Essential French Phrases to Master for Seamless Travel

While many French locals speak English, making an effort to communicate in their native tongue can go a long way in fostering connections and navigating through daily interactions. Here are some essential French phrases to help you feel more at ease during your travels.

French phrases to know when traveling

Greetings and Politeness

Start your conversations on a friendly note with these basic greetings:

  • Bonjour (bohn-zhoor) – Good morning/Hello
  • Bonsoir (bohn-swahr) – Good evening
  • Merci (mehr-see) – Thank you
  • S’il vous plaît (seel voo pleh) – Please
  • Excusez-moi (ehk-skew-zay mwah) – Excuse me

Getting Around

Navigating a new city can be challenging, but these phrases will help you ask for directions and transportation options:

  • Où est… ? (oo eh) – Where is…?
  • La gare (lah gahr) – The train station
  • L’aéroport (lay-ehr-oh-por) – The airport
  • Métro (may-troh) – Subway
  • Un plan de la ville (uhn plahn duh lah veel) – A city map

Ordering Food

Sampling French cuisine is a must, and these phrases will come in handy when dining out:

  • La carte, s’il vous plaît (lah kart, seel voo pleh) – The menu, please
  • L’addition, s’il vous plaît (lah-dee-syon, seel voo pleh) – The bill, please
  • Je voudrais… (zhuh voo-dray) – I would like…
  • L’eau (loh) – Water
  • L’addition, s’il vous plaît (lah-dee-syon, seel voo pleh) – The bill, please

Emergency Situations

It’s always wise to be prepared for unexpected situations. These phrases can be invaluable during emergencies:

  • Aidez-moi (eh-dey mwah) – Help me
  • Police (poh-lees) – Police
  • Hôpital (oh-pee-tahl) – Hospital
  • Je suis perdu(e) (zhuh swee pair-doo) – I am lost


Exploring local markets and boutiques is a delightful part of any trip. Be sure to use these phrases while shopping:

  • Combien ça coûte ? (kohm-byen sah koot) – How much does it cost?
  • J’aime ceci (zhem suh-see) – I like this
  • Où sont les toilettes ? (oo sohn lay twa-let) – Where are the toilets?
  • Pouvez-vous m’aider ? (poo-veh voo may-dey) – Can you help me?

Mastering these essential French phrases will not only enhance your travel experience but also allow you to connect with locals on a deeper level. While many French people appreciate the effort to speak their language, don’t be afraid to use these phrases even if your pronunciation isn’t perfect. The key is to approach each interaction with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Bon voyage!

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