We racked our brains to come up with some go-to French phrases...and realized we know how to say "je m'appelle" and "voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?". Yep, thanks to nowhere near enough language lessons in school, and far too many reruns of Moulin Rouge, we can stutter "my name is", "do you want to sleep with me tonight?" and not a whole lot in between. If you're feeling equally uncultured, or just want to brush up on your lingo before traveling to France, then have no fear. These 12 essential phrases will have you speaking like a local in no time at all. Voila!
BTW, take the phonetic pronunciation with a grain of salt...
Do you have wifi here?
French: Avez-vous le wifi ici?
Phonetic pronunciation: Av-vey vou le wi-fi i-see
This is, without a doubt, one of the most important phrases to learn. Yes, it might be vital for checking in for flights and stuff, but it'll also let you check in on Facebook for that all-important brag post about your adventures.
Hi, I’m trying to find my Airbnb. Here’s the address.
French: Salut, je cherche mon Airbnb. Voici l’adresse.
Phonetic pronunciation: Sal-u jzuh sh-ersh mon Airbnb. Vwasi ladress.
Let’s be honest, who can actually find their way around without Google Maps these days? Not us. Thankfully, we've got you covered with this handy phrase.
Where can I find the best macarons?
French: Où puis-je trouver les meilleurs macarons?
Phonetic pronunciation: U pui jzuh tr-oove-vay le may-er maca-ron.
Mmm macarons – so iconic, so pretty, so delicious. You'd think they'd be amazing no matter where you go in France, but skip the tourist queues and find the very best with a tip-off from a local.
How can I find you on Instagram?
French: Comment puis-je te retrouver sur Instagram?
Phonetic pronunciation: Komen pui jzuh t r-tr-oove-vay syr Instagram.
Getting someone’s Insta handle is pretty much the first step towards making friends in the 21st century. Facebook stalking is so 2015.
Excuse me, where did you buy that croissant?
French: Excusez-moi, où avez-vous acheté ce croissant?
Phonetic pronunciation: Eksykze-mwa u avey-vu ash-et-ay se krow-san.
Don't suffer food envy in silence. If someone strolls by with the most buttery, flakey pastry around, find out where to devour one yourself....and maybe a pain au chocolat too whilst you’re at it... #foodgasm
Can you recommend a cool bar near this area?
French: Pourriez-vous recommander un bon bar dans ce coin?
Phonetic pronunciation: Pur-rie-vu reko-man-dey un bon bar dan se kwan.
It's not hard to find any cool bar thanks to the wonders of the internet, but if you find one too easily, there's always the risk of tourist infestation. So, find a hidden gem and ask a local.
I suck at French, can you speak English?
French: Mon français est naze, pouvez-vous parler anglais?
Phonetic pronunciation: Mon fran-cay e naz puve-vu par-lay ang-lay
Luckily for us untalented linguists, most French people speak a little English these days. Failing that, there’s always waving your arms about.
Can we have some more bread please?
French: Peut-on avoir plus de pain, s’il vous plaît?
Phonetic pronunciation: Peu-ton avwar ply de pa sil vu ple
No one does bread quite like the French. Meals out are, of course, accompanied by a bread bowl that's usually refilled before you nab the last piece. Your waiter might need a friendly reminder though. You're welcome.
Sorry, I’m not interested. I have a boy/ girlfriend.
French: Je suis désolé(e), ça m’intéresse pas. J’ai un copain/une copine.
Phonetic pronunciation: Jzuh swui dezo-lay sa main-ter-ess pa. Jzay un kop-an/kopin.
If there is one phrase that's universally used in languages across the world, this is it. If a holiday fling is not on your agenda, it'll definitely come in handy.
Want to go home with me?
French: Tu veux rentrer avec moi?
Phonetic pronunciation: Ty veu ren-tray avek mwa.
But then again...the French do have a rep for being a nation of charmers. While it may not be the most romantic phrase to learn in the language of love, it gets straight to the point. And that's vital when you're flying home the next day...
A glass of white/red wine, please.
French: Un vin blanc/rouge s’il vous plaît.
Phonetic pronunciation: Un vain blan/rooj sil vu play.
This phrase is an absolute must if you’re traveling in France. Though maybe it's best to be honest with yourself and go straight to ordering a whole bottle (une bouteille).
I’m too drunk, I need an Uber.
French: Je suis trop bourrée, j’ai besoin d’un Uber.
Phonetic pronunciation: Jzuh swui tro bur-ay jzay bez-wan den Uber
Shouldn’t have ordered that last bottle of wine? 1) Sorry for the above advice, 2) it happens to the best of us. At least Uber guarantees minimal talking, because in spite of these life-changing phrases, you might still have a little work to do.
If you do want to learn the language a little more fully, then check out these apps that'll genuinely help you out.