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Useful French Phrases

There’s no better way to experience Paris than living like a true Parisian. However, one key part of living like a local is to speak like a local! Obviously, learning the French language won’t happen overnight, but there are some essential words and common phrases that you can learn before you travel that will help you during your trip. Here’s a list of some of the most useful French phrases to help you navigate your way through the winding streets of Le Marais, order an aperitif on a rooftop bar overlooking the Eiffel Tower or pick up a baguette at your local boulangerie…

Photo by Jamie Hagan

The basics

Hello / Good evening Bonjour / Bonsoir
How are you?  Ça va?
Please  S’il vous plaît
Thank you – Merci
You’re welcome  De rien
Sorry Pardon
Excuse me Excusez-moi
Yes / Non – Oui / Non
I don’t understand – Je ne comprends pas
Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous anglais ? 

 

Photo by Léonard Cotte

Phrases for getting around

Excuse me, where is ___? Excusez-moi, où est ___ ?

This is really crucial phrase that can help you find what you’re looking for in the city. You can ask for anything, from hotels and museums to restaurants and metro stops.

Photo by Alex Holyoake

Where is the closest metro station? Où se trouve la station de métro la plus proche ?

The metro system is a fantastic way to get around Paris, especially if you really want a taste of authentic Parisian living. It’s easy to use, inexpensive and very well-connected throughout the city. This phrase will help you find the nearest station, where you can then go underground and find maps of the entire metro network to find out where you need to be. Some metro stations, like Louvre-Rivoli in the 1st arrondissement and Arts et Metiers in the 3rd arrondissement, even feature interesting designs and are well worth checking out!

Photo by Lucy Dodsworth

 One ticket, please. Un billet, s’il vous plait.

When you get to a metro station, head to the ticket booth, le guichet, to get a ticket for your journey. This phrase also works for buses too, which are a great alternative if you want to avoid rush hour on a busy metro line, but also if you want to see Paris from a different perspective as you travel through the streets of some of the most famous quartiers.

Phrases for ordering food and drinks

A table for two people, please. Une table pour deux personnes, s’il vous plait.

For most bistros and cafes, you can usually sit down at any free table and the waiter will then come over to you and ask what you’d like. However, some restaurants will locate a table for you as you enter, so this is the phrase you will need.

Photo by Bram Naus

The menu, please. La carte, s’il vous plait.

A lot of menus in the areas of Paris that attract a lot of tourists will often include English translations of the food, but don’t worry if not! Just say “Avez-vous une carte en anglais, s’il vous plait ?” (Do you have a menu in English, please?) and most restaurants will be able to provide you with one.

I would like ___, please. Je voudrais ___, s’il vous plait.

Now you can order away! Classic French dishes include beef bourgignon, duck confit and of course, escargots – snails!

Photo by Eric McNew

I can’t eat ___. Je ne peux pas manger ___.

If you have any food intolerances, allergies or preferences, it’s always a good idea to learn how to say it in the language of the country you’re visiting. Here are a few examples in French:

peanuts – les cacahuètes
nuts – les noix
gluten – le gluten
shellfish – les fruits de mer
eggs – les œufs
fish – le poisson
dairy products – les produits laitiers
soy – le soja
meat – la viande

Photo by Rose Elena

The bill, please. L’addition, s’il vous plait.

Following an espresso after dessert, you can grab the bill then enjoy the rest of your evening in Paris by going for a stroll by the Seine.

One last thing…

Finally, don’t forget that Paris is the city of love! To tell your loved one that you love them as you sit by the Seine on Ile de la Cité, simply say Je t’aime

Photo by Gautier Salles


5 Must-See Sights in Montmartre

When you think of Montmartre, what comes to mind? Is it the grandeur and beauty of the historic Basilica of Sacre-Coeur? Or rather the seductive Moulin Rouge? These places are without a doubt unmissable but today, we want to expose you to some unmissable areas often overlooked.

 

  1. Clos Montmartre

 

When walking the streets of Paris, it’s easy to get lost. We’ve all had that: “wait… what street am I on? Am I going in the right direction?!” moment and especially in the small, hidden streets of the 18ème arrondisment. I like to think of this as part of the hidden charm of this district; so, what is le Clos Montmartre? Well, if you’re really good at getting lost around back streets then you’ve probably already found this place. It is a small, hidden vineyard in the heart of Paris, home to some of the most beautiful flowers in the city and the last standing vine in central Paris. The vine was originally placed where it is now in 1933 by the council trying to prevent property developers from developing on that site. Would you believe that before the stunning vine and flower beds, this 0.15 hectare of land was a children’s playground and dumping ground?

 

Unfortunately, it is not open to the public but you can still admire the vines from above and below and once a year they open the gates to the public (by guided tour only) and the money raised from the ticket sales is put towards funding projects in the 18ème arrondisement.

 

 

2. Moulin de la Galette

 

 

We can all agree that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the Moulin Rouge… But what about the Moulin de la Galette? These two windmills date back to when grain was being produced on nearby farms in Montmartre. One of the windmills is now a popular restaurant (worth the visit if you have the time), the other can only be spied through the trees. If you happen to find it, snap a photo and tag us on Instagram: @holidayseuroperentals

 

3. Renoir Gardens

 

 

If you’ve bought your ticket to the Musée de Montmartre (which we absolutely recommend) then take some time to find the little hidden Renoir Gardens. Its the perfect escape from the bustling 18ème arrondissement where you can enjoy a peaceful oasis. We recommend taking a book and spending a quiet sunny afternoon drinking in the beautiful surroundings.

 

4. Place du Tertre

 

You’re bound to stumble across this beautiful square if you are walking up to Montmartre. It’s the hangout spot for the modern-day Picassos, Monets and Cézannes. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir from Paris, here’s where you’ll find it. There are street artists selling one of a kind, hand painted pictures of Paris in her many forms. There are also many artists who will create a vision before your eyes of your choice and even create charcoal portraits! These aren’t the cheapest of souvenirs but they arepriceless.

5. The Bateau-Lavoir

 

The Bateau-Lavoir used to be home to a piano factory but as it was poorly heated, artists would come together to warm one another up. This place has been deemed a “melting pot of Modern Art” as it quickly became home to many artists from around the world using the space to cultivate their creativity. In the heart of Emile Goudeu, the Bateau-Lavoir was home to some of the most famous artists of the 20thcentury such as: Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Sadly, the original interior burned down in a fire in 1970, however, it was quickly rebuilt, so if you get the chance to head over, check out a comparison of the original interior and the new-build.