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french language blog

Know Before You Go: Basic French

Alex Shaked
by Alex Shaked

September 22, 2021

2 minute read

It can be intimidating to travel to a place where you don’t speak the local language! When you travel with us, you will have your Tour Manager to help you navigate the unknown, but having a basic understanding of some key French phrases will only enrich your journey!

We have come up with a few categories that we think will help you most on your travels. From eating and travel, to simple directions and shopping, we think these phrases will be helpful on your French getaway!

Intros and Basic Etiquette:

  • Bonjour / Bonsoir: Literally meaning good day and good evening, these are acceptable ways to say hello.
  • Pardon: Did you bump into someone in a café? A quick pardon will act as an “excuse me” or “pardon me.”
  • Merci, merci beaucoup: If you need to say a quick thanks, merci is your go too and you can add beaucoup, meaning “very much.”
  • S'il vous plait: A must-know in any language, this means “please!”

Traveling and Directions
There is some good news on the travel front: The words for many means of transportation are cognates, meaning the words are the same and the pronunciation is similar in both English and French. Train, bus, and taxi are all the same word in both languages! Here are some others that may help:

  • Le Métro: This is the subway system in Paris.
  • Une Voiture: A car, sometimes “un auto.
  • Billet: Ticket. This one is useful for travel and events!
  • À la droit / À la gauche: To the right / to the left

Shopping
  • Combien ça coûte?: How much does it cost?
  • Acceptez-vous les cartes?: Do you accept cards?
  • J’ai voudrais l'addition.: I would like the bill.

This can be a lot to try to master before your trip, but fear not: Most people will appreciate seeing you at least make an attempt, and you can always refer to your Tour Manager with questions. When in doubt, simply say “Je suis désolé(e)! Je ne parle pas français!” (“I’m sorry! I don’t speak French!” As a French grammar lesson, if you need to write this down, désolée calls for a second e if you identify as female.)

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