There's no better way to level up your trip to France than by practicing your French! Learning a few key phrases will help you feel more confident ordering in a French pâtisserie (pastry shop) and chatting with locals at a marché (market). 

Here are the most important phrases you'll need in France. On y va !

Illustration of the Eiffel Tower with trees on either side of its base.

French 101

You don't have to be fluent to have fun with French. 
You're on vacation, so don't stress! Enjoy using the French you know and see what else you learn along the way. (And you might be pleasantly surprised that even beginners can have real conversations!)

It's the effort that counts. 
Using some French shows locals that you're interested in their culture and community.

Study smart, not hard. 
Focus on the most useful French words and phrases, and worry less about getting every grammar detail right. A few key words go a long way!


Hello / Good morning / Good afternoon Bonjour
Good evening Bonsoir
Excuse me Excusez-moi
Please S'il vous plaît
Thank you Merci
You're welcome De rien
Goodbye Au revoir
Yes Oui
No Non
My name is... Je m'appelle…

Asking for help

Do you speak English? Parlez-vous anglais ?
The bathroom, please? Les toilettes, s'il vous plaît ?
I'm sorry, I don't understand. Je suis désolé(e), je ne comprends pas.
Can you help me? Pouvez-vous m'aider ?
I'm lost Je suis perdu(e).

Getting around town

I want to go to ___. Je veux aller à ___.
How much does it cost? Ça coûte combien ?
Where is ___? Où est ___ ?
the museum le musée
the beach la plage
the train station la gare
the city center (downtown) le centre-ville

Ordering food

A table for 1 / 2 / 3 / 4. Une table pour une / deux / trois / quatre personne(s).
I would like ___. Je voudrais ___.
(More) water / coffee / beer / wine. (Encore) de l'eau / du café / de la bière / du vin.
The check, please. L'addition, s'il vous plaît.
pay by cash / credit card en espèces / carte de crédit
with / without avec / sans
breakfast le petit déjeuner
lunch le déjeuner
dinner le dîner
appetizer l'entrée / l'amuse-bouche / le hors-d'œuvre
main course le plat principal
dessert le dessert
Illustration of the Arc de Triomphe

Local language

Bonjour !
It's considered polite to greet people with "good morning" or "good afternoon" when you enter stores, cafés, or souvenir shops.

Le truc. 
A favorite of the French, you might overhear locals use this casual word for "thing."

The beginning of your journey with French 🇫🇷

These basics will get you far in France, but there's a lot more French where that came from. To make real connections during your trip, let Duolingo be your guide! Our bite-sized lessons make it easy to fit study time into your busy schedule, and our entire French course is free—so you can save your euros for souvenirs.