other seat, regardless of how it’s labeled. However, you’re free to use any priority seat as long as they’re not taken. When doing so, just be extra aware of your surroundings and be ready to offer it to someone in need.

    → Check out our vocabulary list on the Train or Bus Station to learn more vocabulary for your rides in public transports.

6. Proper French Etiquette in a Shop

Bad Phrases

  • Do
    You should greet the staff and treat them well.

To understand how to properly interact with staff from any shop, restaurant, or administration, you have to know that France doesn’t live by the British-American rule of “The customer is always right.” In France, the client is a guest in the shop, and it’s often more important to the clerk to be treated with respect than to make the sale.

It’s hard to stress how important it is to understand this shift of power when interacting with sellers or waiters, especially when coming from the U.S. or the U.K., where client-staff interactions are handled in a wildly different manner.

In a nutshell: Politely greet them, smile, and treat them well. I’m not saying that you should be obsequious or overly submissive. Just treat them like human beings and acknowledge that they deserve respect for providing a service.

  • Don’t
    Don’t bargain or discuss the prices.

This one is a no-brainer. Unless you’re buying fake Ray-Bans on a Sunday market, prices aren’t up for discussion and bargaining is just not a thing in France.

In most cases, prices are clearly displayed in shops to spare you the need to ask for them. And if you’re not happy with them, it’s more polite to walk away and compare your options than to start arguing with the employees.

Store Clerk Writing

Jean-Pierre looks like a nice guy but you don’t want to see him angry…

7. French Etiquette in Business: Conducting Business

Business

  • Don’t
    Don’t use aggressive selling techniques.

There are many countries where it’s fine to jump on your customer as they walk through the door, or start talking numbers as soon as you start a business lunch. However, when it comes to French etiquette, business is supposed to be handled with more tact, and the French don’t respond well to this kind of behavior.

We don’t like to make hasty and impulsive decisions, especially in business. Deals are rarely finalized in the first meeting, and high-pressure sales tactics are likely not to work at all. It may even provoke enough reluctance to just ruin your efforts.

  • Do
    You should embrace criticism and interruptions.

This rule of etiquette in French business might sound a little counterintuitive, but this is what makes it so important!

When presenting your ideas, either in a meeting or in a less formal setting, don’t get upset or frustrated if your colleagues interrupt you to ask questions or give some insight.

Constructive criticism is highly regarded in France, and you should be ready to openly discuss the merits and flaws of your ideas. This is how your coworkers show their interest.

Hectic Business Meeting

Just keep your cool, you’re on the same team!

8. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned the Do’s and Don’ts for a wide range of daily life situations, from French meal etiquette to manners in the office, the street, or the train. Get familiar with these social norms and you’ll become more confident, knowing that you’re behaving respectfully, without being afraid of rude mishaps.

Did I forget any important situations? Do you feel ready to amaze your friends with your impeccable savoir-vivre (good manners), using everything you’ve learned today?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. Our vocabulary lists are also a great way to revisit the words and learn their pronunciation.

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice your knowledge about French cultural norms with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, and help you with the pronunciation of important phrases.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in French

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

All about Dates: Days of the Week in French and More!

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Some dates grow on trees, others are arranged on Tinder, but today, we’re interested in the ones that live and thrive on the French calendar. If you’re planning to travel to or leave France, or if you have occasional interactions with French speakers, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually have to deal with calendar dates in French, including how to write days of the week in French.

This could happen if someone inquires about your anniversaire (birthday), if you have to fill out a formulaire (form), or make a rendez-vous (appointment). Dates go with your signature on most official documents, and knowing how to write them will also make the booking of your train tickets a much smoother experience.

Learning to write dates in French is simply an unavoidable aspect of learning the language, and it will make every aspect of your life much easier in the French-speaking world.

Today, we’re going to learn how to tell or write the date, from the mythological names and numbers of the days of the week, to the years and months in French. In the process, you’ll learn many common phrases about the dates, as well as the most popular questions and how to answer them.

By the end of the article, you’ll be perfectly date-proof and ready to answer any historical question from the French Jeopardy game! Without further ado, our guide on days, months, and dates in French, and every phrase you’ll need to know!

Table of Contents

  1. How to Tell the Date
  2. How to Say the Days of the Week
  3. How to Say the Months
  4. How to Say the Years
  5. Must-Know Phrases to Talk about Dates
  6. Celebrating Life and Wine in France!
  7. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in French

1. How to Tell the Date

Numbers

Once you know the words for the days and months, telling the date in French is nothing complicated. Especially for those starting from American English, there’s just a few differences when it comes to dates in French language. Here are the most significant rules for writing dates in French to keep in mind:

1- Dates in French Format: Day, Month, Year

How are dates written in French?

Unlike the Month, Day, Year trinity of American dates, French starts with the day, then the month, and then the year. We write all three in a row, without commas or any other separator.

For example, here are some examples of how to write dates in French:

  • 14 juillet 1789 [French Revolution’s Bastille Day]
  • 27 décembre 1975 [Queen releases Bohemian Rhapsody]

For now, don’t worry about the translation of the months or how to pronounce the years. We’ll cover all that in a moment!

2- To Le or not to Le

How to say dates in French depends on the formality of the occasion. In formal situations, giving dates in French can be done one of the following two ways:

  1. Nous sommes + day of the week + le + day’s number (#) + month + year.
  2. Nous sommes + le + # + month + year.

For instance, saying dates in French may look like this:

  1. Nous sommes Lundi le 25 mai 1977.
    “It’s Monday, May 25, 1977.”
  2. Nous sommes le 25 mai 1977.
    “It’s May 25, 1977.”

[Star Wars – A New Hope hits the theaters.]

In informal situations, expressing dates in French will look like this:

  1. C’est + day of the week + le + # + month + year.
  2. On est + day of the week + le + # + month + year.

For instance:

  1. C’est mardi le 21 décembre 2012.
    “We are Tuesday, December 21, 2012.”
  2. On est mardi le 21 décembre 2012.
    “We are Tuesday, December 21, 2012.”

[Mayan-based prophecy for the end of the world.]

Bowl of Dates

Datte (date fruit) not date (calendar date).

3- How to Abstract from the Date

There are many ways to go about talking about dates in French. Some involve the whole set of information, as we’ve seen above, including the name of the day, number, month, and year. Others involve only one or two components, and knowing those structures will literally save the day.

Here’s how to talk about the day:

  • On est lundi.
    “It is Monday.”
  • Je vais à la piscine le mardi.
    “I’m going to the pool on Tuesdays.”
  • Il va au marché tous les samedi.
    “He’s going to the market every Saturday.”
  • Nous sommes le 12.
    “It is the 12th.”

Now, about the month:

  • On est en janvier.
    “It is January.”
  • Le mois de juillet.
    “The month of July.”

And finally, the year:

  • On est en 2019.
    “It is 2019.”
  • En l’an 2012
    “In the year 2012.”

Or why not some combinations, using dates and years in French?

  • Nous sommes en mars 2015.
    “It is March 2015.”
  • J’ai un rendez-vous le 23 octobre.
    “I have an appointment on the 23rd of October.”

4- How to Write the Date

To write dates in French on formal documents or letters, we use the following structure:

  • Day of the week + le + # + month + year.

Example:

  • Lundi le 15 mai 2030.
    “Monday, May 15, 2030.”

You can also write the date in a condensed format. It’s very similar to English, but with a twist: Once again, the order is day / month / year.

It looks like this : DD/MM/YY

For instance:

  • 05/07/96 (July 5, 1996) [Dolly the sheep is cloned.]
  • 23/04/05 (April 23, 2005) [YouTube is officially launched.]

Calendar with a Date Circled

Un calendrier (a calendar)

2. How to Say the Days of the Week

Weekdays

When reading dates in French, you’ll have to know the names of the days of the week. Just like the months, French days don’t start with a capital letter.

lundi           Monday
mardi           Tuesday
mercredi           Wednesday
jeudi           Thursday
vendredi           Friday
samedi           Saturday
dimanche           Sunday

All these names come from Latin, and many from Roman mythology, and it’s not only good to know about it to impress your friends at a dinner party; it will also help you remember them!

  • Lundi (Monday) is the day of the Moon.

    Luna is the Latin word for “moon,” becoming lune in French, becoming lundi.

    In English, “Monday” is the Moon Day, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. It derives from Old English “Mōnandæg” and Middle English “Monenday,” based on Latin dies lunae which translates to “day of the Moon.”

  • Mardi (Tuesday) is the day of the God of War.

    While the Greek God of War, Ares, was being torn apart by a vengeful Kratos, his Roman counterpart, Martius (or Mars in French) was becoming mardi.

    In English, they use the Norse God of War, Tyr (or Tiw), later becoming Tiwesdaeg, and finally: “Tuesday.”

  • Mercredi (Wednesday) is the day of the Messenger God.

    From the Roman messenger God, Mercury (Mercure in French), it becomes mercredi.

    In English, it comes from the Norse God, Odin the chief God of Asgard (also called Woden or Wotan), later becoming Wodnesdaeg, and then “Wednesday.”

  • Jeudi (Thursday) is the day of the God of Thunder.

    From the Roman God-in-chief Jupiter (equivalent of the Greek Zeus), it became Jeudi.

    In English, the Norse God of Thunder was Thor (long before he joined the Avengers). It became Thorsdaeg and “Thursday.”

  • Vendredi (Friday) is the day of Beauty.

    From the Roman Goddess of Beauty, Venus, it became vendredi.

    In English, the Norse Goddess of Marriage and the Hearth, Frigga (wife of Odin), later became Frigedaeg and then “Friday.”

  • Samedi (Saturday) is the day of Time.

    Both French and English words come from the Roman God of Time and Harvest, Saturn. While the English “Saturday” didn’t stray too far from its godly origins, the French version went a bit wild and evolved into samedi.

  • Dimanche (Sunday) is the day of the Lord.

    Not as sunny as the English word, but wrapped in a shroud of mystical mystery, the French dimanche comes from the Latin Dies Dominicus, which means the “Day of the Lord.”

A Minotaur and Soldiers

La mythologie (Mythology)

          → To learn how to pronounce the names of the days, make sure to check out our free vocabulary list on Talking about the Days on FrenchPod101.

          → For the numbers of the days, stop by our vocabulary list on numbers with audio recordings.

3. How to Say the Months

Months

Unlike in English, French months don’t start with a capital letter. You’ll also certainly be happy to know that they’re way easier to handle than our exceptions-riddled years. Let’s jump right in:

janvier           January
février           February
mars           March
avril           April
mai           May
juin           June
juillet           July
août           August
septembre           September
octobre           October
novembre           November
décembre           December

Here are a few sentences using the names of the months:

  • On est en juillet.
    “It’s July.”
  • L’année prochaine, il va neiger en janvier.
    “Next year, it will snow in January.”
  • L’été commence fin juin et se termine fin septembre.
    “Summer starts at the end of June and ends at the end of September.”
  • On habite ensemble depuis mai 2012.
    “We’ve been living together since May 2012.”

          → Go the extra mile with FrenchPod101 and learn how to pronounce the French months with our vocabulary list on Talking about Months.

4. How to Say the Years

If you want to talk about the years and historical dates of all kinds, you’ll have to learn the numbers. There’s no way around it. Luckily, we have a comprehensive article about French Numbers that will teach you how to count from one to infinity!

Sure, you could just learn some key dates, such as the current one or the year of your birthday, but they’ll be much easier to remember once you know how the numbers work.

1- How to Pronounce the Years

Years are usually pronounced like any other big number, as follows:

2019           Deux-mille-dix-neuf

But then, there’s a special case for all the years from 1100 to 1999.

These dates can be pronounced in two ways, depending on whether you’re counting the thousands or the hundreds.

Here’s an example with the year 1910:

  • The “thousands” way: Mille-neuf-cent-dix.
    This literally means “one-thousand” (mille) “nine-hundred” (neuf-cent) “ten” (dix).
  • The “hundreds” way: Dix-neuf-cent-dix.
    This one literally means “nineteen hundred ten.” Instead of counting one-thousand and then nine-hundred, you’re counting “nineteen-hundred.”

Both forms are correct and equally accepted, but you should use the “hundreds” way only in oral communication. You always write years the “thousands” way. If you want to be safe, I recommend to always use the “thousands way,” but it’s good to know that some weird people count differently.

More examples of these two ways:

Date           Thousands way           Hundreds way
1408           Mille-quatre-cent-huit           Quatorze-cent-huit
1760           Mille-sept-cent-soixante           Dix-sept-cent-soixante
1911           Mille-neuf-cent-onze           Dix-neuf-cent-onze

Couple Drinking Wine

N’oublie pas la date de ton rencard. (Don’t forget the date of your date.)

2- Année or An?

There are two ways to say “year” in French: Un an and Une année.

There’s no strict rule about whether you should use one or the other, but in most cases:

  1. An is used with a specific number of years.

    Examples:

    • J’ai vingt-deux ans.
      “I am 22 years old.”
    • Il y a trois ans.
      “Three years ago.”
    • Dans dix ans.
      “In ten years.”
  2. Année is used without numbers in many different expressions.

    Examples:

    • L’année prochaine
      “Next year”
    • Toute l’année
      “All year”
    • Cela fait des années.
      “It has been years.”
    • Les années 60
      “The sixties”

5. Must-Know Phrases to Talk about Dates

We’ve seen how to assemble a French date from the day, the month, and the year. Now, it’s time to get more practical with some of the most important phrases and expressions about dates, as well as the common questions and answers.

1- Le Premier

In English, all days are said using ordinal numbers, from 1st to 31st. This isn’t always the case, but for both Americans and the British, it’s the most common way to tell the date.
In French, all days use regular numbers, except for the first day of the month.

  • Le premier mai
    “The first of May”
  • Le deux mai
    “The second of May”
  • Le trente-et-un mai
    “The thirty-first of May”

2- What Day is it Today?

If you’re a time traveler or you just got out of a Game of Thrones marathon and lost track of the days, this is likely to be your first question.

Just keep in mind that asking for the date in a foreign language is as tricky as asking for directions. You’ll find it easy to ask, but not to understand the answer. So, carefully learn your months, get fluent with French numbers, and you’ll do just fine!

[Formal]

  1. Quelle est la date aujourd’hui ?
    “What is the date today?”
  2. Quel jour sommes-nous (aujourd’hui) ?
    “What day is it today?”

[Casual]

  1. C’est quoi la date aujourd’hui ?
    “What is the date today?”
  2. On est quel jour (aujourd’hui) ?
    “What day is it today?”

Note that in form 1, the word aujourd’hui (today) is important. In most situations, the other person will get from the context that you’re asking about today, but there are some cases where you could be asking for Nicolas Cage’s birthday or about the next Hanson live concert.

In form 2, the word aujourd’hui is implied and could be omitted without creating any confusion. This is because the literal translation of this form really is: “What day are we?”

Common answers are:

[Formal]

  • Nous sommes le 15 septembre.
    “Today is the 15th of September.”

[Casual]

  • On est le 15 septembre.
    “Today is the 15th of September.”

A Different Calendar Flipping Pages

You can also ask for more specific information, such as the day’s number or the year. Here’s how to do so:

[Formal]

  • Le combien sommes-nous aujourd’hui ?
    “What day is it today?”
  • En quelle année sommes-nous ?
    “What year is it now?”

[Casual]

  • On est le combien aujourd’hui ?
    “What is the date today?”
  • On est en quelle année ?
    “What year is it now?”

Be careful with question two. Don’t use it until you’re ready to tell your friends about your years of hardcore gaming in a bunker or your decade of solitary confinement in a Siberian prison.

3- Le Prochain

To talk about the next whatever, you can use the word prochain (next). It could be the next week, month, weekend, year, decade, or century. Here’s how:

  • La semaine prochaine
    “Next week”
  • Le mois prochain
    “Next month”
  • L’année prochaine / L’an prochain
    “Next year”

To talk about the next days, you’ll more likely use demain (tomorrow) or après-demain (the day after tomorrow, or literally: “after-tomorrow” when translated).

6. Celebrating Life and Wine in France!

How could I write about the dates without mentioning all of our yearly events and celebrations?

We have a fairly long list of holidays in France. Some are of religious origin, but lost most of their spiritual varnish and are now celebrated by everyone. Many of them have become an excuse for indulging in delicious food (nothing wrong with that!) or blind consumerism (I’m looking at you, Christmas). But celebrations such as la chandeleur (Candlemas) and its delicious Crêpes, or l’épiphanie (Epiphany), should absolutely not be missed.

If you want to learn more about the main events of the French calendar, be sure to check out our excellent article about the Must-Know French Holidays and Events in 2019.

And for some lesser-known celebrations that will leave you happy and tipsy, stick with me for a while as we take off for the wine-growing regions of France!

1- Les Vendanges

The vendange (grape harvest) is the process of harvesting grapes for the production of wine (the word doesn’t apply to the table grape). The same word is used for the grape that’s harvested during this process.

L’époque des vendanges (or “The grape harvest season” in English) depends on the region, the weather conditions, and everything affecting the maturity of the grape. However, the vendanges traditionally takes place between the months of September and October (one month earlier than fifty years ago, courtesy of global warming).

  • Entre septembre et octobre
    “Between September and October”

The grape can be harvested by hand or with machines. The former is the traditional method that is still used for high-quality vintage or sparkling wine, as both require a rigorous selection of grapes. It’s also used when the terrain doesn’t allow a mechanical harvest.

The latter is much faster and cheaper, but skips the selection process, mixing grapes of various levels of maturity and resulting in the final product being of lower quality.

A Vineyard

Le vignoble (The vineyard)

Every year, during les vendanges, wine-growers from all the wine regions of France hire thousands of short-term workers to help them with the manual harvest in a warm and cheerful atmosphere. It involves working eight hours a day, garden shears in hand, which is equally rewarding and exhausting, but definitely a cool way to jump on the winemaking train!

Contracts range from eight to fifteen days, and usually, no previous experience is required. However, it takes a good level of fitness, because the job is as physical as it gets.

Check out the official website of our national job agency: Pole-emploi. Or if you’re targeting a specific area, head to the regional page of your choosing, such as Auvergne, Rhones-Alpes or Grand-est.

2- Le Beaujolais Nouveau

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais nouveau (new Beaujolais) makes a big entrance. For the next few days, the French will be drinking this ruby red fruity wine with a solemn enthusiasm.

  • Le troisième jeudi de novembre
    “The third Thursday of November”

The Beaujolais nouveau, or Beaujolais primeur, is produced in the vignoble du Beaujolais (Beaujolais vineyard) and can be sold right after the end of the vinification process. Thus, each year, restaurants and bars traditionally advertise the arrival of the new vintage of the beloved Beaujolais.

A Sign Written in French

The new Beaujolais has arrived!

The official “launch” of the wine takes place in the town of Beaujeu, historical capital of Beaujolais, during the traditional celebrations of the Sarmentelles. There, after a procession of wheelbarrows filled with vine branches is ceremoniously set on fire, the first barrels of Beaujolais are pierced at midnight, and the rest is history.

3- Wine Festivals

The Beaujolais is just one among many wine festivals throughout France. Another famous event is the Grand Tasting or Festival des grands vins (Superior Wines Festival) which takes place each year in the Louvre, where the most prestigious winemakers put on a show.

Check out The Wine Agenda from the LRVF website for more information on the numerous events and celebrations for wine-lovers in France!

Wine and Grapes on Top of a Barrel

Festival du vin (Wine festival)

7. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French

In this guide, you’ve learned everything about dates, from the days, to the years and months. You’ve also learned some practical sentences for asking about the date and giving it. Do you feel ready to talk about dates and deal with big-number years? Practice dates in French by dropping us a comment with today’s date.

A good way to practice using the dates is to go step-by-step. Start with the days:

  • On est le 18.
    “Today is the 18th.”
  • On est mercredi 18.
    “Today is Wednesday, the 18th.”

Most of the time, this is the expected answer when someone asks you about the date.

Then, when you’re feeling comfortable with the days, try adding the month, and finally, the year:

  • On est le 18 décembre.
    “Today is the 18th of December.”
  • On est le 18 décembre 2019.
    “Today is the 18th of December, 2019.”

It’s all about taking it easy and going at your own pace until you become fluent with dates.

FrenchPod101 also has tons of free vocabulary lists with audio recordings, and more free resources to boost your studies and keep your French-learning fresh and entertaining!

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. You can have your private teacher help you practice with dates, and much more! This service includes assignments, personalized exercises, and recorded audio samples for you (as well as a tutor to review your own recordings to help improve your pronunciation).

Happy learning on FrenchPod101!

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

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French Travel Phrases: Your Survival Kit for Smooth Trips

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If you’re reading this, you already know why you want to travel to France, be it the beauty and diversity of its landscapes, the appeal of its cuisine, or its wealth of history. But you may find yourself in need of helpful French travel phrases, and fast!

As a travel destination, France is notorious for a reason and it will delight the casual beach-goers and culture vultures alike. But to be fair, it’s not the cheapest travel destination and the language barrier can be challenging. Even though the number of English speakers has been rising rapidly over recent years, we’re still lagging behind most of our European neighbors. Even in the most touristic spots, you might bump into a waiter, a taxi driver, or a ticket seller who doesn’t speak anything but French.

This is where our French travel phrases will come in handy!

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to travel around France, from the basic daily words to specific topics such as transportation, restaurants, hotels, and much more. You’ll also find more French travel tips to help you find your way around your new favorite country with these key French travel phrases!

Without further ado, let’s move on to our list of French travel phrases.

Table of Contents

  1. Survival Basics: Simple French Travel Phrases
  2. Lost in Translation
  3. Shopping
  4. Moving Around
  5. Hotel / Hostel
  6. Restaurants
  7. Asking for Directions
  8. Emergencies
  9. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French Vocabulary

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A Photo of Arras

Arras, in the “Hauts-de-France” region.

1. Survival Basics: Simple French Travel Phrases

In this chapter, I gathered a list of basic French travel phrases and words that can prove useful in most encounters in France. These French phrases for travel are just what you need to get started on your journey here. Later on, we’ll examine more specific scenarios and make sure you’re well-equipped for anything that could come your way! You’ll certainly be glad to know this survival French for travelers!

1- Being Polite

As I’ve mentioned in other articles, France invented the word “étiquette” and is still a place where courtesy matters…a lot. I’m not saying all French behave like white knights of exquisite politeness, but knowing how to greet and thank your French hosts and friends will take you a long way, while doing so in their language makes you instantly more likable.

Bonjour ! “Hello!”
Bonsoir ! “Good evening!”
Comment tu t’appelles ? [Casual]
Comment vous appelez-vous ? [Formal]
“What is your name?”
Enchanté. “Nice to meet you.”
Au revoir. “Goodbye.”
Merci (beaucoup). “Thank you (very much).”
Non merci. “No, thank you.”
S’il te plaît. [Casual]
S’il vous plaît. [Formal]
“Please.”
Je t’en prie. [Casual]
Je vous en prie. [Formal]
“You are welcome.”
Excuse-moi. [Casual]
Excusez-moi. [Formal]
“Excuse me.”
(Je suis) désolé. “(I am) sorry.”

These are just the ten most useful phrases. To read more on this topic or to practice some of these French travel phrases with pronunciation, please have a look at the following resources on FrenchPod101:

2- General Toolkit

Now that you’ve shown your good manners, let’s look at a few more essential French phrases for travellers. Here are some common words and expressions to gracefully make your way through France.

Oui / Non “Yes / No”
J’aime / Je n’aime pas “I like / I don’t like”
Pourquoi ? “Why?”
Quelle heure est-il ? “What time is it?”
Où sont les toilettes ? “Where are the toilets?”

This is a small sample of the most common general phrases. You can find out more on our List of 24 Key Phrases with audio recordings, on FrenchPod101.

2. Lost in Translation

Even if you’re well-prepared and almost fluent, there will be times when your interlocutor doesn’t make sense to you, and you’ll have to make them repeat. Heck, even as a native speaker, I’m helpless with the thickest cases of southern French accents! So just know that even knowing the best French travel phrases won’t always save you from the awkwardness of asking someone to repeat what they said.

It’s perfectly fine to ask someone to talk slower, repeat themselves, or rephrase what they were saying. Most French people will be happy to see you putting in the effort and will help you understand.

Tu peux répéter ? [Casual]
Pouvez-vous répéter (s’il vous plaît) ? [Formal]
“Can you repeat (please)?”
Un peu plus lentement, s’il te plaît. [Casual]
Un peu plus lentement, s’il vous plaît. [Formal]
“A bit slower, please.”
Je suis désolé, je ne comprends pas. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
Que signifie ___ ?
Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?
“What does ___ mean?”
“What does it mean?”
Comment on dit ___ en Français ? [Casual]
Comment dire ___ en Français ? [Formal]
“How do you say ___ in French?”
“How to say ___ in French?”
Tu parles Anglais ? [Casual]
Est-ce que tu parles Anglais ? [Casual]
Vous parlez Anglais ? [Formal]
Parlez-vous Anglais ? [Formal]
“Do you speak English?”

A Person Confused By Something Someone Is Saying

Je ne comprends pas ( “I don’t understand” )

3. Shopping

From the sparkling fancy boutiques of the Champs-Elysées to the dusty antiques of a typical Brocante (“Garage sale”), from the sprawling suburban malls to the modest Bouquinistes ( “Book sellers” ) along the Seine river, France caters for all tastes and budgets.

French shopping is usually a painless experience: Prices are displayed almost everywhere and credit cards are widely accepted, even in small bakeries or convenience stores. We don’t do five hours of siesta in the middle of the day, and unless you’re strolling around the Eiffel Tower in the crowd of souvenir sellers who won’t let you leave without a dozen dust collectors, shop owners aren’t likely to jump on you.

Combien ça coûte ?
Combien coûte ce ___ ?
“How much is it?”
“How much is this __?”
Combien coûte un kilo ?
Combien ça coûte à l’unité ?
“How much is it for a kilo?”
“How much is it for one?”
J’en voudrais XX. “I would like XX of this.”
A emporter / Sur place “To take away / To eat here”
Je peux payer par carte ? “Can I pay with card?”
Je vais payer en liquide.
Je vais payer en espèce.
“I will pay with cash.”

A Fruit Stand On A Street Market

Le marché ( “The market” )

For more shopping words, check out our free Shopping vocabulary list.

While shopping in France, you’ll also need to know how to handle prices or quantities. Make sure to read my previous article about French Numbers: From 0 to Infinity, and Beyond and the complementary vocabulary list.

4. Moving Around

No list of basic French phrases for tourists would be complete without information on talking about your ride. Whether you travel by bus, train, taxi, or plane, you need to be able to ask your way around, inquire about the timetables and details of the trip, navigate until you board the correct ride, and figure out when to get off.

Here are the most popular ways to move around France:

  • Le train ( “Train” )
    This is the fastest, most comfortable, and usually most scenic way to travel from one city to another. However, compared to buses, it can be pretty expensive, especially when booked at the last minute. Although locals will often complain of the trains being late or canceled, our national network is actually pretty strong and reliable compared to those of some of our close neighbors.
  • Le bus intercité ( “Intercity bus” )
    Bus travel has been developing rapidly in recent years and offers cheap prices to compete with the train and car sharing services. For instance, you can book an overnight trip from Paris to Nice for 28€ while a train on the same date would be around 60€.
  • Moving around the city with Les transports en commun (“The public transport”): Bus, Métro, or Tram ( “Bus,metro, or Tramway” )
    The subterranean metro or Trams are only available in big cities, but you can always move around with a local bus. Without the monthly or annual card, individual trips can be purchased for around 2€ in the metro or tram station, or directly on the bus.
  • Le taxi ( “Taxi” ) is the expensive alternative to public transportation that you only want to take when you’re going to the airport in the middle of the night or going back home dead drunk after an intense night out.
  • Questionable business practices aside, Uber is a much cheaper and more convenient substitute to taxis, and it’s well-developed in France.
  • L’avion ( “Plane” )
    Keeping in mind the dire environmental cost, traveling by plane is by far the fastest way to cover long distances and the prices of the Billets d’avion ( “Plane tickets” ) have continued to drop steadily over the years. Prices are especially low if you can book around a month in advance.

A Train Passing A House

Le train ( “The train” )

Now, where do you want to go?

La gare (ferroviaire) “The railway station”
Le terminal de bus
La station de bus
“The bus terminal”
“The bus station”
La station de taxis /métro / tram “The taxi / metro / tramway station”
L’arrêt de bus “The bus stop”
L’aéroport “The airport”

Then, using your brand new words, find your way there:

Je voudrais aller à l’aéroport. “I would like to go to the airport.”
Pouvez-vous m’indiquer la gare ? “Could you show me where the railway station is?”
Où est la station de métro la plus proche ? “Where is the closest metro station?”
Pouvez-vous m’appeler un taxi ? “Could you call a taxi for me?”
Je cherche le terminal de bus. “I’m looking for the bus terminal.”

Now, you have to ask the right questions before buying your tickets:

Où puis-je acheter un billet ? “Where can I buy a ticket?”
Aller simple / Aller-retour “One-way trip / Round trip”
Combien coûte le billet pour Dunkerque ? “How much is the ticket to Dunkerque?”
A quelle heure part le prochain train pour Dunkerque ? “At what time is the next train to Dunkerque leaving?”

Personally, I don’t see why anyone would go to Dunkerque, but I’ll let you be the judge of that (or rather don’t!).

And finally, you’ll just have to figure out where your ride is leaving from and when you should get off:

Est-ce le bon quai pour aller vers Issy ? “Is this the right platform to go to Issy?”
Est-ce que ce train s’arrête à Issy ? “Does this train stop in Issy?”
Pouvez-vous me prévenir quand nous arriverons à Issy, s’il vous plaît ? “Could you please tell me when we’ll arrive at Issy?”
Porte d’embarquement “Boarding gate”

To learn more vocabulary about transportation, please check out our lists of vocabulary for Airplanes, Bus or Train Stations, and Crossing Borders.

5. Hotel / Hostel

Preparing For Travel

As the most visited country in the world (nothing wrong with a bit of bragging!), France has no shortage of accommodation of all shapes, sizes, and prices. You’re not likely to run out of options when looking for a place to spend the night. But you may still want a couple of French travel tips and phrases regarding your stay.

Prices vary greatly depending on the season and proximity to the tourist attractions, but considering the quality of the transport network all over the country, it’s usually fine to sleep outside of the city center.

While the Gîtes ruraux (“Rural houses” used as vacation rentals) and Chambres d’hôte ( “Bed & Breakfast” ) are popular choices among locals for their summer vacations, the most common options are still L’hôtel ( “The hotel” ) and its budget version, L’auberge de jeunesse (“The hostel” or “Youth hostel”).

The City Of Nice

Nice, on the Mediterranean coast.

Most visitors in France will book their room through the usual Booking.com or HostelWorld, but there are times when you just want to stroll around and find the perfect place all by yourself. Here’s how to ask for a room in French:

Avez-vous une chambre disponible pour XX personnes ? “Do you have a room available for XX people?”
Lits séparés / Lit double / Dortoir “Twin beds / Double bed / Dorm room”
J’ai une réservation au nom de Bob Wilson. “I have a booking in the name of Bob Wilson.”

Next step: you probably have some questions about the room.

Est-ce que la chambre a ___ ?

  • Une fenêtre
  • Un balcon
  • Une salle de bain
  • Un ventilateur
  • L’air conditionné
“Does the room have ___?”

  • “A window”
  • “A balcony”
  • “A bathroom”
  • “A fan”
  • “Air-conditioning”
Est-ce que je peux voir la chambre ? “Can I see the room?”
Combien coûte une nuit ? “How much is it for one night?”
Combien coûte une nuit par personne ? “How much is it per person for one night?”
Est-ce que le petit déjeuner est inclus ? “Is breakfast included?”
A quelle heure est le petit déjeuner ? “At what time is the breakfast?”

6. Restaurants

Survival Phrases

You’ve found a nice room with a convenient location in this cute family-run hostel. You’ve dropped your bags and are now ready for more adventures. But wait, what’s that sound? Is that the infamous Beast of Gevaudan or your growling stomach?

If there’s one thing France is acclaimed for, it has to be the food! Good food is at the heart of our friends, family, and even business meetings; alongside wine, it stands as the cornerstone of our philosophy of Art de vivre (“The Art of Living”).

Some people imagine French meals as fancy and snobbish, but this is mostly untrue. From the biggest cities to the tiniest towns, you can always find a good Brasserie ( Literally “Brewery” ) to serve you a generous portion of typical and unpretentious food such as Cassoulet (A mixture of white beans and sausage simmered in goose fat), Steak au poivre (“Pepper steak”), or Tartare de boeuf (“Beef tartare”), served with a glass of Beaujolais.

Many restaurants have the menu displayed outside, which is really convenient if you want to quietly check your options before entering. When they don’t, you can simply ask for it before sitting; if you don’t like what you see, just give it back, thank them politely, and leave.

Est-ce je peux voir le menu, s’il vous plaît ? “Can I please see the menu?”
Merci, bonne soirée ! “Thank you, have a good evening!”

Otherwise, if you like what they offer, go ahead! Most restaurants will take you to a table, while simple Brasseries, Pubs, or fast food places will let you seat yourself.

1- How to Order Drinks

Before you order the food, the first question you’ll usually hear is:

  • Voulez-vous boire quelque chose ? ( “Do you want something to drink?” )
  • Voulez-vous commander quelque chose à boire ? ( “Would you like to order a drink?” )

It’s worth noting that when you order a meal, water is always free in France (we have a law explicitly stating it). I’m talking simple tap water in a pitcher, and not sophisticated bottled sparkling water, but this is an amazing feature of French restaurants, especially if you’re on a budget! And you can get refills.

To ask for your free water, don’t just ask for water; sneaky waiters could take your order as mineral water and charge you for it. Instead, use this phrase:

Une carafe d’eau s’il vous plaît. “A jug of water, please.”

The important word here is Carafe (“Jug”), as it differentiates this from a paid order of mineral water. Also, don’t worry: water is properly filtered all over the country and it’s always fine to drink from the tap.

Oh, and you know what else is always free? Delicious French bread!

French Fries

Did you know that French Fries are not French?

2- How to Order Food

Alright, now, let’s get some food on this table!

If you have any specific diet or allergy, it’s probably best to start with this:

Je suis allergique aux cacahuètes. “I’m allergic to peanuts.”
Est-ce que ce plat contient des cacahuètes ? “Does this dish contain peanuts?”
Avez-vous des plats végétariens ?
Avez-vous des plats végans ?
“Do you have vegetarian dishes?”
“Do you have vegan dishes?”

And here’s how to order something from the menu:

Quel est le plat du jour ? “What is today’s special?”
Je voudrais un plat du jour.
Je voudrais un menu du jour.
“I would like today’s special.”
“I would like today’s menu.”
En entrée, je voudrais une salade.
En plat, un steak au poivre.
En dessert, une tarte aux pommes.
“For a starter, I would like a salad.”
“For main, a pepper steak.”
“For dessert, an apple pie.”

Your stomach has stopped growling, your belly’s full of French delicacies, and your mind is at peace. It’s time to thank the chef and ask for the bill:

C’était délicieux, merci ! “That was delicious, thank you!”
L’addition s’il vous plait.
Pouvons-nous avoir l’addition, s’il vous plait ?
“Check, please.”
“Can we get the check, please?”
Peut-on avoir des additions séparées ? “Can we have separate bills?”

You can find more vocabulary and practice your pronunciation with our vocabulary list on Restaurants and key phrases for restaurants.

7. Asking for Directions

As Mandy Hale says, “Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.” But sometimes, you just get severely frustrated and waste your day trying to reach this freaking museum your GPS keeps making you circle around.

One way or another, you’ll always end up relying on the help of locals to reach well-concealed destinations. Let’s start with the most common questions:

Je cherche le Panthéon.
Où se trouve le Panthéon ?
Pouvez-vous m’indiquer le Panthéon ?
“I’m looking for the Pantheon.”
“Where is the Pantheon?”
“Could you tell me where the Pantheon is?”
Comment aller au Panthéon ? “How can I go to the Pantheon?”
Dans quelle direction se trouve le Panthéon ? “Which way is the Pantheon?”

Signs In France

Je suis perdu. ( “I am lost.” )

As I often noticed while traveling, asking for directions is always the easy part, but making anything of the other person’s answer can prove much more challenging. Here are some examples of the answers you could receive:

Allez tout droit, puis prenez la première rue à gauche. “Go straight, then take the first street on the left.”
Tournez à droite quand vous sortez de la gare. “Turn right when you leave the train station.”
Traversez la rue en face de la gare. “Cross the street in front of the train station.”

To understand these kinds of instructions, it all comes down to knowing the right keywords, such as Droite (“Right”), Gauche (“Left”), En face (“In front”), Tout droit (“Straight”), and a few others.

Check out our lists of vocabulary for Position Words and Direction Words on FrenchPod101 to learn more about this.

And here’s more vocabulary and recordings about Key Places in Town, as well as the French Tourist Attractions.

8. Emergencies

In case of an emergency, you don’t want the language to get in the way of you and the help you need. Let’s have a look at the main emergency words (which may just be the most important French travel phrases when you need them) and how to use them.

A l’aide !
J’ai besoin d’aide !
“Help!”
“I need help!”
Le médecin
Pouvez-vous appeler un médecin ?
Où puis-je voir un médecin ?
“The doctor”
“Can you call a doctor?”
“Where can I see a doctor?”
L’hôpital
C’est une urgence.
Je dois aller à l’hôpital.
Appelez une ambulance !
“The hospital”
“It’s an emergency.”
“I need to go to the hospital.”
“Call an ambulance!”
La pharmacie
Où est la pharmacie la plus proche ?
Des médicaments
J’ai une assurance de voyage.
“The pharmacy”
“Where is the closest pharmacy?”
“Medication”
“I have travel insurance.”
La police
Appelez la police !
Où puis-je trouver le commissariat ?
“The police”
“Call the police!”
“Where can I find the police station?”
Il n’y a plus de fromage dans le frigo ! “There is no more cheese in the fridge!”

Emergency

C’est une urgence ! ( “It’s an emergency!” )

For more words on this topic, make sure to visit our free list of vocabulary about The Words and Phrases to Help You if You are in an Emergency.

If you’re in need of medical assistance, you’ll be glad to know about the Common Health Problems and some basic vocabulary about Medicine.

9. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn More French Vocabulary

French travel phrases in language learning are so important, and in this guide, you’ve learned a LOT of French travel phrases. I hope it wasn’t too overwhelming! Using these travel phrases to learn French will surely benefit you, but you don’t have to remember them all, as long as you keep these phrases accessible in a notebook or on your phone.

Did I forget any important words or expressions? Are you ready to get out there and ask locals about your travel needs?

Make sure to explore FrenchPod101, as it has plenty of free resources for you to practice your grammar and learn new words. The vocabulary lists are also a great way to revise and listen to the words. And you’re in luck, because we have tons of lists about traveling:

Remember that you can also use our premium service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching. Practice creating French travel phrases with your private teacher so they can give you personalized feedback and advice, or record them for you, so you learn the correct pronunciation.

Log

About the Author: Born and bred in the rainy north of France, Cyril Danon has been bouncing off various jobs before he left everything behind to wander around the wonders of the World. Now, after quenching his wanderlust for the last few years, he’s eager to share his passion for languages.

How to Say Happy New Year in French & New Year Wishes

Learn all the French New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join FrenchPod101 for a special French New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in French

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March – December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in French? Let a native teach you! At FrenchPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these French New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in France
  2. Must-Know French Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in French
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Learn French

But let’s start with some vocabulary for French New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in France

Like in many other countries, French people celebrate the New Year, or “Nouvel An” in French, on December 31. This celebration is also called “le réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre” or “le réveillon du Jour de l’an”. For French people, it’s a special time to be spent among friends, an opportunity to eat a good meal, a time to dance, and of course a time to party until the end of the night.

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

What do French people traditionally have to do when they pass under a sprig of mistletoe, as well as just after the stroke of midnight on New Years?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

In France, people celebrate the coming New year with friends. The celebration takes place at home, or in cafes and restaurants. The most popular places are those close to the Eiffel Tower, or in French, “Tour Eiffel”. Restaurants and homes are decorated with banners, or “banderoles”, displaying messages that say “Happy New Year.” As soon as night falls, people go and meet to share the last meal of the year, and to also spend the evening together. It’s a good opportunity to take some time and enjoy life.

As you may know, French people are foodies. In order to spend the evening well, they have to eat a sophisticated meal! Supper takes place over several courses. First, there is the “apéritif”, when French people drink champagne and give toasts to the health of friends and family. Then they begin to eat, starting with smoked salmon or foie gras on toast. People also eat oysters, meat, or fish. And of course, there has to be a cheese platter! For dessert, French people sometimes eat a log cake. Doesn’t all of this make you hungry?

After the meal, French people turn on the TV for the midnight countdown. The most watched show of the night is called “Le plus grand Cabaret du Monde”, which can be translated as “The Biggest Cabaret in the World.” It takes place at a theater and features magic, dance, and acrobatic performances. Once midnight has struck, the New Year is here! French people celebrate this moment by throwing paper cotillons. French people also wish a “Happy New Year,” or “Bonne Année”, to all of their close relations, so they call all their family members. Then they give each other New Year’s gifts, or “étrennes”. In general, these consist of envelopes with money in them.

Did you know? After the New Year, you should make some resolutions! In French, “New Year’s resolution” is “Bonnes résolutions”. You need to choose one or more ways in which you’re committed to improving your behavior in the coming year. Losing weight, quitting smoking, or playing more sports are the resolutions chosen most often by French people.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question!

Do you know what French people traditionally have to do when they pass under a sprig of mistletoe, and at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s?

Custom dictates that French people should kiss under a sprig of mistletoe. This plant is used as an ornament for the holiday season. It symbolizes prosperity and longevity. The legend states that couples who kiss under the mistletoe will be married within the year.

Happy New Year!
Bonne Année!

2. Must-Know French Words & Phrases for the New Year!

French Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year

année

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in France could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

minuit

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

nouvel an

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

How to Celebrate New Year

4- Party

fête

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

danse

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

champagne

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

feu d’artifice

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

8- Countdown

compte à rebours

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts – a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

vacances du nouvel an

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday – to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

confettis

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

Réveillon

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

toast

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

résolution

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

parade

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At FrenchPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what French New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the French word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at FrenchPod101 – what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your French friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

lire plus

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more French in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your French language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

Passer plus de temps avec ma famille.

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

perdre du poids

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

économiser de l’argent

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to FrenchPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year – it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

Arrêter de fumer.

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

Apprendre quelque chose de nouveau.

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess – no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

moins boire

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

Faire du sport régulièrement.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

manger sainement

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study French with FrenchPod101

étudier le français avec FrenchPod101.com

Of course! You can only benefit from learning French, especially with us! Learning how to speak French can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. FrenchPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special French new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in French, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read French incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with FrenchPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in French could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in French – it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with French – learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with FrenchPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn French! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that FrenchPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning French at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with French that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning French with FrenchPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in French

How to Say Merry Christmas in French

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in French? FrenchPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of French Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native French speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, FrenchPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in French!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in France
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in France

Christmas Words in French

Like those in many other countries, French people celebrate Christmas on December 25th. Indeed, for a long time before it became a secular state, France had a Catholic government. This is why many celebrations and public holidays have religious origins. For French people, even for non-believers, Christmas remains a very important celebration. In this lesson, you will learn how to celebrate it French-style!

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

What special meal is served at Christmas, only in Provence?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

During the holiday period, many Christmas markets, or marchés de Noël, are held in different French cities. The most famous one takes place in Strasbourg, in Alsace. French people can buy Christmas decorations there, as well as regional products and food, including cakes. People also drink hot wine, or vin chaud. This is a hot drink, generally made with red wine and spices, that is drunk during winter.

In France, Christmas is a family holiday. It’s an occasion to see many family members including parents, grandparents, and cousins. French people celebrate Christmas in their home, which they decorate to mark the occasion. The Christmas tree, or sapin de Noël, is an indispensable element in this. Whether real or artificial, it dominates the living room. The presents are put in front of it, and it is decorated with Christmas ornaments and garlands.

The colors most often used by French people to decorate their houses are red, gold, silver, and green.

Christmas Eve, or Réveillon de Noël, is celebrated on December 24. A real feast is served. Traditionally, it is made up of a Christmas turkey, or dinde de Noël, with a log cake for dessert. French people also eat oysters or snails. As for the presents, they are given out at either midnight, after the meal, or the next morning. French children believe in Santa Claus or Père Noël and it’s not rare to have a family member dress up in order to give the kids their gifts.

The most well-known French Christmas song is “Petit Papa Noël,” which means “Little Santa Claus.” It was written by Raymond Vinci and the music was composed by Henri Martinet. It tells the story of a little boy talking to Santa Claus.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question!

In Provence, a Christmas meal is served that’s different from what you’ll find in other regions of France. It’s the thirteen desserts. Traditionally, they represent Jesus and the twelve apostles. The thirteen desserts are made up of dry fruits, fresh fruits, chocolates, and other sweets.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Joyeux Noël !

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in French? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Joyeux Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Bonne année!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Joyeux Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Bonnes vacances d’hiver!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

À l’année prochaine!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Amicalement

An informal, friendly phrase to write in French Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Bonnes vacances!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in French, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Profitez des vacances!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in French, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in French! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At FrenchPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Noël

This is the French word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in French will include this word!

2- Snow

neige

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

flocon de neige

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

bonhomme de neige

As you guessed – a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

dinde

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

couronne

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

renne

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Père Noël

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

lutin

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph le renne au nez rouge

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

pôle nord

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

traîneau

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

cadeau

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

cloche

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

cheminée

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

cheminée

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

jour de Noël

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

décoration

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

bas

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

houx

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

maison en pain d’épice

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

bâton de sucre d’orge

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

gui

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in French, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in French! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. FrenchPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit FrenchPod101!

We don’t just say this – we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From French for Absolute Beginners to Advanced French, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, FrenchPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct French. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in FrenchPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!

How To Say ‘Thank you’ in French

How to Say Thank You in French

In most cultures, it is custom to express gratitude in some way or another. The dictionary defines gratitude as follows: it is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. Giving a sincere, thankful response to someone’s actions or words is often the ‘glue’ that keeps relationships together. This is true in most societies! Doing so in a foreign country also shows your respect and appreciation for the culture. Words have great power – use these ones sincerely and often!

Table of Contents

  1. 12 Ways to say ‘Thank you’ in French
  2. Video Lesson: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’ in 3 Minutes
  3. Infographic & Audio Lesson: Survival Phrases – Thank You
  4. Video Lesson: ‘Thank You’ in 31 Languages
  5. How FrenchPod101 Can Help You

So, how do you say ‘Thank you’ in French? You can learn easily! Below, FrenchPod101 brings you perfect translations and pronunciation as you learn the most common ways French speakers say ‘Thanks’ in various situations.

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1. 12 Ways to say ‘Thank you’ in French

1- Thank you.

Merci !

The magical words that can bring a smile to any face. For one day, truly mean it whenever you say these words, and see how this lifts your spirit too!

2- That’s very kind of you.

C’est très gentil à vous/ à toi.

This phrase is appropriate when someone clearly goes out of their way to give good service, or to offer you a kindness.

3- Thanks for your kind words!

Merci pour ces gentilles paroles!

Someone paid you a compliment and made you feel good? That is kind of him/her, so express your gratitude!

4- Thank you for coming today.

Je vous remercie d’être venu(e)s aujourd’hui.

This welcoming phrase should be part of your arsenal if you’re conducting more formal meetings with French speakers. If you’re hosting a party, this is also a good phrase when you greet your French guests!

5- Thank you for your consideration.

Merci pour votre considération.

This is a more formal, almost solemn way to thank someone for their thoughtfulness and sensitivity towards you. It is also suitable to use when a native speaker has to consider something you submit, like a job application, a project or a proposal. You are thanking them, in essence, for time and effort they are about to, or have spent on your submission.

6- Thanks a lot!

Merci beaucoup!

This means the same as ‘Thank you’, but with energy and enthusiasm added! It means almost the same as ‘thank you so much’ in French. Use this in an informal setting with your French friends or teachers.

7- Teachers like you are not easy to find.

Les enseignants comme vous ne sont pas faciles à trouver.

Some phrases are compliments, which express gratitude by inference. This is one of them. If you’re particularly impressed with your FrenchPod101 teacher, this is an excellent phrase to memorize!

8- Thank you for spending time with us.

Merci de passer du temps avec nous.

Any host at a gathering with French speakers, such as a meeting or a party, should have this under his/her belt! Use it when you’re saying goodbye or busy closing a meeting. It could also be another lovely way to thank your French language teacher for her time.

9- Thank you for being patient and helping me improve.

Merci d’être patient(e) et de m’aider à m’améliorer.

This phrase is another sure way to melt any formal or informal French teacher’s heart! Teaching is not easy, and often a lot of patience is required from the teacher. Thank him/her for it! It’s also a good phrase to use if you work in France, and want to thank your trainer or employer. You will go a long way towards making yourself a popular employee – gratitude is the most attractive trait in any person!

10- You’re the best teacher ever!

Vous êtes le/la meilleur(e) professeur(e) que je n’ai jamais eu(e)!

This is also an enthusiastic way to thank your teacher by means of a compliment. It could just make their day!

11- Thank you for the gift.

Merci pour le cadeau.

This is a good phrase to remember when you’re the lucky recipient of a gift. Show your respect and gratitude with these words.

12- I have learned so much thanks to you.

J’ai tellement appris grâce à vous.

What a wonderful compliment to give a good teacher! It means they have succeeded in their goal, and you’re thankful for it.

2. Video Lesson: Learn to Say ‘Thank You’ in 3 Minutes

In French, you only need one word for expressing gratitude: merci. And for emphasis, you can say merci beaucoup. In either case, in no situation is merci or merci beaucoup considered inappropriate. You can use them as often as you like without regard for age difference, gender difference, formality, or casualness. However, since there is no other way to express gratitude in speech, we often say merci in a mechanical way. In the Cultural Insight section of this lesson, we will look at two ways in which to make merci more personal.

Cultural Insights
A Little Something Extra Politeness-Wise

As we just mentioned, you can never say merci too much in France. Showing gratitude, especially for newcomers, can be a very successful way to have the French warm up to you. So one way to make merci more personal is to use it generously. For instance, if you ask a question in a shop or restaurant, it is a good idea to make eye contact and say merci or merci beaucoup at the end of the exchange. This is the same when getting off a bus or out of a taxi, after an exchange with a waiter, or really after speaking with anyone. If you make the extra effort to look the person in the eye and say merci, the person will feel acknowledged. It can be refreshing, especially in a culture that can be quite formal and make gratitude somewhat automatic. However, on the flip side, don’t be surprised if you don’t have as many mercis coming back to you-at first.

You can show gratitude with people you don’t know personally by adding the word monsieur or madame at the end. For instance, if someone-say a shopkeeper-helps you and you want to show your appreciation while keeping a distance, say Merci, monsieur (“Thank you, sir”.) for a man and Merci, madame (“Thank you, madam.” ) for a woman. In fact, you can add monsieur or madame at the end of any address to a stranger to make it ring with more politeness and respect.

On the run to France? Wait! You can’t go without some basic language phrases under your belt! Especially if you’re heading to meet your prospective employer! Either in person or online, knowing how to say ‘Thank you’ in the French language will only improve their impression of you! FrenchPod101 saves you time with this short lesson that nevertheless packs a punch. Learn to say ‘Thank you’ in French in no time!

3. Audio Lesson: Survival Phrases – Thank You

5 Ways to Say Thank You in French

Perhaps you think it’s unimportant that you don’t know what ‘Thank you’ is in French, or that it’s too difficult a language to learn. Yet, as a traveler or visitor, you will be surprised at how far you can go using a little bit of French in France!

Click Here to Listen to the Free Audio Lesson!

At FrenchPod101, we offer you a few ways of saying ‘Thank you’ in French that you have no excuse not knowing, as they’re so simple and easy to learn. The lesson is geared to aid your ‘survival’ in formal and informal situations in France, so don’t wait! You will never have to google ‘How do you say thanks in French’ again…!

4. ‘Thank You’ in 31 Languages

For the global traveler in a hurry, here are 31 ways to say ‘Thank you’! These are the first words you need to learn in any foreign language – it is sure to smooth your way with native speakers by showing your gratitude for services rendered, and your respect for their culture! Learn and know how to correctly say ‘Thank you’ in 31 different languages in this short video.

5. Why would FrenchPod101 be the perfect choice to learn French?

However, you need not stop at ‘Thank you’ in French – why not learn to speak the language?! You have absolutely nothing to lose. Research has shown that learning a new language increases intelligence and combats brain-aging. Also, the ability to communicate with native speakers in their own language is an instant way to make friends and win respect! Or imagine you know how to write ‘Thank you’ to that special French friend after a date…he/she will be so impressed!

Thank You

FrenchPod101 Has Special Lessons, Tools and Resources to Teach You How to Say Thank You and Other Key Phrases

With more than a decade of experience behind us, we have taught thousands of satisfied users to speak foreign languages. How do we do this? First, we take the pain out of learning! At FrenchPod101, students are assisted as they master vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation through state-of-the-art and fun online learning methods. A library replete with learning resources allows for you to learn at your own pace and in your own space! Resources include thousands of video and audio recordings, downloadable PDF lessons and plenty of learning apps for your mobile devices. Each month, we add benefits with FREE bonuses and gifts to improve your experience.

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We accommodate all levels and types of learners, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, and FrenchPod101 is free for anyone to sign up. However, you can choose to fast track your fluency with lesson customization and increased interactive learning and practicing. Upgrade to Premium, or Premium PLUS to enhance your experience and greatly expedite your learning. With this type of assistance, and pleasurable effort on your part, you will speak French in a very short period of time!

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Best of all is that you’re never alone! We believe that practice is the holy grail of learning any new language, and we gear our courses to ensure lots of it. Enroll with us, and you gain immediate access to our lively forum where we meet and greet, and discuss your burning questions. Our certified teachers are friendly and helpful, and you are very likely to practice your first ‘Thanks!’ in French on him/her, AND mean it! Hurry up, and sign up now – you will thank us for it.

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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From FrenchPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at FrenchPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn French together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study French with FrenchPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From Celine, Sam, Angele and the whole FrenchPod101.com Team!