20 must-know French phrases for your visit to Paris

In today’s article, I will share with you 20 must-know French phrases for your visit to Paris. Because some Parisians don’t speak such a good English, that is why they don’t particularly like to speak English and try to avoid to.

Parisians love it when visitors make the effort to speak their language. They will be much more friendly and willing to help you, if you know a few words of French. Plus, your stay in Paris will be much more entertaining and interesting if you try to speak the locals language. It will be kind of a challenge for you, because the French language is not that easy!

It is always so much fun to learn a new language! Here are a few French phrases you will definitely use during your stay in Paris. Read on and find out the twenty must-know French phrases for your visit to Paris!

Où se trouve la station de métro la plus proche?

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Où se trouve la station de métro la plus proche? means “where is the nearest metro station?” This question will probably be very useful, especially if you’re lost in the city. Because in case you get lost, you can join the nearest metro station to check your location, then have a look at your metro map to know where you are. Just remember that “où se trouve” or “où est” (/u/ /e/) means “where is -” so if you want to know where something is, ask “où est” and add the thing you are looking for. For instance: où est la Tour Eiffel? Où est le Musée du Louvre? Où est la rue de Rivoli?

> If you want to know more about the Parisian metro, check this article.

Une baguette, s’il vous plaît.

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Some people from abroad might picture the Parisian as a woman or a man wearing a beret with a baguette under the arm. While wearing a beret is not that common in Paris, having a baguette under the arm definitely happens!

Une baguette, s’il vous plaît” might be one of the sentences the Parisians say the most! Every single day the locals go to their favorite boulangerie (bakery) and get their baguette. You should do the same at least once! If you ask for a baguette in French, the boulanger (baker) will be much more kind to you. And the experience will be more pleasant for you, because you will feel like a true Parisian!

> Read about our favorite Parisian clichés.
> Learn more about Parisian bakeries.

Je m’excuse.

You might eventually need to use this French phrase. It simply means “I’m sorry”. If you fint it hard to pronounce, you can also say “excusez-moi” or “pardon“. It can be useful to start a conversation with a stranger to ask for information, but also in case you accidentally walk over someone’s feet, for instance.

Je ne comprends pas.

If you’re having communication issues with your interlocutor, you will certainly use this phrase which means “I don’t understand”. By saying “Je ne comprends pas”, he or she will understand that you’re not getting what she or he is saying.

Où sont les toilettes?

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If you need to use the bathroom but don’t know where to find it, say the following phrase: “Où sont les toilettes?“, which means “where are the toilets?” in English.

You will find public toilets around the city, but you need to know that you will have to pay to use them. Moreover, they are not always very clean. So, if I were you, I would simply get into a café, have a drink or something to use and take the opportunity to use the toilets.

L’addition, s’il vous plaît.

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At a restaurant, once you’ve finished your meal, you can ask the waiter for the bill. Say “l’addition, s’il vous plaît” which means “the bill, please”.

Bonjour / Bonsoir

You can greet the Parisians by saying “bonjour“, which means “hello”. This word is actually a combination of the two words “bon” and “jour“, when translated they mean “good” and “day”. It’s very polite and friendly to greet the people you meet, it will be very appreciated by the locals.

Also, as the sun sets and the day gets darker, you can start saying “bonsoir” which means “good evening”.

Parlez-vous anglais?

If you need some help, you can ask your interlocutor if they know how to speak English. If he does, the communication will be easier and you won’t have to make a large amount of effort to speak French. Ask them “parlez-vous anglais?” – do you speak English?

The French don’t speak much English, but some of them know basic English. So, by starting the dialogue with some French phrases, you will show you’re willing to make an effort and that it would be very nice of them if they could do the same.

Pouvez-vous m’aider?

Pouvez-vous m’aider?” means “can you help me?” This can also be a great phrase to start a conversation if you need help for something. It’s okay if you don’t speak French, but this question will set the tone and your interlocutor will immediately know you need help for something or require information.

Don’t be embarassed of your French skills and go for it! Try to speak to the locals in French. You will experience the city and its lifestyle a lot more if you do.

Je parle un peu français.

This means “I speak a little French“. Let them know you can say a few phrases in French. This will show them you are curious and an adventurer, because everyone knows learning a new language is quite a challenge!

> Read our top 10 French words that English people love!

Combien ça coûte?

Paris is a pretty pricey city, so you will surely need to ask for the prices many times. “Combien ça coûte?” means “how much does it cost?”

You will need to know the prices for the ticket entrances to Parisian landmarks, but also for food, travel tickets and items you will want to buy during your stay.

Je souhaite aller à…

There are countless landmarks and highlights for you to see and visit in the city of Paris. If you’re the type of person that plans their trip ahead of time and already know everything they want to see during their trip, you will probably need a few tips. Actually, even if you don’t, because the city will be new to you and there will be many places for you to explore.

Don’t hesitate to ask the locals for informations. Tell them “Je souhaite aller à…” and then complete the sentence with the place you wish to visit. This phrase means “I want to go to…”

Pouvez-vous m’indiquer le chemin?

After telling your interlocutor “Je souhaite aller à…“, you can ask them “Pouvez-vous m’indiquer le chemin?“, which means “can you tell us the way?”

These simple phrases will allow you to have a dialogue with your interlocutor and get the informations you need.

Tout droit / À gauche / À droite

If they agree to help you, you will need to pay attention to the words they pronounce because they might not know all the words in English.

Tout droit” means “straight ahead”, “à gauche” means “left” and “à droite” means “right”.

Pourriez-vous nous prendre en photo, s’il vous plaît?

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This question means “could you take our picture, please?” You will probably use it in case you’re visiting a monument or a museum, and want a proper photo in it rather than a selfie. Plus, it will turn out to be another reason to come in contact with the locals.

> Read our article about the best places for great photos in Paris.

Acceptez-vous les cartes étrangères?

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Acceptez-vous les cartes étrangères?” means “do you accept foreign cards?” While purchasing an item or an item while in Paris, you might check with the cashier if you can pay by card.

Où puis-je prélever de l’argent?

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If they don’t accept foreign cards, you may have to withdraw money at an ATM. If you want to know where to find the nearest ATM, ask your interlocutor “Où puis-je préveler de l’argent?” (where can I withdraw money?), they will indicate you the closest place for you to do so.

Merci.

The locals thoroughly enjoy it when visitors are polite and show appreciation. Just like “s’il vous plaît” (please), don’t forget to thank them for their time and time by saying “merci“. If you want to show how much you’ve appreciated the time they granted you, tell them “merci beaucoup” which means “thank you so much!”

Parlez plus lentement, s’il vous plaît.

If you’re having a conversation with a local but are having a hard time understanding everything they’re saying, ask them to speak more slowly, but don’t forget to say “s’il vous plaît“. Otherwise, it will sound like a command and you will sound very rude!

You know know the 20 must-know French phrases for your visit to Paris! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it has been helpful to you. If you practice these few sentences before your trip, you will be able to have a dialogue with the locals. They will be more open to help you and will certainly teach you some new words! Come to Paris and bring your biggest smile. People are always sensitive to a genuine smile, even if your French is not that great. If you need further information about anything, don’t hesitate to contact us. Finally, I strongly advise you to join one of our tours. The local guides will guide you through the city, share with you the best places and stories, and will definitely teach you a lot of French! So, seize the opportunity to explore the city with a Parisian! See you soon!

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