15 Essential French Phrases to Know Before You Go to France

 
 

Okay, so you have a week or so until you go to France and are completely discouraged from attempting to learn the language. I got you. My best friend, who was born and raised in France, compiled a list of the top fifteen essential French phrases before my last trip to France.

Here are the crucial French phrases to memorize before your trip, to ensure a smoother travel experience, and to demonstrate respect to the locals:

 
  1. Merci = Thank you

  2. Pardon = Pardon

  3. Oui = Yes

  4. Non = No

  5. Désolé = Sorry

  6. S'il vous plaît = Please

  7. Bonjour = Hello, good morning (can use any time of day)

  8. Salut = Hi and goodbye

  9. D’accord = Okay

  10. Bonsoir = Good evening

  11. Comment ça va? = How are you doing?

  12. Je m'appelle = My name is

  13. Je ne parle pas français = I do not speak French

  14. L'addition s'il vous plait = The check, please

  15. Enchanté = Pleasure (used after making an acquaintance)

 
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Extras

  • Plus de vin s'il vous plaît = More wine, please

  • Je suis perdu = I am lost

    These phrases can be used in tandem, after you drink too much wine and get lost :)

How to Improve Pronunciation for Free

YouTube

For pronunciation practice I suggest watching some French YouTube videos on repeat, and really listening to their accent — if you get lazy with pronunciation the French will not understand you. Here is a video I like.

Duo Lingo

Download the free app and practice with the intro lessons about 2-4 weeks before you go.


The French Experiment

A cool digital resource to learn French from native French speakers. I haven’t used it, but it looks ideal if you’re trying to learn on a budget.


Best Option

If you have any friends who actually speak French, learn from them! French requires the use of different muscles that English does not. I know this may sound weird, but watch the way a person’s mouth moves when they speak French—phonetics is critical to understanding how to achieve proper pronunciation.

 
 
 

other reading you might dig

 
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The French aren’t rude, they’re misunderstood

Cultural Commentary

 
 
 
Theresa Cantafio