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Essential French Phrases for Your Next Trip to France

As French Language Day is celebrated globally on the 20th of March, it’s the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of “la langue française.” Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway to Paris, a culinary adventure in Lyon, or a scenic retreat in Provence, mastering a few key French phrases can significantly enhance your experience. In celebration of French Language Day, Air France shares some essential expressions that will help you navigate the beauty of France with ease and confidence.

  1. Bonjour – Hello: This simple greeting is the cornerstone of polite French society. More than just a word, it’s a gesture of goodwill. Use it to greet shopkeepers, waiters, and locals from the moment the city wakes. It’s your first step towards forging genuine connections in this beautiful country.
  2. Merci – Thank you: Perhaps one of the most powerful phrases in any language, expressing gratitude with “merci” is essential. It reflects not only your manners but also your appreciation for the French way of life. Whether someone has provided directions, served you a meal, or helped you in any small way, this word leaves a lasting impression of respect and thankfulness.
  3. S’il vous plait – Please: This phrase is the golden key to polite request in France. It softens demands and shows that you are mindful of the French etiquette. Whether you’re asking for a croissant at a bakery or seeking assistance, adding “s’il vous plaît” is a sign of respect that is always appreciated.
  4. Excusez-moi – Excuse me: Navigating the bustling streets of Paris or getting the attention of a waiter in a busy café, “excusez-moi” is incredibly versatile. It’s your polite way into conversations or out of crowded spaces, making it an indispensable part of your French vocabulary arsenal.
  5. Où est…? – Where is…?: This phrase is a lifeline for travellers. From finding landmarks to locating essential services like restrooms or metro stations, “Où est…?” opens up a world of exploration. Pair it with a smile, and you’re likely to not only find your way but also engage in delightful interactions with locals.
  6. Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?: While you’re immersing yourself in French, this phrase can be a bridge when you need more complex information or are in a tricky situation. It’s a respectful nod to the native language before transitioning to English, often leading to more helpful and patient responses.
  7. Combien ça coûte? – How much does it cost?: France’s markets, boutiques, and cafes are full of treasures. This question not only helps you navigate purchases but also engages you in the local commerce and culture, offering a peek into the French way of life and its values.
  8. Je voudrais du champagne, s’il vous plait– There’s nothing quite like embarking on an international adventure and unwinding with a glass of bubbly up in the air. Given that France is the birthplace of champagne, Air France stands as the sole airline globally to offer champagne across all cabin classes. So, use this phrase to impress your flight attendant and enjoy some of the country’s best champagne while enjoying your direct flight.
  9. Je ne parle pas français– I don’t speak French: Honesty is valued, and this phrase is a humble admission of your linguistic limitations. It often earns you appreciation for trying, and locals might switch to simpler French or English, ensuring better understanding and assistance.
  10. Au revoir – Goodbye: This is not just a farewell; it’s a warm way to express hope for future meetings. It signifies the end of an encounter but leaves room for more, embodying the French perspective on relationships and social interactions.

Immersing yourself in the French language doesn’t just open up the doors to more authentic interactions; it shows respect for the rich traditions and heritage of France. With a commitment to excellence in service and a focus on promoting French culture, Air France strives to provide passengers with an exceptional travel experience. Before embarking on any French adventure, these phrases will not only serve as a linguistic toolkit but also as a bridge to the essence of French society. Bon voyage!


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