This blog post was updated on October 18, 2018.
So, you’re headed to Paris. You’ve got your itinerary planned out (ahem, right?), and you’ve got your bags packed—but do you know how to speak French?
Probably not. But never fear! We’ll let you in on the phrases you’ll need most often. Keep these in your back pocket—and smile apologetically for your unfortunate accent—and the French will think you’re adorable and help you along your merry, Parisian way.
First, the basics. These are the phrases everyone tells you to learn, and really, you should. Ignore them and invite the infamous wrath of the French at your own risk. (No one throws shade like Parisians.)
Hello! – Bonjour!
Good-bye! – Au revoir!
Please – S’il vous plait
Thank you – Merci
You’re welcome – De rien
How are you – Comment allez-vous ?
Where is the bathroom? – Ou sont les toilettes?
Check please! – L’addition, s’il vous plait.
Now, for the phrases not everyone will tell you to learn. Staying in a hotel? Parisians are obnoxiously stingy with their toilet paper. There’s a good chance you’ll need a refill.
I need more toilet paper, please – J’ai besoin de papier hygiénique, s’il vous plait.
Do you want to eat all of the amazing French food ? Yeah you do. If you’re at a bakery—a.k.a. la boulangerie—don’t skimp on the croissants, éclairs, and baguettes. Here’s how to ask for all the awesomeness. Just insert your noms of choice. If you don’t know the word, pointing enthusiastically is acceptable too!
I would like [a chocolate éclair] – Je voudrais [un éclair au chocolat.]
And finally, for all the times you’ll feel bad for not knowing the language, not knowing where you’re going, or general cluelessness/clumsiness, here’s what you say.
I’m sorry, I’m American! – Je suis désolé, je suis américain!
There you have it! Your French survival guide. You’ll totally be fine. And if you’re not, just eat more éclairs. All will be right with the world.
What French phrases are you dying to learn?