The joy of languages

20 French Survival Phrases

France is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, with over 85 million tourists visiting the country every year. French is also one of the world’s most beautiful languages, and is definitely worth learning if you’re planning a visit!

With the help of Memrise’s exclusive Native Speaker Videos, we’ve put together 20 phrases to help you survive and even thrive on your next visit to France.

Want to learn more? Check out Memrise’s official French courses!

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1. Quoi de neuf ? / What’s up?

Don’t bother learning all that school French, a phrase like “Quoi de neuf ?” is what people really say in France!

 

2. S’il vous plaît / Please

Manners are extremely important in France, so never forget to use this phrase whenever you’re asking for something. People will also say it when giving you something, so it doubles up as “you’re welcome”!

 

3. Merci / Thank you

This one is easy to remember. It sounds like “mercy” in English! Show “mercy” every time you have to thank someone for something. And like “s’il vous plaît”, don’t forget to use it all the time!

 

4. À bientôt / See you soon

This is a nice and informal way to say goodbye to somebody. If you want to be more formal, you could say “au revoir”.

 

5. J’aime le pain / I like bread

Bread is an extremely important part of French life! You can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you like, along with delicious French jams and butter. And don’t forget to try some of France’s famous baguettes, either!

 

6. Est-ce que nous pouvons avoir … s’il vous plaît ? / Can we have … please?

Restaurants and eating out are a huge part of life in France. In many places there are set menus, where you can choose a starter, a main and a dessert for a fixed price. Use this phrase to order what you’d like!

 

7. Est-ce que vous êtes prêts à commander ? / Are you ready to order?

In French it sounds like you “command” something, rather than “ordering” it. So don’t get confused by this phrase that you’ll hear all the time!

 

8. Comme c’est formidable ! / Amazing!

This is a really important word in French. It’s also the name of a song by Belgian artist Stromae

 

9. C’est dommage ! / What a shame!

Has the restaurant run out of your favourite dessert? Oh no, “c’est dommage!”

 

10. Je ne comprends pas / I don’t understand

Essential for anyone learning any language. The French can speak quite fast sometimes and might use a lot of slang, so don’t be afraid of letting them know if you don’t understand! This one is easy to remember because it sounds like “comprehend” in English.

 

11. Je viens d’Angleterre / I’m from England

The English and French have had a rivalry going on for almost a thousand years, after successive invasions and wars on either side. Luckily we’re all friends now though. Right?

 

12. Moi aussi / Me too

Here’s a great language hack for you. If you’re the kind of person who can’t decide what they want in a restaurant, just listen to what your friends are ordering and then use this one straight after: “me too!”

 

13. Ça suffit / That’s enough

Useful for if the waiter is pouring you too much wine (if that’s a thing!) This one is easy to remember too, as it sounds like the English “suffice”.

 

14. Je suis en colère parce que j’ai faim / I’m angry because I’m hungry

We’ve all been there. If the food’s taking too long and the service is turning out to be pretty slow, just inform your waiter of how serious the situation really is.

 

15. Est-ce que vous aimeriez une bouteille ou un verre ? / Would you like a bottle or a glass?

France is one of the world’s greatest wine countries. Did you know that France produces 7-8 billion bottles of wine every year? Santé! (Cheers)

 

16. Je suis végétarien / I’m vegetarian

You might be surprised by how important meat is in the French diet, although vegetarian options are usually at hand too. If you’re not a meat eater, remember to say “je suis végétarien”, not “je voudrais le steak tartare s’il vous plaît”.

 

17. Le café est ma boisson préférée / Coffee is my favourite drink

In France, coffee is much more than just a drink. Coffee is a way of life! Use this phrase to instantly win friends with your new language.

 

18. Excusez-moi / Excuse me

This is another phrase that’s extremely useful, and very easy to remember. Use it when asking people questions, asking them to move out the way, after stepping on their foot, after pouring wine over their white trousers (actually you might need “je suis désolé” for that one), or any time when you need an excuse!

 

19. Est-ce que vous avez des desserts? / Do you have any desserts?

France is paradise for dessert lovers. Tarte tatin, mousse au chocolat, crème brûlée, glaces… you name it!

 

20. C’est délicieux / It’s delicious

French food is delicious. If you’re a food lover, this is a phrase you’re going to need all the time!

 

Want to brush up your French before your next trip to France?

 

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