French Greetings For Travelers – Bonjour! Comment ca va?

These simple French greetings will serve you well on your trip to Paris. And don't forget, politeness counts!

Polite Parisians always end their greetings with either Madame, Monsieur or Mademoiselle. Therefore, "hello" is always "bonjour, madame" or "bonjour, monsieur".

Bonjour is the catch-all French greeting meaning "good morning, good afternoon, and good day". At about 7 pm, you'll notice Parisians switch to bonsoir — good evening. Bonne nuit (good night), is only used when you're actually on your way to bed.

Confused? Don't be. There are several easy French courses online that can help you maneouver through French and tackle more complex questions and answers, as well as educate you about French culture.

Meanwhile, let's get started —

French Greetings Etiquette

French Greetings

Whenever you enter a restaurant, store or café, always say bonjour when you enter. It's really an important ritual in French life.

You'll often hear Parisians say something like, "Bonjour, monsieur-dame", to cover all possibilities of whether there's a man or women (or both) working in the store. And always say au revoir when you leave. Toujours — always!

  • Bonjour — Hello.
  • Bonjour, Madame
  • Au revoir — Goodbye.

Formal & Informal French Greetings

French Greetings

The French language has two distinct ways of addressing people. That is, two ways of saying "you".

Tu is reserved for family and friends and children, while vous is used for unfamiliar people and those who are older.

Tu — is used when addressing a familar person: a friend, child, family member.

Vous — is used when addressing anyone who is not a friend, a child or a family member. Use the vous form with your boss and with professionals, like your doctor or lawyer.

Vous — is also the plural form of both Tu and Vous. (Got it!?)

Comment ca va? — How are you? (informal)
Comment-allez vous? — How are you? (formal or plural)

Ca va? — How's it going? Literally translates as "does it go"? An informal greeting.
Je vais bien — I am well.

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Other Useful French Greetings and Expressions

  • A la prochaine! — Until next time!
  • Comment vous appelez-vous? — What's your name? (formal)
  • Comment t'appelle-tu? — What's your name? (informal)
  • A bientot! — (See you) Later!

  • Quelle bonne suprise! — What a nice surprise!

  • Je vous presente mon ami — I'd like to introduce my friend. (formal)
  • Je te presente mon ami — This is my friend. (informal)

  • Enchanté de faire votre connaissance — Nice to make your acquaintance.
  • Comment epelez-vous votre nom? — How do you spell your name?
  • Quel est votre address? — What is your address?

French Greetings in Action

French Greetings

Now, let's put it all together it a short conversation using common French greetings.

Laurent and David, who work together, have bumped into each other at the airport.

Laurent: Salut, David! Comment vas-tu?
 – Hi David, how are you?

David: Laurent! Je vais bien, et toi?
 – Laurent! I am well. And you?

Laurent: Tres bien. Tu es ici en vacances?
 – Very well. Are you here on vacation?

David: Oui. Je te presente ma famille. Ma femme Brigitte, ma fille Juliette, et mon fils Jean-Paul.
 – Yes, let me introduce my family. My wife Brigitte, my daughter Juliette and my son Jean-Paul.

Laurent: Enchante!
 – Enchanted! (Pleased to meet you.)

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