Tips for traveling to France

20 Insider Tips For Traveling to France [Infographic]

Tips for traveling to France

From the smell of freshly baked baguettes from the local bakery, to views of the romantic châteaux (castles) in the Loire Valley, to the diverse array of masterpieces displayed in the museums of Paris – France has so much to offer!

If you’re taking a trip to this beautiful country soon, keep reading to learn how to plan the perfect itinerary so you can enjoy France at its best. We’ll share about the weather, what to order when dining out, a few little known sites, and many more helpful tips for traveling to France!

20 Game-Changing Tips for Traveling to France

1. Keep French Fashion in Mind

Pack clothes that are versatile and chic, keeping in mind that the French are simple and effortless when it comes to their style. The saying “less is more” works well for the French.   

One of your goals should be to blend in with the locals – not stand out as a tourist. For the ladies, bring a scarf! In the summertime, light scarves can add a touch of class, or be used as an extra layer at nighttime without the bulk of a jacket.

2. Pack Comfy Shoes

Bring a pair, or two, of comfortable shoes to France. When traveling, you should always expect to be walking quite a bit, whether it’s through the cobbled streets of Le Vieux Carré (the Old Quarter) or through the vineyards in the South.

So leave the stiletto heels at home and opt for a pair of comfortable sandals or sturdy boots. Your feet will thank you later!

3.  Learn the Language

Locals love when visitors attempt to speak the native language. Even if your French is a little rusty and you can only muster up a polite “Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plait” (“I would like a coffee please”), the French will greatly appreciate the effort.

The best way to learn French before your trip is with the help of an experienced tutor. If you’re interested in building up your French vocabulary quickly, try out the online French classes at TakeLessons Live. Classes are completely free for your first month!

4. Check the Weather

Regions along the three coasts of France have a more temperate climate, unlike areas in central France, where you’ll experience more variation between seasons. Paris can also become fairly hot in the summer, so be prepared by packing light-colored clothing made of loose material.

The summer months in the south along the Mediterranean have very little rainfall, but the rest of the country experiences rainy months throughout the year. Paris has quite a bit of rainfall from April through August. Whatever the season, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast prior to your visit to France!

5. Travel in Spring or Fall

If you’re on a budget, the most cost-effective times to travel to France are during the spring and fall months. Keep in mind that if plane tickets are purchased at least three months in advance, you will be able to find some better deals!

6. Try a Bed & Breakfast

Relax in the many charming bed and breakfasts that France has to offer! While there are many options for lodging available to visitors, the more intimate bed and breakfasts in France are superb. Many of them offer home-cooked meals of the region, and the locals’ take on must-see sites.

7. Eat Like a Local

The French are known for, and proud, of their cuisine. Wherever you are in the country, be sure to try the local delicacies. If you’re traveling to Bordeaux, try the cannelé – a small pastry made of vanilla and rum.

Take in the view of the Mediterranean while dining on a traditional seafood dish of the region. You won’t regret trying the bouillabaisse (seafood stew) in Marseille, or the delicious quenelle in Lyon!

SEE ALSO: 50 Useful French Phrases for Travelers

8. Enjoy an Apéritif or Digestif

In France, sometimes the best drinks come just before or after a delicious meal. An apéritif (pre-meal drink) is usually enjoyed among friends before a plat de fromage (cheese plate) is served.

One common apéritif is the kir, which is a mix of white wine and blackcurrant. A common digestif (post-meal drink) is an espresso. Or you can try the “eau de vie,” literally translated “water of life,” which is a popular fruit brandy.

9. Check the Prix Fixe Menu

When you’re unsure about what to order, the prix fixe (fixed price) menu will be your best friend. Selected by the chef, it includes several dishes from the entrée (appetizer) to the plat principal (main dish) to the dessert.  

10. Shop at Outdoor Markets  

One way to save money without sacrificing the French experience is to shop at the outdoor markets. Most towns have an outdoor market or “marché en plein air.” Here, you can find vendors selling the region’s best at a more affordable price. Just be sure to check the local schedule, as some markets are only open on specific days of the week.

11. Enjoy Local Wines

As with the food in France, it’s usually best to go with the regional wine. While there are many options for wine, opting for the local wine is the best choice if you want to fully experience and appreciate the specialties of the area.

12. Travel by Train

Another way to save money on travel expenses while visiting France is to take the train. For the best deals, book three months in advance if you already have an itinerary set. If you’re under 25 and visiting France for a study abroad program or internship, signing up for a “Carte Jeune” offers reduced train fares!

13. Follow the Tour de France

Are you a fan of cycling? If not, would you like to follow a route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of France? Follow the cyclists at the Tour de France! This annual event takes place in July with a route through several notable cities and sites.

14. Celebrate La Fête Nationale

Also known as Bastille Day, the French independence day is well-celebrated in this country. If you’ll be in France on July 14th, you’ll get to witness fireworks shows and join in on the festivities. In Paris, go to a ball after the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower! The music and dancing begins around 9 PM.

SEE ALSO: What to Pack for France [Infographic]

15. Check out the Museums

The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in France, but there are so many other inspiring sites to add to your travel list! In Paris alone, there is the lesser-known Musée d’Orsay that boasts of numerous Impressionist paintings by Monet, and the Centre Pompidou that features contemporary and more interactive art. Both have slightly shorter admission lines!

16. Visit Luberon

Don’t forget to bring your camera to the picturesque lavender fields in France. The lavender that blooms in the South of France is a scent that is truly unforgettable. In Luberon these fragrant flowers bloom anytime between late June to early August, with the peak of the season being in early July.

17. Learn About History in Normandy

If you’re interested in historical events, head north for Normandy. Along the coast you’ll find the infamous Normandy and Omaha beaches where you can see remnants of WWII bunkers and memorials to those who fought during the war.

18. Stop by the Castles

France is home to many beautiful and unique châteaux (castles) in the center of the country. Relive the grandeur of the châteaux in the Loire Valley. Villandry is famous for its gardens that are exact replicas of the medieval gardens, while Chambord includes a grand central staircase in the main entrance.

This area of the country is less crowded than Paris or the beaches in the South, so it would make an excellent addition to your itinerary if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle.

19. Make Your Way to Île de Ré

At the mention of French beaches, most people think about the beaches along the Mediterranean Coast. Bask in the sunshine on Île de Ré instead. Located just off the western coast of France, Île de Ré is a unique and lesser-known beach that is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

20. Enjoy the Moment

While planning a trip to France often includes many preparations, it’s important to remember to savor the moment and not get too caught up in your itinerary. Enjoy the food, enjoy the wine, and enjoy the sites. But most importantly – enjoy the journey from one destination to another! Check out the infographic below for a visual reminder of each of these insider tips!

 

20 Insider Tips for Traveling to France

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Please include attribution to TakeLessons.com with this graphic.

 

Keep these tips for traveling to France in mind and you’ll be able to plan the perfect vacation! Enjoying all the food, drinks, and sites that France has to offer will make your visit one that you’ll always remember. Don’t forget to check out TakeLessons Live before you depart to brush up on your French language skills!

 

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL in Jacksonville, Florida. She has her Bachelors in French, French Literature, and Psychology from Florida State University and over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!
3 Things to Do When You’re Lost in Conversation

Feeling Lost in Conversation? 3 Helpful Tips for Language Learners

3 Things to Do When You’re Lost in Conversation

Whether you’re practicing conversational French, Spanish, or another language, chatting with a native speaker can be daunting. Here, language tutor Jinky B. shares some tips to keep in mind if you’re feeling lost…

 

Congratulations, you have been taking language classes and diligently studying all that you have learned on your own time. Now you’re ready to go out and have a conversation with a native speaker. The conversation is going well and everything is flowing when you suddenly realize that, well, you’re lost! You feel as though you’re hearing a completely foreign language.

First of all, breathe! Here are three things you can do when you are starting to feel like you’re at your first language lesson, unable to understand anything the other person is saying.

1. Listen for context clues.

Think about what you are finding difficult to understand. Is it a single word? Is it a whole phrase?

Some languages are filled with homophones, words that sound the same but have completely different meanings. Once you hone in on that, think about the context of the conversation. If you’re talking about weekend plans to go to a picnic, think through everything else that was said prior to the misunderstanding.

  • In French, la mer (the sea) and la mère (the mother) sound nearly exactly the same. Think about whether the speaker is talking about a trip to the beach or describing his family.

If it’s an entire phrase, it might be an idiom, one that is more common knowledge to the native speaker so it might not make sense to a language learner.

  • In French, the idiomatic expression Il pleut des cordes does not actually mean that it’s raining rope, but that it’s raining a lot.

Regardless of whether it’s a word or an entire phrase, try to determine the meaning based on the conversation.

See also: French learners, take a look at these additional tips for translating French to English.

2. Ask for repetition.

When in doubt about what you have heard, ask the other speaker to repeat the word or phrase in question. Sometimes hearing the specific word might bring an epiphany to the unknown word(s). Below are some phrases in our most popular languages to ask “Repeat, please.”

Spanish: Repita por favor.
French: Répétez, s’il vous plait.
Japanese: もう一度おねがいします。 (Mōichido onegaishimasu)
Korean: 제발 반복합니다. (jebal banboghabnida)
Italian: Ripeti prego.
German. Bitte wiederholen.

repeat_please

See also: Check out additional Spanish phrases to use here

3. Relax and be honest.

Take a deep breath. Politely let the other person know that you are having trouble understanding. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you’ll find it difficult to follow and participate in the conversation.

And if you aren’t honest with your language partner, they will continue the conversation. Below are ways that you can use to indicate to the other person “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”

Spanish: Lo siento, no entiendo.
French: Je suis désolé(e), je ne comprends pas.
Japanese: ごめんなさい。わかりません。(Gomen’nasai. Wakarimasen)
Korean: 죄송 해요. 이해가 안되는 데요. (joesong haeyo. ihaega andoeneun deyo)
Italian: Mi dispiace. Non capisco.
German. Es tut mir leid. Ich verstehe nicht.

im_sorry-_i_dont_understand

See also: 11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish [Infographic]


Language learning is the same across all languages. You build a foundation of vocabulary and grammar. You learn to put those words together to form sentences. You perfect your accent and comprehension skills. Then, you venture out and practice what you have learned.

Don’t stop at your first obstacle. Just relax and remember to listen for context clues, ask for repetition, and be honest with yourself. Most importantly, have fun! The best way to learn is to enjoy the process.

Want more conversational Spanish or conversational French practice? Sign up for one of our online group classes, or check out our other blog tutorials

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature, and Psychology from Florida State University and has more than five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

Photo by Brian Roberts

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French Greetings The Right and Wrong Way to Greet Someone in French

How to Greet Someone in France | 15 French Phrases to Know

French Greetings The Right and Wrong Way to Greet Someone in French

How much do you know about French greetings and salutations? Learn the do’s, don’ts, and phrases to know in this post by French tutor Jinky B...

 

Traveling to a foreign country can be quite exciting. For French learners, maybe you have your eye on Paris, Versailles, or Nice.

This is your opportunity to explore the culture and really use all the French that you’ve been learning and practicing!

But all the preparation may come to a startling halt if you’re not sure how to approach or greet someone in France. Here are a few tips to make the interaction less daunting and to make a great first impression.

French Greetings – The Do’s and Don’ts

The etiquette on greeting people in France depends on a few factors. While it’s expected and considered polite to greet everyone, whether it’s your colleague or a shopkeeper in the magasin (store), the way you greet each person depends on your relationship with them and the social setting.

  • Les bises (the kisses) are a typical greeting when meeting friends in France.

Depending on the region of France, la bise can include one, two, or even three little kisses on the cheek. If in doubt, let the other person initiate and move to one side of your face or the other. The kisses generally begin on the right side of the face.

  • A handshake is a greeting that is reserved for business or formal settings.

When entering a meeting for work, it’s normal for colleagues to offer a firm handshake. It’s also common for men to greet with a handshake rather than with une bise.

  • A hug, contrary to American greetings, is reserved for close family members or significant others only.

A hug is seen as an invasion of privacy to the French and can make someone feel awkward or uncomfortable.

French Phrases to Know – Greetings & Salutations

As with proper French greeting etiquette, the correct “hello” depends on your relationship with the other person and the social context.

1. Bonjour – Good morning & hello

Use bonjour to say “good morning” or “hello” to someone for the first time seeing them in a day. If you encounter the same person again later in the day, it’s appropriate to use a less formal hello.

2. Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you.

In a more formal setting, it’s polite to indicate that you are “delighted” to meet someone after they introduce themselves.

3. Bonsoir – Good evening & hello

This greeting is used in similar situations as bonjour, but reserved for the evening.

4. Salut – Hi

Considered to be a more casual greeting, using salut is appropriate when you see someone again later in the day.

5. Coucou – Hey

Close friends use this greeting often. You can skip the formal bonjour and use this, or even ciao, when seeing these close comrades.

6. Ça fait longtemps, dis donc! – Long time, no see!

An ideal greeting between good friends, young French people tend to use this phrase when meeting up.

7. Âllo – Hello

This greeting is used exclusively for conversations on the telephone.

8. Ça va? – How are you?

A very simple way to ask someone how they are doing is to say Ça va? It’s a condensed version of the question Comment ça va? (How are you doing?). Either is correct and can be used in formal or more casual settings.

9. Tu vas bien? – How are you doing?

Literally translated to “are you doing well,” this is a polite way to ask someone how they are when you’re expecting a positive reply.

10. Quoi de neuf? – What’s up?

This is very casual, so I recommend using with close friends.

11. Au revoir! – Goodbye!

Rather formal, this is a safe way to say goodbye, no matter the social setting.

12. Salut! – Bye!

This is more casual than au revoir, but is very appropriate when leaving someone.

13. Ciao! – See ya!

This is Italian in origin, but is popular among the younger French population.

14. À plus! – Later!

This is an easy way to indicate you’ll see someone later, but at an unspecific time.

15. À demain! – See you tomorrow!

The demain can be replaced with any day of the week if you know that you will see the other person soon.

Learn More French Phrases

Once you’ve mastered these French greetings and salutations, you can fill in the middle with great conversation! Here are some additional guides to check out:

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature, and Psychology from Florida State University and has more than five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

Photo by Garry Knight

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french conversation starters

22 MORE Useful French Phrases for Striking Up a Conversation

french conversation starters

Casual conversations with French speakers are a great way to practice your language skills! Here, tutor Beth L. shares 22 useful French phrases that will come in handy…

 

When learning a new language, it’s important to keep on talking — and listening — to practice your new skills. If you’ve already learned basic conversational phrases, now it’s time to move on to some more interesting conversation topics!

To help you practice and prompt your new French-speaking friends, below are some useful French phrases to use. In each case, the first version is formal, while the second is informal.

  1. Qu’est-ce que vous faites ce weekend? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais ce weekend?
    What are you doing this weekend?
  2. Que’est-ce que vous avez fait le week-end dernier? / Qu’est-ce que tu as fait le week-end dernier?
    What did you do last weekend?
  3. Comment est-ce que vous allez passer vos vacances? / Comment est-ce que tu vas passer tes vacances?
    How are you going to spend your vacation?
  4. Quelles autres langues est-ce que vous parlez? / Quelles autres langues est-ce que tu parles?
    What other languages do you speak?
  5. De quelle nationalité êtes-vous? / De quelle nationalité es-tu?
    What is your nationality?
  6. Qu’est-ce que vous faites dans votre temps libre? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais dans ton temps libre?
    What do you do in your spare time?
  7. Quelles sont vos sports préférés? / Quelles sont tes sports préférés?
    What are you favorite sports?
  8. Quelles sont vos chansons préférées? / Quelles sont tes chansons préférées?
    What are your favorite songs?
  9. Où est-ce que vous avez voyagé? / Où est-ce que tu as voyagé?
    Where have you traveled?
  10. Où est-ce que vous voudriez voyager? / Où est-ce que tu voudrais voyager?
    Where would you like to travel?
  11. Qu’est-ce que vous aimez manger? / Qu’est-ce que tu aimes manger?
    What do you like to eat?
  12. Où habitez-vous? / Où habites-tu?
    Where do you live?
  13. Qu’est-ce que vous faites comme travail? / Qu’est-ce que tu fais comme travail?
    What kind of work do you do?
  14. Quelle est votre matière préférée à l’école / au collège / au lycée / à l’université? / Quelle est ta matière préférée à l’école / au collège / au lycée / à l’université?
    What is your favorite subject matter in school / middle school / high school / university?
  15. Est-ce que vous avez un chien / un animal de compagnie? / Est-ce que tu as un chien / un animal de compagnie?
    Do you have a dog / pet?
  16. Est-ce que vous avez des frères ou des sœurs? Décrivez-le. / Est-ce que tu as des frères ou des sœurs? Décris-le.
    Do you have brothers or sisters? Describe them.
  17. Quel est ton film préféré? Pourquoi? / Quel est ton film préféré? Pourquoi?
    What is your favorite film? Why?
  18. Quel est votre livre préféré? / Quel est ton livre préféré?
    What is your favorite book?
  19. Qui es votre acteur / actrice préféré(e)? Pourquoi? / Qui es ton acteur / actrice préféré(e)? Pourquoi?
    Who is your favorite actor? Why?
  20. Qui est ton musicien préféré? / Qui est ton musicien préféré?
    Who is your favorite musician?
  21. Quel est votre endroit préféré? Décrivez-le. / Quel est ton endroit préféré? Décris-le.
    What is your favorite place? Describe it.
  22. Si vous pouviez vivre n’importe où, vous choisiriez quel endroit? / Si tu pouvais vivre n’importe où, tu choisirais quel endroit?
    If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

French Conversation Starters – Printable List

useful French phrases for conversations

Not sure where to bring up these French phrases? Check out some ideas for practicing conversational French here. And of course, these phrases will come in handy when you’re working with your French tutor, as well! The more speaking and listening practice you get, the faster you’ll learn.

Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

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French vocabulary for summer

52 Fun French Vocabulary Words and Phrases for Summer

French vocabulary for summer

Summer, summer, summertime! It’s the perfect time to relax and have some fun. Plus, it’s a season full of fun French words and phrases! Read on to learn some vocab from French tutor Beth L. 

 

Summer is coming, and France is a wonderful haven during this time of year (if you can avoid the heat)! The weather is warm, and delicious, fresh food abounds. Children are on vacation from school, and many families take advantage of that to travel. For many, the allure of nature and the great outdoors is difficult to resist.

What will you be doing with your summer? Beef up your vocabulary so you can tell your friends about it – in French!

One of the first things summer brings to mind is the excitement of vacation and travel.

1) l’été – summer
2) les vacances – vacation
Note: les vacances d’été – summer vacation
3) voyager – to travel
4) un voyage – a journey
5) juin – June
6) juillet – July
7) août – August

Now, let’s use these words in a sentence! For example…

  • Pendant mes vacances d’été, j’aime bien voyager! (During my summer vacation, I like to travel!)
  • Je peux choisir le mois de juin, le mois de juillet, ou le mois d’août pour mon voyage. (I can choose the month of June, the month of July, or the month of August for my trip.)

Many people enjoy the extra time and warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors.

8) le parc – the park
9) la pelouse – the lawn / grass
10) un pique-nique – a picnic
11) de la glace – some ice cream
12) la plage – the beach
13) le sable – sand
14) la piscine – the swimming pool
15) la mer – the sea
16) l’océan – the ocean
17) un maillot de bain – a swim suit
18) un lac – a lake
19) un bateau – a boat
20) nager – to swim
21) le Jardin – the garden
22) jardiner – to garden
23) une fleur / des fleurs – a / some flower(s)
24) une plante – a plant
25) un arbre – a tree
26) la nature – nature
27) les montagnes – the mountains
28) dehors – outside
29) marcher – to walk
30) courir – to run
31) jouer – to play

Editor’s Note: Get a refresher on conjugating -er verbs.

Example sentences:

  • Pendant l’été, nous jouons souvent dans le parc. (During the summer, we often play in the park.)
  • On prend un pique-nique pour déjeuner déhors. (We bring a picnic to eat lunch outside.)
  • J’aime surtout le jardin d’enfants avec ses fleurs et ses arbres. (I especially like the children’s garden with its flowers and trees.)
  • J’ai toujours aimé les bateaux. (I always liked boats.)
  • Quand je suis à la mer, je fais du bateau à voiles. (When I’m by the sea, I go sailboating.)
  • Quand je passe du temps à un lac, je regarde l’eau et les arbres, et j’écoute la silence. (When I spend time at a lake, I look at the water and the trees, and I listen to the silence.)

With the outdoors, of course, you’ll need to be able to talk about the beautiful weather, as well.

32) le soleil – the sun
33) la chaleur – the heat
34) le vent – the wind
35) les nuages – the clouds
36) le ciel – the sky
37) le sud – the south

Example sentences:

  • Quand on va à la plage, il faut se souvenir de son maillot de bain! (When you go to the beach, you must remember your bathing suit!)
  • Comme ça, on peut courir dans l’eau et dans le sable. On peut se bronzer sous le soleil, sentir le vent sur la peau, et apprécier la beauté de l’eau et du ciel. (That way, you/we/one can run in the water and in the sand. You/we/one can tan yourself/ourselves/oneself in the sun, feel the wind on your/our/one’s skin, and appreciate the beauty of the water and the sky.)

In addition to the words above, below are some common phrases and expressions related to summer.

1) Je vais dehors – I’m going outside
2) Il fait chaud – It’s hot
3) Il fait du soleil – It’s sunny
4) Il fait beau – It’s / the weather is beautiful
5) Il fait du vent – It’s windy
6) donner de l’ombre – give / provide shade
7) se limoger – to distance oneself
8) faire du camping – to go camping
9) faire du bateau à voile – to go sailboating
10) aller à la (f.) / aller au (m.) / aller aux (pl.) – to go to
11) prendre l’autoroute – take the highway
12) tomber en panne – break down
13) un coup de soleil – sunburn
14) prendre un coup de soleil – get a sunburn
15) se bronzer – to sunbathe / to get a tan

Check the same regular verb list linked above for help conjugating the regular -er verbs on this list. Several more expressions use the verbs faire and aller. (Learn more about irregular conjugations here.)

Example sentences:

  • Aujourd’hui, on a voulu se bronzer à la plage. (Today, we wanted to tan ourselves at the beach.)
  • Mais on est tombé en panne quand on a pris l’autoroute. (But our car broke down when we were getting onto the freeway.)
  • On a perdu toute une journée d’été! (We lost a whole day of summer!)

So, what are your favorite French words and phrases for summer? Here are ours:

Fun French Vocabulary Words for Summer

As school lets out and the summer begins, don’t be the first to lose your French – instead, continue practicing with your friends while you’re out having fun!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by Tommie Hansen

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funny french phrases

15 Funny French Phrases That’ll Make You Giggle

funny french phrases

The French language has some pretty hilarious words and phrases. In this week’s guest post, our friend Lily from French Possum lists 15 funny French phrases that natives commonly use in conversation…

The French say some of the funniest phrases without even realizing that word-for-word they don’t actually make sense.

While the French did indeed produce some of the greatest writers, natives don’t necessarily speak like the characters in novels.

If you’re traveling to France or learning French, don’t look surprised when you hear some funny French phrases.

Simply, smile and be attentive. After all,  you’ll know what to expect after reading the list of 15 funny French phrases below.

15 Funny French Phrases That’ll Make You Giggle

1. “Ah, la vache!”

Translation: Oh, my cow

Don’t panic, no cow is lost or wildly running away. The French phrase “Ah, la vache” actually expresses surprise and excitement. The best English equivalent would be “Oh my god!”

2. “Casser les oreilles”

Translation: Break your ears

What happens when your neighbors decide to have an electro party at 3 a.m. and think they should let everybody know by turning the volume up? They “break your ears,” literally…

3. “Devenir chêvre”

Translation: To become a goat

While Americans like to say “to be driven mad,” the French like to make it quite clear that anger is not their right state of mind. Rather, they use the French expression “to become a goat.” If you’re not fluent in French, trying to understand an angry French person may actually turn you into a goat as well!

4. “Arrête ton char!”

Translation: Stop your chariot

Initially, you might think that this French expression is used when trying to get someone to slow down. In actuality, however, this funny French phrase actually means to stop bluffing!

 

5. “Se prendre/prendre un râteau”

Translation: Gives you the rake

This is what happens when a man arrives late to dinner with his lovely date: she leaves the place with a note saying “adieu” (yes, French women are famous for their temper). If a French person “gives you the rake,” it means he or she refuses to go out with you.

6. “Faire l’andouille”

Translation: To make the sausage

This is the French we are talking about, so of course somewhere in this article there had to be a reference to traditional French food. What does “Faire l’andouille” actually mean? Simply to do something ridiculous!

7.  “Chercher la petite bête”

Translation: Look for the little beast

When the French feel that someone is looking really hard for a reason to complain about something, they say someone is “looking for the little beast.” The best English equivalent would be “splitting hairs.”

8. “Être sur son 31” 

Translation: Be on their 31

On big occasions, the French will “Être sur son 31,” meaning that they’ll be putting on beautiful and elegant clothes. If you watch the Cannes Festival Red Carpet events, for instance, this is typically what “to be on your 31” entails.

9. “Tomber dans les pommes” 

Translation: Fall in apples

When the French faint, they don’t fall on a bed of roses perfumed with Chanel N°5, but in… apples! To “fall in the apples” means to lose consciousness.

10.“Il y a quelque chose qui cloche”

Translation: There is something ringing

Imagine D’Artagnan sensing that “there is something wrong.” He would say, “Il y a quelque chose qui cloche” or “there is something ringing.” He would then say to his friends: “Un pour tous, tous pour un!” (All for one, one for all!)

11. “Faire un froid de canard”

Translation: Does a cold of duck

When it gets very cold, the French pretend they’re chasing ducks to keep warm. Okay, I admit, that’s not true at all…but you’ll definitely hear the French say the weather “faire un froid de canard,” meaning “is extremely cold.”

12. “Avoir un chat dans la gorge”

Translation: To have a cat in the throat

Having some trouble speaking? While the English say “to have a frog in one’s throat,” the French prefer to say they “have a cat in the throat.”

13. “En avoir ras le bol”

Translation: To have a bowl full of it

If you “En avoir ras le bol,” it means that you’re “sick of it” and well, the bowl is full and your anger may overflow.

14. “Donner un coup de main”

Translation: To give a knock of hand

If a French person asks you to “donner un coup de main,” don’t punch him or her please. They are actually asking you to “give a helping hand.” So, smile and say “oui, avec plaisir” (yes, with pleasure).

15. “Être au taquet”

Translation: To be at a piece of wood

The word “taquet” is used to refer to a piece of wood put between a door and a wall to block it. This funny French saying means to work hard with the expectation that something good will happen. The best English equivalent would be “to give your best.”

Your Turn!

Try using these funny French phrases in conversation. The more you practice using them, the more natural they will start to become.

Do you know any funny French phrases? Share with us in the comment section below.

Photo by Amber Litzinger

Guest Post Author: Lily
Lily is the creator of French Possum, a blog and YouTube channel that’s dedicated to promoting the French culture and language to people around the world. Learn more about Lily and French Possum here. 

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Bon Voyage: 50 Useful French Phrases for Travelers

useful french phrases

Planning a trip to France? Below, French teacher Jinky B. shares 50 useful French phrases every traveler should learn before boarding the plane…

Traveling to a France is a great adventure, as you get to explore the local culture and taste all of the flavorful foods. Getting around France, however, isn’t always so glamorous.

As you prepare for your vacation to France, it’s important that you learn a little French. After all, you’re going to be put in certain situations where people might not speak English.

Lucky for you,  I’ve listed 50 useful French phrases for travelers below. These popular French phrases will help you navigate throughout France with ease.

Useful French Phrases for Conversation

useful french phrases

1. Bonjour! (Good morning, hello)

2. Bienvenue. (Welcome.)

3. Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle (Mrs. /Mr. /Miss)

4. Pardon, excusez-moi. (Pardon, excuse me.)

5. Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English ?)

6. Je ne parle pas français. (I do not speak French.)

7. À tout à l’heure! (See you later !)

8. Merci/Merci beaucoup. (Thank you/Thank you very much.)

9. Au revoir! (Goodbye !)

10. De rien. (You’re welcome.)

Useful French Phrases for Information

useful french phrases

11. Pourriez-vous m’aider? (Can you help me?)

12. Pourriez-vous prendre ma photo/notre photo? (Are you able to take my photo/our photo?)

13. Je ne comprends pas. (I do not understand.)

14. Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît. (Speak slowly, please.)

15. Répétez, s’il vous plait. (Repeat, please.)

16. Où sont des toilettes? (Where are the toilets?)

17. Où est un bon restaurant/un bon café? (Where is a good restaurant/a good café).

18. Où est la plage/le centre-ville? (Where is the beach/city center.)

19. Je cherche le métro/le gare/l’aéroport. (I am searching for the metro/train station/airport.)

20. Je cherche l’hôtel/l’hôpital/la banque. (I am searching for the hotel/hospital/bank.)

Useful French Phrases for Directions

useful french phrases

21. Où sommes-nous? (Where are we?)

22. C’est à gauche. (It’s to the left.)

23. C’est à droite. (It’s to the right.)

24. C’est tout droit. (It’s straight ahead.)

25. Est-ce que c’est loin/proche? (Is it far/close?)

Useful French Phrases for Transportation

useful french phrases

26. Où est le guichet? (Where is the ticket window ?)

27. Je voudrais regarder l’horaire. (I would like to look at the schedule.)

28. Je voudrais réserver un billet. (I would like to reserve a ticket.)

29. Je voudrais acheter un billet aller simple/aller-retour pour Paris. (I would like to purchase a one-way ticket/a round-trip ticket.)

30. À quelle heure faut-il arriver? (What time should it arrive ?)

Useful French Phrases for Accommodations

useful french phrases

31. Quelles chambres avez-vous de disponible? (What rooms do you have available ?)

32. Est-ce qu’il y a de climatisation? (Is there air conditioning ?)

33. Je voudrais une chambre pour deux. (I would like a double room.)

34. Je voudrais annuler ma réservation. (I would like to cancel my reservation.)

35. À quelle heure est-ce qu’il faut régler la note? (At what time should we check out?)

Useful French Phrases for Shopping

useful french phrases

36. Où sont les magasins? (Where are the shops?)

37. Où est le centre-commercial? (Where is the mall?)

38. Est-ce que je peux payer avec une carte de crédit? (Can I pay with a credit card?)

39. À quelle heure est-ce que s’est ouvert? (At what time is it open?)

40. À quelle heure est-ce que s’est fermé? (At what time is it closed?)

41. Je cherche un sac/une carte postale/un livre. (I am searching for a bag/a postcard/a book.)

42. Combien ça coûte? (How much does it cost?)

43. C’est trop cher! (It’s too expensive!)

44. C’est bon marché! (It’s a great deal!)

45. C’est bon/mal/terrible. (It’s good/bad/terrible.)

SEE ALSO: A Baller’s Guide to Paris via Luxury Lifestyle blog

Useful French Phrases for Dining

useful French phrases

46. La carte/le menu, s’il vous plaît. (The menu/fixed-price menu, please.)

47. Je voudrais un café. (I would like a coffee.)

48. Je voudrais un verre. (I would like a glass.) *usually a glass of beer

49. Je voudrais de l’eau. (I would like some water.)

50. L’addition, s’il vous plaît. (The bill, please.)

Safe Travels!

Familiarize yourself with these popular French phrases before your big trip to France. You’ll be happy you did when you have a question and find yourself surrounded by only French speakers.

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French lessons in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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20 Fun Activities and Games for French Club

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Are you a teacher or student involved in your school’s French club? As you know, finding fun activities and games centered on learning French can be difficult.

That’s why we’ve rounded up 20 fun French club ideas to help inspire you. These games and activities will introduce members to both French language and culture.

Note: These ideas and activities can be applied to any language club, such as Spanish, Italian, or German. 

20 French Club Activities and Ideas

1. Make a French Music Playlist

Using Spotify or Pandora, create your very own French club playlist. Have each student add 2-3 of their favorite French songs to the list. Listening to French music will familiarize students with both French culture and language.

2. Put on a French Bake Sale

Set up a bake sale during a school event in which students make and sell traditional French desserts, such as crème brûlée, soufflé au chocolat, and crêpe suzette. The proceeds will go toward funding other French club activities.

3. Host a French Movie Night

Check when your local theater is playing a French movie and attend as a group. If there aren’t any French movies on the schedule, look some up on Netflix. Check out this post for some age-appropriate French movie ideas: 12 Classic French Movies (and Movie Series) All Students Need to See

4. Visit a French Museum

Check your local museum’s schedule to see when it is featuring a French-inspired exhibition and attend as a group. The admission for students is typically discounted or free.

5. Set Up a Scavenger Hunt

Set up a fun scavenger hunt around the school or town. At each destination, students will have to read a clue (in French) to move onto the next destination. At the end, reward your students with a yummy treat.

6. French Arts and Crafts

Have students make French-themed arts and crafts to give to their loved ones around the holidays. For example, they can make Paris-themed wrapping paper or ornaments.

7. Start a French Book Club

At the start of every month, choose a French book that students will read and discuss. The book doesn’t necessarily have to be written in French. For example, you can choose a book that’s about French culture or history.

8. Celebrate French Holidays

Celebrate French holidays, such as Bastille Day and Easter, throughout the year. Celebrate by making fun crafts or taking part in holiday traditions.

9. Invite a Guest Speaker

Invite a guest speaker to chat with the group about French culture, travel, or language. For example, invite a French translator, author, or artist to talk to the group about what’s it’s like to be in their profession.

10. Create a Monthly Newsletter

Write up a monthly newsletter to be included in your school’s newspaper. In the newsletter, you can include updates on events you’re hosting, a “French Word of the Month,” or a series of inspirational French quotes.

11. Teach Others French

Volunteer at your local elderly home or elementary school. Encourage students to read to others in French or put on a fun French skit. Students will be practicing their French while giving back to the community.

12. Host a Taste of France Dinner

As a group, research traditional French recipes and create an authentic dinner menu. Every student is responsible for cooking a different part of the meal and presenting it (in French) to the group.

13. Monthly Presentations

Every month, choose a student who will give a presentation on a region or city in France that he or she would like to someday visit. The presentation will include cultural and historical facts about the region.

14. Participate in National French Week

Organized by the American Association of Teachers of French, National French Week celebrates all things French. Check out the American Association of Teachers of French website for some ways you can celebrate.

15. Attend a French Play

Check your local playhouse to see if there’s a French play on the schedule. Les Misérables, for example, is a great historical French play students will love.

16. French Game Night

Throw a French game night where you play traditional French games, such as Belote and Jeu de Tarot. You can also play games like bingo and scrabble. Just make sure that you’re using French words and numbers.

17. French Karaoke

Have some fun and sing along to your favorite French songs. Not only will you have a blast, but you’ll also be learning new French vocabulary words and phrases.

18. Subscribe to French Magazine or Newspaper

As a group, choose a few online French magazines or newspaper to subscribe to. Once a month over lunch, the group can discuss a few things they found interesting.

19. French Cooking Lesson

Check if your local French restaurant offers cooking lessons or demonstrations on how certain dishes are prepared. This is a great opportunity for students to dive into the French culinary world.

20. Meet Up with Other Groups

Are there other language clubs at your school? Get together once in awhile to swap ideas for activities that you can do together.

French club is a great way for students to meet new people and practice their French language skills. Spice up your meetings with some of these fun and educational French activities.

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5 Helpful French Pronunciation Hacks for Beginners

french pronunciation

Are you having trouble nailing your French accent? Below, French teacher Jinky B. explains how to sound like a  français or française in just five easy steps…

The French have an undeniably distinct accent that can be difficult for non-native speakers to perfect.

Nevertheless, it’s not entirely impossible for non-natives to learn how to speak French.

All it takes is some direction from your French teacher and a whole lot of practice.

Below are five helpful French pronunciation hacks or shortcuts to help you perfect your French accent.

5 French Pronunciation Hacks

1. The Silent Letters

One of the first French pronunciation rules is that you don’t actually say all the letters that are in a word.

The general rule of thumb is that you don’t say the consonants at the end of a word unless there is an ‘e’ at the end of the word. Check out the examples below:

Example one: français (Frenchman)

DO NOT say the ‘s’ sound, rather it sounds like ‘frong-say’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

Example two: française (Frenchwoman)

DO say the ‘s’, but making it more like a ‘z’ sound, to sound like ‘frong-says’.

*See #4 for pronunciation of the ‘-an’ in the first syllable.

There are some notable exceptions. Use this acronym to recognize when it’s possible to pronounce the consonant at the end of a word: CaReFuL. See the examples below.

Example one: Un truc (a thing)

DO say the ‘c’ in truc to sound like ‘trook’.

*The ‘u’ sounds like the English word ‘too’, not the English word ‘crook’.

Example two: Hiver (winter)

DO say the ‘r’ in hiver to sound like ‘e-vair’.

*The ‘h’ is silent at the beginning of the word.

2. The Liaison ‘Z’

One surefire way to sound more français or française is by linking the letter -s and the vowel in the word that follows.

For example, ils sont (they are) and ils ont (they have) look very similar in writing. However, when spoken, there is a very notable difference.

In the first, Ils sont, do not say the ‘s’ sound in ils, but DO say the ‘s’ in sont to sound like ‘eel song’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

In the second, Ils ont, the ‘s’ actually have the ‘z’ sound, which is known as a liaison, since the ils and ont are connected together. DO say ‘eel-zong’, paying attention to not saying the -ng sound.

3. The ‘O’ Sound

Sometimes, you will see a string of vowels in French that look a bit puzzling. Don’t do too much work, but rather make the one vowel sound, ‘o’.

When pronouncing this group of vowels, your lips should also form the ‘o’ shape. Check out the examples below.

Example one: Beau (handsome), which sounds like the ‘-bow’ in ‘rainbow’.

Example two: Eau (water), which sounds just like the letter ‘-o’.

4. The Nasal ‘On’ Sound

The nasal sound in words like Bonjour (hello) and cent (hundred) is a very recognizable French sound.

Non-French speakers can generally pick up that French is being spoken when hearing these sounds.

Think of the English word, ‘song’. Say the word, but stop when you reach the ‘-ng’ sound. In the French word chanson (song), for example, it sounds like ‘shan-song’.

5. The ‘R’ Sound

Fin (the end) is the most difficult French sound to produce as well as the  most used sound in French.

While this may take the most time to master, you will definitely feel like a true français or française once this is achieved.

It sounds a bit like you’re gargling water at the back of your throat. For example, Bonjour, Paris! (Hello, Paris!).

The ‘r’ sound is at the end of Bonjour and in the middle of Paris. Practice saying this phrase five times a day and you’ll get it down fast.

Your Turn!

Keep these French pronunciation shortcuts in mind when you’re practicing your accent. If you concentrate on the proper pronunciation, you’ll be sounding like a real français or française in no time.

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French lessons in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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7 Proven Strategies to Help You Ace Your Next AP French Exam

ap french exam

Are you nervous about your upcoming AP French exam? Below, French teacher Jinky B. shares seven fool-proof strategies that will help you ace your exam…

Studying for your AP French exam can be intimidating–not to mention overwhelming. Luckily, there are proven and applicable methods you can use to help set yourself up for success.

Below are some of my favorite study methods that I suggest my students do before taking their AP French exam. You can either do these exercises by yourself or with your French tutor.

Note, that these study strategies can also be used when preparing for the International Baccalaureate French exam.

7 Study Tips to Help You Nail Your AP French Exam

1. Create a study plan

While it might seem a little soon, start studying two to three months before the AP French exam. The more time that you leave for review, the less time you should have to review each day.

Consistent repetition is ideal for learning a language. Set aside 30 minutes a day to review a specific grammar subject; for example, agreement, prepositions, and articles.

2. Review important French conjunctions

While it’s important to know the basic conjunctions, such as mais (but) and lorsque (when), it’s a good idea to start reviewing those special constructions that will you set you above your peers.

Coordinating conjunctions for emphasis: ne…ni…ni (neither…nor) and ou…ou (either…or).

Also, pay attention to those special conjunctions that are used with the subjunctive tense, such as quoique (even though).

3. Practice conjugating regular verbs and commonly occurring irregular verbs

Make sure that you’re familiar with the conjugations of the three different verb groups: -er, -ir, and -re. Also, be sure to you know the conjugations of être and avoir.

These are two verbs that you will encounter when conjugating not only the simple tenses of present, imperfect, and future, but also as a helping verb when writing in the passé composé and plus-que-parfait.

Keep in mind that when using the passé composé with étre, there needs to be subject agreement.

For example, Elles sont allées au cinéma. (They went to the movies). This is a group of women, so you must add an e and an s for agreement.

4. Listen to French podcasts and the radio

One of the best ways to prepare for your AP French exam or to simply maintain your French comprehension is by listening to podcasts.

Set aside five to ten minutes, ideally in the morning so that you’re able to start thinking in French without all the distractions of the day.

Most French podcasts offer different levels, but you should be listening to ones at the highest levels. I recommend Coffee Break French because it’s quick and easy with the structured time frame.

More authentic listening is ideal, so just tune into French radio. Most can be streamed online or via your phone.

5. Watch French movies without subtitles

There are a ton of American movies that you can stream in the French language. When watching, try not display the subtitles because they do not always coincide with what is being said on the screen. Rather, sit back and watch the movie!

If you need some help finding what to watch, browse through these two posts for some great options:

6. Talk to your friends

Use your readily available sources. You’re most likely going to be in a classroom with other anxious students preparing for the AP French exam.

Gather a group of students together and set aside 30 minutes to discuss a topic. It could be something that is pre-determined, such as a movie that everyone watched. Or it could be something more relaxed, such as speaking in French over lunch.

7. Remember to relax

This is the most important part of test preparation. Relax. You’ve prepared for months. Do something that you enjoy. Sleep well. Eat a healthy breakfast. Put yourself in a positive mind-set. Cramming last minute benefits no one. So, just know that you’re prepared and you will succeed!

Good Luck!

Now that you have some proven methods for success, go tackle your AP French exam with confidence.

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French lessons in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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