French for Travel

A couple of weeks ago I started brushing up on my French in preparation for the big October trip to Paris. For those of you who do not speak much French, I want to share a few words and phrases – with my attempt at pronunciation. Learning some of these will help you feel a little bit more confident, whether asking for assistance in a store or ordering a glass of wine. Let me know if there’s something specific you’d like to know that isn’t included below.

First, the basics.  You’ll likely not use any of these on their own. But still, important to recognize when looking at the phrases below.  Please keep in mind, I don’t speak French well, nor fluently. I THINK all of this is correct. If you find anything not right please let me know.

He, It, She – Personal Pronouns

  • He and It:  Il – (EEL)
  • She:  Elle – (like the letter “L”)

THE – Definite Articles
Here’s the fun part – in French, nouns are either masculine or feminine. …I don’t know why. Makes no sense. They just are. Therefore, articles must agree with the noun in the sentence, either masculine or feminine. OR, if the noun is plural, you use a specific “plural: definite article .

In English, we use The.  For EVERYTHING. 

  • Masculine, Single:  Le – (like the “loo” in LOOk)
  • Feminine, Single:  La – (doe, ray, mee, fa, sew, LA, tee, doe)
  • Plural:  Les – (LAY an egg)

A, AN – Indefinite Articles:
These compliment single nouns, depending on whether that noun is masculine or feminine.

In English we use A and AN, depending on the first letter of the noun.

  • Masculine:  Un – (like the “u” in Under while holding your nose for a nasal twang. The nasal twang is in place of sounding the N)
  • Feminine:  Une – (EWN or OON like P-U, without the the “P” sound and adding the “N” sound.)

SOME – Partitive Articles:
Again, it must match the noun, whether it’s masculine or feminine. If it’s plural, it doesn’t matter about whether the noun is masculine or feminine – just use the plural article.

In English we use SOME for everything.

  • Masculine, Single:  Du – (DEW – like P-U without the “P”, but a “D” instead.)
  • Feminine, Single:  De la – Doo (like the OO in LOOK) (doe, ray, mee, fa, sew) LA(tee, doe)
  • Plural:  Des – (DAY)

Big, Small, Tall, Red, Blue, Hairy…. – Pronouns
And don’t forget the pronouns… You’ll need to know the gender of the subject AND whether it’s singular or plural to know which pronoun to use. For example,

  • “A big hotel” is “Un grand hôtel”. (Masculine)
  • “A big chair”, it’s “Une grande chaise”. (Feminine)
  • “The blue book.” is “Le livre bleu.(Masculine)
  • “The blue flower.” is “La fleur bleue.” (Feminine)
  • “The blue flowers.: is “Les fleurs bleues.” (Plural)

Below are some French words and phrases (including articles) that are helpful to know when visiting France. A general rule (but not gospel – those crazy French), when a word ends in a consonant, that consonant is silent. If the word ends in an e, the consonant before the e is sounded.


  1. Hello — Bonjour. (bon-zhour)  –  Listen 
  2. Thank you — Merci.  (mair-see–  Listen 
  3. Goodbye — Au revoir. (oh-reu-vwar) –  Liste
  4. Please — S’il vous plaît (see-voo-play) –   Listen 
  5. I am… — Je suis  (zheu swee)     Listen 
  6. I’m looking for… — Je cherche (zheu share-sh) –   Listen 
  7. I want… — Je veux (zheu veu) –   Listen 
  8. A hotel  — Un hôtel (ern otell) –   Listen 
  9. A room — Une chambre (une shombre)  –   Listen 
  10. To eat — Manger (mon-zhay)  –    Listen 
  11. To drink — Boire (bwar) –   Listen 
  12. To pay — Payer (pay-yeh) –   Listen 
  13. To buy — Acheter (ash-tay) –    Listen 
  14. Breakfast –– Petit-déjeuner (peuti – dayzheurnay) –  Listen 
  15. Dinner — Diner (dee-nay) –   Listen 
  16. A glass — Un verre (ern vair)  –    Listen 
  17. Some water — De l’eau (deu-lo–   Listen 
  18. A tea –– Un thé (ern tay): A tea with milk — Un thé au lait (ern tay olay–  Listen 
  19. The washroom, the ladies room, the toilet — La toilette (lar twa-lette)  – Listen 
  20. Price — Prix (pree) –   Listen 
  21. Credit card — Carte de crédit (kart deu craydee)  – Listen 
  22. A bank — Une banque (une bonk) – Listen 
  23. The shops/stores — Des magasins (day magga-zan) –   Listen 
  24. The bill/tab — L’addition (la dissyon) –  Listen
  25. A supermarket — Un supermarché (ern supair-mar-shay) 
  26. The train station — La gare (lar gar) – Listen 
  27. The airport — L’aeroport (l’aero-por– Listen 
  28. A car — Une voiture (une vwa-tiure) – Listen 

French Phrases

  1. I don’t understand — Je ne comprends pas(zheu neu kompron paw) – Listen 
  2. I don’t speak French — Je ne parle pas français. (zheu neu parl par fron-say)   Listen 
  3. Could you speak more slowly, please? — Pouvez vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plait?
    (poo-vay-voo par-lay ploo lontermon) – Listen 
  4. Could you repeat that please? — Pouvez-vous répéter, s’il vous plait? (poo-vay-voo ray-pay-tay, see-voo-play) – Listen 
  5. Please, I’m looking for… — S’il vous plaît, je cherche……
    (see-voo-play, zheu share-sh ……) –  Listen 
  6. Do you have…? — Avez-vous…. (avay -voo)  –  Listen 
  7. Do you have a room for two? — Avez-vous une chambre pour deux personnes?
    (avay -voo une shombre poor deuh pair-sonn)  –  Listen 
  8. What time does it close? –– A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme ?
    (a kel eure esk slar fairme)  –  Listen 
  9. How much does it cost? — Combien ça coûte? (kom-bjanne sar coot) Listen 
  10. Where are the toilets/washrooms, please? — Ou sont les toilettes, s’il vous plaît?  ( oo son lay twar-let, see-voo-play – Listen 
  11. A black coffee and a coffee with milk, please. — Un café et un café au lait, s’il vous plaît. (ern caffay ay ern caffay olay, see-voo-play– Listen 
  12. This bill/tab, please. — L’addition, s’il vous plaît. 
    (lad-eesi-onsee-voo-play) – Listen 
  13. To the airport, please. — A l’aeroport, s’il vous plaît.  (ar l’aeropor see-voo-play) – Listen 
  14. A table for two people — Une table pour deux personnes.(oon tarbleu poor deuh pair-son); A table for four people — Une table pour quatre personnes. (oon tarbleu poor cat-r pair-son) – Listen 
  15. I’m not feeling well. — Je ne me sens pas bien.(zheu neu meu son par bjanne– Listen 
  16. We’re lost. — Nous sommes perdus.(noo som pair-dju– Listen 
  17. We want to go… — Nous voulons aller à… (noo voolon allay are) – Listen 
  18. I’m looking for an ATM/cash machine. — Je cherche un distributeur (automatique not included commonly). (zheu share-sh ern dee-stree-beaut-eur deu bee-ay) –  Listen 
  19. Could you call me a taxi, please? — Pouvez-vous m’appeler un taxi, s’il vous plaît;  
    (poovay voo maplay ern taxi see-voo-play– Listen 
  20. We’re in a big hurry. — Nous sommes très presses. (noo som tray pressayWe’re late. — Nous sommes en retard.  (noo som on retar– Listen 
  21. What will the weather be today? — Quel temps va-t-il faire aujourd’hui? (kel tom vartil fair oh-zhour-dwee – Listen 

So there you have it. French for Travel, 101. Here’s a PDF with the Words & Phrases in case you want to print something out.

If you want to dig into the language more on your own, here are the sites I used for this info as well as the sites I am using in an effort to improve my French. is David Issokson’s site. This is where I found the audio samples. He also video and podcast lessons on the site. If you want to go even further, he teaches French lessons via Skype, something I’m actually interested in. Will report back if I sign up.

1 thought on “French for Travel”

  • I love this. The only thing I’d add is “You’re Welcome”.

    We spent 90+ days in the Azores in 2015 — my favorite destination so far. We worked to learn simple phrases and found that opened many doors for us. Lynnelle is awesome to provide this and I encourage you to practice. It is so worth it. I find that I have the ability to pick up an accent for simple phrases, and in both The Azores and during our month in Guadeloupe, I’d say their version of “Good Morning” so well, people would start asking me for directions. “I’m sorry, I do not speak (enter language here) was also very important.

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