Five French Travel Phrases To Learn

Although Paris is a major hub of international business travel, the English speaking population is small. French is the native language in Paris and often times the only language spoken.

Travelers should never assume cab drivers, waiters, or people on the street are able to speak English. Because of this potential language barrier, travelers should prepare with a some simple French phrases. These five phrases will help anyone communicate clearly with all levels of Parisian society.

French Travel Phrase 1: I would like…
French: Je Voudrais
Sounds like: Juh voo-dray
Means: I would like…
In a sentence: “Je voudrais un croissant.” “I would like a croissant.”
Explanation: this is the most commonly used form of expression when ordering something in a restaurant or at a café.

French Travel Phrase 2: Thank you/You’re welcome
French: Merci / Du Rien
Sounds like: Mare-see / doo ree en
Means: Thank you / You are welcome
In a sentence: Person 1: “Merci, madame.” Person 2: “Du rien.” “Thank you, ma’am.” “You’re welcome.”
Explanation: one of the most commonly used French words. Thank people liberally, and always be sure to return a “merci” with “du rien.”

French Travel Phrase 3: I don’t speak French
French: Je ne parle pas Francais
Sounds like: Ju neigh parl pa luh fran-says
Means: I don’t speak French
In a sentence: Person 1: “Parles vous Francais?” Person 2: “Je ne parle pas Francais” “Do you speak French?” “I don’t speak French.”
Explanation: use this phrase liberally if you don’t speak French. After hearing it, most people will either try to speak to you in English, or will realize you cannot help them.

French Travel Phrase 4: Please / Excuse me
French: Sil vous plait / pardon
Sounds like: see voo play / pair-don
Means: Please / Excuse me
In a sentence: “Sil vous plait, je voudrais un fraise.” “Please, I would like a strawberry.” “Pardon, ou est le gare?” “Excuse me, where is the station?”
Explanation: Use these two words liberally as well. Sil vous plait has any number of uses, and will never be considered out of place. Pardon should be used whenever you would be tempted to say, “excuse me”, i.e. if you happen to bump into someone on the street.

French Travel Phrase 5: Where is
French: Ou est…
Sounds like: Ooh ay…
Means: where is
In a sentence: “Ou est le gare?” “Where is the station?”
Explanation: this form of question will get you directions to anywhere, so long as the person you ask knows how to get there and you have the name or address of your destination. Be sure to follow it up with a “Je ne parle pas Francais” if they begin explaining in French, and carry around a map they can use to show you if necessary.

These five French phrases are very helpful for English speaking business travelers in Paris. Shopping, eating, and finding something is much less of a struggle if you know how to ask these questions.

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