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Vital French for visitors

Simple French words and phrases, with audio

About-France.com  -  the connoisseur's guide to France

Survive in France...   If you don't speak any French, be reassured; here's the good news! Lots of people in France speak English, specially young people, and people working in tourism in Paris and the main holiday regions.  Now for the bad news there are also lots who do not - even working in the travel and hospitality business.  
Here therefore are twenty-five of the most important French words to learn, and twenty-five simple French phrases that  could well come in useful during a trip to France.

25 vital French words and simple expressions to learn before travelling

(The pronunciation of each word is indicated in brackets).

The sound represented  below as "eu" is the "er" sound in the British pronunciation of the word her, or the "ur" of fur.  So French Je more or less rhymes with English her, or with the word the before a consonant (as in What's the matter?).
 To listen to each word or phrase, just click the button 

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  1. Please - S’il vous plaît (see-voo-play)
  2. I am - Je suis  (zheu swee) – 
  3. I’m looking for -  Je cherche (zheu share-sh)
  4. I want - Je veux (zheu veu) – 
  5. A hotel - Un hôtel (ern otell) – 
  6. A room  - Une chambre (une shombre)  -
  7. To eat -  Manger (mon-zhay)  - 
  8. To drink -  Boire (bwar) – 
  9. To pay -  Payer (pay-yeh) – 
  10. To buy  -  Acheter (ash-tay) – 
  11. Breakfast -  Petit-déjeuner (peuti – dayzheurnay) -  
  12. Dinner -  Diner (dee-nay)
  13. A half pint of draught beer  - Un demi (ern deu-mee) – 
  14. A glass -  Un verre (ern vair)  - 
  15. Some water -  De l’eau (deu-lo) 
  16. A tea (with milk) -   Un thé (au lait)  (ern tay olay)  -
  17. The washroom, toilet. -  La toilette (lar twa-lette)  -
  18. The price -   Le prix (pree)
  19. Credit card - Carte de crédit (kart deu cray-dee)  -  
  20. A bank -  Une banque (une bonk) – 
  21. Shops -  Des magasins (day magga-zan)
  22. A supermarket -  Un supermarché (ern supair-mar-shay)  
  23. The train station  - La gare (lar gar) – 
  24. The airport -  L’aeroport (l’aero-por)
  25. A car. -  Une voiture (une vwa-tiure)

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And 25 most useful French phrases
(Sometimes incorporating essential words from the list above)

  1. Hello -  Bonjour. (bon-zhour) 
  2. Thankyou -  Merci.  (mair-see) 
  3. Goodbye -  Au revoir. (oh-reu-vwar) 
  4. I don’t understand  -   Je ne comprends pas. (zheu neu kompron par)   
  5. I don’t speak French -  Je ne parle pas français. (zheu neu parl par fron-say ) 
  6. Could you speak more slowly, please. - 
    Pouvez vous parler plus lentement, s’il vous plait  (poo-vay-voo par-lay ploo lontermon)  
  7. Could you repeat that please.  - 
    Pouvez-vous répéter, s’il vous plaît (poo-vay-voo ray-pay-tay, see-voo-play)  
  8. Please, I’m looking for (whatever you are looking for).-
    S’il vous plaît, je cherche……  (see-voo-play, zheu share-sh ......)  
  9. Do you have…. ? -   Avez-vous…. (avay -voo)   
  10. Do you have a room for two ?  - Avez-vous une chambre pour deux personnes? (avay -voo une shombre poor deuh pair-sonn)  
  11. When does it shut ? - A quelle heure est-ce que cela ferme ? (a kel eure esk slar fairme) 
  12. How much is it ? - Combien ça coûte ?  (kom-bjanne sar coot)   
  13. Where is the toilet / washroom, please ? -  Où sont les toilettes, s’il vous plaît ?   ( oo son lay twar-let, see-voo-play)
  14.  Where are there some restaurants, please ? - Où est-ce qu’on peut trouver des restaurants, s’il vous plaît? ( oo esk on peu troo-vay day resto-ron, see-voo-play)
  15. One black coffee, and one white coffee please. -  Un café et un café au lait, s’il vous plaît. (ern caffay ay ern caffay olay,  see-voo-play)     
  16. Could I have the bill please. - L’addition, s’il vous plaît. (lad-eesi-on see-voo-play)   
  17. To the airport, please. - A l’aeroport, s’il vous plaît.  (ar l'aeropor see-voo-play
  18. A table for two / for four.  - Une table pour deux / quatre personnes.   (oon tarbleu poor deuh /cat-r pair-son)  
  19. I’m not feeling very well.  -  Je ne me sens pas bien. (zheu neu meu son par bjanne)  
  20. We’re lost. -  Nous sommes perdus.(noo som pair-dju) 
  21. We want to go to (wherever you want to go).  -Nous voulons aller à …….  (noo voolon allay are...
  22. I’m looking for an ATM / cash dispenser. -
    Je cherche un distributeur de billets. (zheu share-sh ern dee-stree-beaut-eur deu bee-ay) 
  23. Could you please call me a cab.-  Pouvez-vous m’appeler un taxi, s’il vous plaît (poovay voo maplay ern taxi see-voo-play)  
  24.  We’re in a great hurry / late. -  Nous sommes très pressés / en retard.  (noo som tray pressay / on retar)
  25. What’s the weather going to be like today ? - Quel temps va-t-il faire aujourd’hui? (kel tom vartil fair oh-zhour-dwee

Vital French in your pocket.... Rather than a complicated phrasebook, just print out our PDF vital French page or save this page to your mobile-phone before you go.
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