France has the sights, architecture, and culture that place high on the list of places for people to visit, but unfortunately the French language can be intimidating to learn. But don’t worry – French isn’t that hard, and the pronunciation is simple once you get used to it.
So after you’ve booked your flight, reserved your hotel room, and hired your rental car, it’s time to learn some French! This list of words and phrases consists of the twenty-seven most important things you should be able to say before your visit, from simple greetings to the all-important “Where’s the restroom?”
Simple Words and Numbers: You need to be able to say yes, no, and know a few numbers to get through the day and order your coffee and croissant.
Oi (pronounced wii)
Non (pronounced non)
Zéro (pronounced zehroh)
Un (pronounced uh)
Deux (pronounced duh)
Trois (pronounced twa)
Quatre (pronounced katr)
Cinq (pronounced sank)
Six (pronounced sees)
Sept (pronounced set)
Huit (pronounced weet)
Neuf (pronounced nurf)
Dix (pronounced dees)
Greetings: From hello to goodbye and most other polite greetings in between, these important words are used primarily to begin a conversation.
Bonjour (pronounced bohn-zhoor)
Bon soir (pronounced bohn swarh)
Salut (pronounced sah-loo)
Au revoir (pronounced ah revwahr)
S’il vous plait (pronounced seal voo play)
Merci (pronounced mare-see)
Excusez-moi (pronounced ex-kyou-say mwa)
Excuse me (to get someone’s attention)
Pardon (pronounced par-dohn)
Excuse me (as an apology)
Clarify the Situation: Do you need more help, or is your knowledge of the French language limited to this article? Try these phrases.
Parlez-vous anglais (pronounced par-lay voo ahn-glay)
Do you speak English?
Je ne comprends pas (pronounced zheh neh comp-rond pah)
I don’t understand.
Je ne parle pas francais (pronounced zheh neh parl pah franceh)
I don’t speak French.
C’est pas grave (pronounced say pah grahv)
Combien? (pronounced cohm-bee-en)
Ou sont les toilettes? (pronounced oo sohn lay twa-let)
Where are the restooms?
As is usually the case when traveling in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language well, don’t be afraid to practice. French isn’t the easiest language to learn, but French people generally appreciate the effort. If they correct your pronunciation, take it as a compliment – and be sure to give them a merci beaucoup!
Image credit: Flickr user HGruber
This post was written by Randall Pinkston of Neotravel.com, a travel deal aggregator based in Seattle, USA.