Home Language HacksFrench 60+ French Phrases for Travel You Need to Know 📚FREE Printable Cheat-Sheet

60+ French Phrases for Travel You Need to Know 📚FREE Printable Cheat-Sheet

by Michele
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Essential French Phrases for Travel and Printable Guide
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Order your petit-déjeuner (breakfast) or buy your billets (tickets) to the Louvre all in French! Here are the most useful French phrases for travel you need to know.

Learning some French will offer you further insight into the French culture, mentality, and way of life. The ability to speak even un peu français (a little bit of French) and avoid making these French faux pas will enhance your travel experience and open the doors to unique connections with the locals.

France is the world’s top tourist destination, attracting more than 79,5 million visitors a year! That’s why French is the next language in my travel phrase guide series. Not only that, but speaking French also comes in handy when travelling to Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Monaco, French Polynesia, the Seychelles amongst other places.

Why else should you learn French? Well, it makes learning other languages, especially Romance languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian much easier. 

Keep practising!
60+ French Travel Phrases Cheat-Sheet! (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide with 60+ French travel phrases. Includes English and French translations with pronunciation guide. Apprenons ensemble! (Let's learn together!)

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Top French Phrases for Travel - Louvre Museum


Travelling to France? Don’t be treated like a tourist! Live your best travel experiences and learn France for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant or a taxi driver who has “taken you for a ride”.  In addition to my free French travel phrase guide, I’ve made it even easier for you to master the French language so you can create lifelong memories as you mingle with locals, get local tips, avoid tourist traps, and make new friends. Join my popular French course here.


Let’s take a quick look at the French language so you’re a bit more clued up on its origin, use, and vocabulary. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed bringing it together. If you have any requests for other languages, let me know in the comments section!

Where is French spoken?

Top French Phrases for Travel - Arc de Triomphe at sunsetDid you know that more than 354 million people speak French on five continents? That’s a lot of Bonjour-ing!

French is the third most spoken language in Europe, after German and English and has official-language status in 29 countries, including: Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo and Vanuatu. French is even one of six official languages of the United Nations.

It seems like nearly everyone wants to learn French, it’s the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world!

And the best way to learn it? Well, France operates the biggest international network of cultural institutes, which run French-language courses close to a million learners. My two favourite ways to learn French is by attending language classes – so I’m not only held accountable but also for the social aspect –  and going on language holiday too!

A Brief History of the French Language

Top French Phrases for Travel - Pont Alexandre IIIWay back in 842 AD French first appeared in writing. Before then, Latin was the language used for literature throughout Europe. Later, during the 10th and 11th centuries, French appeared in a number of documents and religious writings. However, French literature didn’t start to take off until the late 12th and early 13th century.

The French and English languages have a pretty mixed-up history. Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, Norman French was adopted as the language of power on the British Isles.

For the next 400 years, French was the language of the nobility and of most official documents. King Henry V put a stop to that when he went to war with France, but because the two languages existed in parallel for so long, the English language is peppered with words of French origin, many of which can be traced back to French roots. This means that you actually already know a lot of French, even if you don’t think you do.

Now for the tricky stuff!

Keep practising!
60+ French Travel Phrases Cheat-Sheet! (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide with 60+ French travel phrases. Includes English and French translations with pronunciation guide. Apprenons ensemble! (Let's learn together!)

I promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
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French Pronunciation Tips

Top French Phrases for Travel - Montparnasse Tower at sunsetThe French alphabet looks very similar to the English alphabet, but there are a few key differences.

There is a total of 26 letters in the French alphabet. Standard French contains 13 oral vowels and up to 4 nasal vowels, but there are 5 additional accented letters that can be applied to change the sound of a letter.

Here are some helpful pronunciation tips:

Using Liaisons

One of the fundamental rules of pronouncing French (and many other Latin-based languages) is that everything has to flow. That’s one of the reasons why French sounds so beautiful.

If you’re speaking French correctly, everything should sound like a continuous melody.

That’s where liaisons come in.

Liaisons are a phonetic link between two words that may sound awkward if left unconnected.

Let’s take a look at some examples where they are used when speaking:

  • After pronouns e.g. vous avez sounds like vooz-ah-vey not voo ah-vey
  • Numbers and nouns e.g. deux amis sounds like derz-ah-mee not der ah-me
  • One syllable prepositions e.g chez eux sounds like shez-uur not sheh uur

And liaisons that are forbidden when speaking:

  • When using full names e.g.
  • After et (and)

Liaisons may seem complicated at first, but they will become easier the more you listen to spoken French. After a while, you’ll automatically be able to notice where a liaison is needed (and where it isn’t) and how to make it sound natural when speaking.

What Not to Pronounce in French

Much like English, the French language isn’t written phonetically. The same sound can be represented by several different combinations of letters, and there are many cases of silent French letters. Two of the most well known are the silent “e” and the silent “h.”

The Silent “e”

The letter “e” is often silent in French, especially at the end of a word. Here are some examples:

Rue (road/street) is pronounced roo not roo-ee and inacceptable (unacceptable) is pronounced an-ah-sep-tah-bil not an-ah-sep-tah-ble

Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to masculine and feminine adjectives and nouns.

In the case of feminine adjectives and nouns, this typically means that the final consonant of the masculine form will now be pronounced. So, the masculine ouvert, meaning open in the masculine form and pronounced oo-ver, will become ouverte in the feminine form and pronounced oo-vert. The ‘e’ makes the final letter sounded.

The Final Consonant

As you’ve probably already noticed, there are a tonne of French letters that simply aren’t pronounced at the end of words. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!

In French, silent letters, or lettres muettes, have rules and exceptions just like many other linguistic concepts.

In general, the final consonants of a word are usually silent in French except in some cases of the letters c, f, l or r.

Just remember this simple rule, the consonants in the word ‘careful’ are always pronounced.

For example,

Avec (with) is pronounced ah-vek

Cinq (five) is pronounced saank

Hiver (winter) is pronounced ee-ver

The general rule regarding French word endings is that when in doubt, you probably don’t pronounce it. But, French is full of exceptions!

The Infamous “r”

For many English speakers, the French “r” can be a source of frustration. To pronounce it, you’ll need to use your throat and imagine you’re trying to gargle. The French “r” is pronounced in the same place as the English “k”, but with your throat closed.

The Silent “h”

As you’ve probably noticed from every French speaker’s failed attempt to say the word “hamburger” in English, the “h” in French is a silent letter no matter where it’s located in a word.

The only exception to this is when the preceding letter is “c,” in which case the “ch” combination makes a “sh” sound or “k” sound.

Here are a few examples of the silent “h”:

Le haricot vert (French bean) is pronounced leh ah-ree-coh ver

Huit (eight) is pronounced weet

Hiver (winter) is pronounced ee-ver

Vocabulary

Top French Phrases for Travel - Cruise down the Seine RiverWe anglophones don’t have the greatest reputation for speaking foreign languages, but French is the one language in which many of us can at least utter a few words.

Admittedly there are a few finicky grammar rules to learn, but generally speaking, English grammar corresponds relatively closely to French grammar.

Consider words in English that end with ible and -able, these are the same in French, only the pronunciation changes. So, the French word ‘possible’ sounds like poss-ee-bleh and ‘comfortable’ becomes kom-for-tah-bleh.

Then we have English words ending in -ent and -ant which also come from French and have the same spelling and the same meaning. So, the word, différent sounds like diff-er-ohnt and important sounds like ahm-poor-tahnt. The ‘t’ at the end is just slightly sounded.

Had enough? Ok, one more! Words in English ending in -ary like contrary become -aire in French. So, ‘contrary’ becomes contraire and sounds like kon-trair. There are so many rules like this, so you can see just how easy learning French can be.

Keep practising!
60+ French Travel Phrases Cheat-Sheet! (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide with 60+ French travel phrases. Includes English and French translations with pronunciation guide. Apprenons ensemble! (Let's learn together!)

I promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
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Here are top 10 French phrases for travel you SHOULD Know

Top French Phrases for travellers

Top French Phrases for Travel Downloadable Guide with Pronunciation Tips

Want the infographic to take with you? Scroll to the bottom of the page.

Greetings
Essentials
Questions
Eating Out
Getting Around
Numbers
Days
Emergencies


English French Pronunciation

Greetings

   
Hello Salut sah-loo
Good morning Bonjour bohn-jur
Good evening Bonsoir bohn-swah
Good night Bonne nuit bohn nwee
Goodbye Au revoir oh rev-war
How are you? Comment allez-vous? kohm-mohn ahl-leh-voo
I’m well, and you? Ça va bien, et vous? sa va byen, eh voo
Good, thanks Ça va bien, merci sa va byen, mer-see

Essentials

   
Please S’il vous plaît sil voo pleh
Thank you Merci mer-see
You’re welcome De rien deh ree-en
Yes Oui wee
No No noh
Excuse me Pardonnez-moi par-don-eh-mwah
I’m sorry Je suis désolé jeh swee deh-zol-leh
I don’t understand Je ne comprends pas jehn kom-pron pah
Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais? par-leh-voo on-gleh

Questions

   
How much is…? Combien coûte? kohm-byen koot
Where is…? Où c’est? oo seht?
When? Quand? kohn
May I please have…? Est-ce que je pourrais avoir…? es-kerh jeh poo-ray av-war

Eating Out

   
Beer Bière byair
Wine Vin vahn
Water Eau oh
I don’t eat… Je ne mange pas de…. jehn monj pah
I’m a vegetarian Je suis végétarien (masc.) / végétarienne (fem.) je swee ve-jeh-tair-ree-an / ve-jeh-tair-ree-en
the bill, please L’addition, s’il vous plaît lah-dee-zyon, sil voo pleh

Getting Around

   
Left Gauche gawsh
Right Droite drwah
Straight ahead Tout droite too dwat
Turn left Tournez à gauche tor-ney ah gawsh
Turn right Tournez à droite tor-ney ah drwat
Bus stop Arrêt de bus ah-ret deh boos
Train station Gare gaar
Airport Aéroport ah-eh-ro-por
Entrance Entrée ohn-treh
Exit Sortie sor-tee

Numbers

   
1 un uhn
2 deux durh
3 trois twah
4 quatre kahtre
5 cinque sahnk
6 six sees
7 sept set
8 huit weet
9 neuf nurf
10 dix dees
20 vingt vahn
30 trente tront
40 quarante ka-ront
50 cinquante sank-ont
60 soixante swa-sont
70** soixante-dix swa-sont-dees
80** quatre-vingt kahr-ra-vahn
90** quatre-vingt-dix kahr-ra-vahn-dees
100 cent sohn

Days

   
Monday lundi luhn-dee
Tuesday mardi mahr-dee
Wednesday mercredi mehr-kruh-dee
Thursday jeudi zhuh-dee
Friday vendredi vahn-druh-dee
Saturday samedi sahm-dee
Sunday Dimanche dee-mahnsh

Emergencies

   
Help! À l’aide! ah led
I need a doctor J’ai besoin d’un médicin jay bez-wahn dohn meh-deh-sahn
I don’t feel well Je ne me sens pas bien jeh neh meh sahn pah byen
Call the police! Appelez la police! ap-leh lah po-lees
Fire! Au Feu! au fur

**There are a few places that use unique words for the numbers 70 (septante) and 90 (nonante), such as Belgium and Switzerland. With the numbers 80 to 89, combine the number 4, the number 20, and the ones.

For example, in French 80 is four 20s, 81 is four 20s plus 1, and so forth. (Unlike most French-speaking countries, Switzerland actually has a word for the number 80. It’s huitante.)

Keep practising!
60+ French Travel Phrases Cheat-Sheet! (Free PDF Download)

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide with 60+ French travel phrases. Includes English and French translations with pronunciation guide. Apprenons ensemble! (Let's learn together!)

I promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

Want more? Learn French with me, with Intrepid French!

How to Master French for Travel FAST

Travelling to France? Don’t be treated like a tourist! Live your best travel experiences and learn France for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant or a taxi driver who has “taken you for a ride”.  In addition to my free French travel phrase guide, I’ve made it even easier for you to master the French language so you can create lifelong memories as you mingle with locals, get local tips, avoid tourist traps, and make new friends. Join my popular French course here.

Here’s what my students are saying: 

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Have a laugh with these funny French expressions


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Top French Phrases for Travel Downloadable Guide with Pronunciation Tips


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Essential French Phrases for Travel and Printable Guide


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Over to you!

Which of these French phrases are the most useful? What other languages would you like a travel phrase guide for? Have you been to a French-speaking country?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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6 comments

Greg McAloney July 26, 2022 - 16:12

This is great. I took years of French when in school, 40-years ago and now want to re-learn and be able to get by when traveling. Merci

Reply
Salomé September 6, 2017 - 19:44

Hi! (Sorry for the Failures, I don’t speak english very well because I am french) My Name is Salomé and I am from France. I felt random on your Website and I watched you tables and the picture called ” French travel Cheat sheet “. What you’re doing is awesome because you help people open us to the World. I am proud of what you do. I want to help because I am a native speaker of French not of all the French (Canada, Belgium..) but from France. Salomé

Reply
Monique Brown August 28, 2017 - 11:52

Hey Michele, love the article, love the guide. I think there are some mistakes on the French spelling and pronuciation for the word Right.

Right =droite drrrwa (with the funny r for the French). Apart from that, what a precious website!! Well done!

Reply
Michele September 16, 2017 - 19:09

Hi Monique, thank you for correcting this typo, I’ve just fixed it now 🙂

Reply
Basil Pereira June 23, 2017 - 12:12

Hey Michele

This is so cool. Thanks for sharing it. I was I Paris about a month ago and these would have come in very handy. Keep up the good work.

Merci
Au revour

Reply
Michele June 24, 2017 - 19:11

Thanks Basil, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I hope you’ll find it useful for future travels in Francophone countries 🙂

Reply

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