Paris, the City of Lights, is the European capital many Americans dream about one day visiting. Imagine taking strolls along the River Seine, visiting world-famous landmarks and museums and eating buttery croissants at an outdoor cafe. Having lived in France for almost 4 years, we’ve learned a few things about French culture and its citizens. Before you set out on your fantasy trip, take a look at our tips for things to know before visiting Paris.
Update: Check current COVID-19 requirements before travel.
Learn Basic French
Learning basic French will go a long way to making your trip successful. When visiting a new country, it’s important to learn at least a few basic words and phrases in the local language. Yes, many people in the touristy areas speak English, but you shouldn’t arrive without being able to greet someone in their native tongue.
Good Day = Bonjour /bon zor/
Good Evening = Bonsoir /bon swah/
Good Bye = Au Revoir /oh-ruh-vwah/
Please = S’il vous plaît /see voo play/
Thank you = Merci /mer-sea/
Excuse me & sorry = pardon /pahr-doah/
You’re Welcome = De rien /duh-rhee-uh/
Ma’am = Madame /mah-dahm/
Sir = Monsieur /mis-eeyuh/
Yes = Oui /we/
No = Non /no/
Good to know:
Take away (as in your food to go) = á importer /ah ahm-por-tay/
Do You Speak English? = Parlez-vous anglais? /par-lay voo an-glay/
I don’t understand. = Je ne comprends pas. /juh nuh com-pren pah/
Where Is the Bathroom? = Où sont les toilettes? /ehw ay lay twah-let/
When entering an establishment such as a shop or restaurant, it is always polite to say “Bonjour” in greeting. It is also polite to say “Au revoir” when leaving. Of course, the use of “S’il vous plaît” and “Merci” are important just as in the U.S. and other countries.
Learning the numbers 1 – 10 will also be beneficial.