How much do you know about French greetings and salutations? Knowing how to approach and greet someone in France is crucial as a beginner – what better way to strike up a conversation and make some new friends?
To get you started, here are a few easy greetings in French so you can make an excellent first impression!
15 French Greetings to Know
Remember, using proper French etiquette, how you say “hello” depends on your relationship with the other person and the social setting. (Scroll to the next section for some related “dos and dont’s”)!
1. Bonjour – Good morning / hello
Use bonjour to say “good morning” or “hello” to someone when you’re seeing them for the first time today. If you encounter the same person again later in the day, it’s appropriate to use a less formal version of “hello.”
2. Enchanté(e) – Nice to meet you
In a more formal setting, it’s polite to indicate that you’re delighted to meet someone after they introduce themselves, and this French greeting is the perfect way to do so.
3. Bonsoir – Good evening / hello
This greeting is used in similar situations as bonjour, but reserved for the evening.
4. Salut – Hi
Considered one of the more casual French greetings, salut is appropriate when you see someone again later in the day.
5. Coucou – Hey
Close friends use this French greeting often. You can skip the formal bonjour and use this word, or even ciao, when seeing close comrades.
SEE ALSO: 50 Inspiring French Quotes
6. Ça fait longtemps, dis donc – Long time, no see
An ideal greeting between old friends, young French people tend to use this phrase often.
7. Âllo – Hello
This French 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 version is correct and can be used in formal and 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 one of the very casual French greetings, so we recommend using with close friends.
RELATED: 50 Beautiful French Words
11. Au revoir! – Goodbye!
Rather formal, this is a safe way to say goodbye in French no matter the social setting.
12. Salut! – Bye!
This French word for “goodbye” is much more casual than au revoir.
13. Ciao! – See ya!
This phrase is Italian in origin, but is popular among the younger French population.
14. À plus! – Later!
This is one of those easy greetings in French that is a simple way to indicate you’ll see someone later, but at an unspecific time.
15. À demain! – See you tomorrow!
The word demain can be replaced with any day of the week if you know that you will see the other person soon.
Dos and Don’ts for French Greetings
The proper etiquette for greeting people in France relies on a few factors. While it’s expected and considered polite to greet everyone, from colleagues to shopkeepers, the way you greet each person depends on your relationship with them and the social setting. For example…
- Les bises (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 formal or business 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 if you don’t know them well enough.
Learn More French Greetings & Phrases
Once you’ve mastered these greetings in French, you can start to work on more conversational skills! Here are some additional guides for you to check out:
- 22 MORE Useful French Phrases for Striking Up a Conversation
- 25 Conversational French Phrases Every Beginner Should Know
- Top 8 French Phrases You’ll Need to Know Before Traveling in France
- Bon Voyage: 5 Useful French Phrases for Travelers
Want to learn even more French? Your options are endless! To start, try working one-on-one with a French tutor near you. Or, you can always sign up for some free online French classes if you’re on a budget. Good luck!
Photo by Garry Knight