Essential French Phrases to Learn before your Journey to Paris

London Guided Tours

If there is one thing the people of France are proud of, it is their native language. Throaty and lilting, many find French beautiful yet difficult to pronounce or understand. So, many on a Paris tour immediately start in the English language when addressing the French. If the one they are speaking to is not all that confident in English, then this can come off as somewhat rude. So, you must have in your vocabulary some essential French phrases before making the trip to the capital city. Here are some phrases and words for you, and tips on ways to make sure the French people react positively to your French politeness and you.

Greetings in French

Greetings are the basic phrases as far as the French are concerned because these are a sign of politeness. Here are the important ones to know and when you should use these.


You perhaps know this if you are into movies and stuff. This is the French word for “Hello”. Shopworkers, waiters, doormen, and virtually any French person you meet in Paris will not just address you with bonjour, but they also wait for you to greet back. It is the ultimate example of French politeness. Besides, pronounce the ‘r’ in bonjour as softly as possible – it is an extremely throaty sound.


The French word for “Thank You” is nearly as essential as bonjour. In other words, you have to say it when leaving a store, even when the one working there did not help you when you were browsing through items. When exiting an establishment, the French pairs ‘merci’ with the following phrase.

Au revoir

It is the French word for “Goodbye”, but you have to use it in especially the sort of situation mentioned above. Whenever you leave someplace, people say “merci, au revoir” to you and it is polite in France to say this back. If your teacher has told you to say “adieu” in this situation, do not listen to his or her advice as it is a farewell with a slightly morbid connotation.

Ordering Food

The last thing you want when in Paris is to scare a waiter off with your aristocratic English. To order food, say, “je veux prendre” followed by the food item you would like to have or say that item followed by “s’il vous plait”.