Easy French Phrases You Can Learn When Visiting French Restaurants

Visiting a French restaurant can be a delightful experience, and knowing a few basic French phrases can enhance this experience significantly. 


Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Whether you’re dining in France or at a local French bistro, these phrases will help you navigate the menu, communicate with the staff, and enjoy your meal with a touch of authenticity.

Greetings and Basic Etiquette

When visiting a French restaurant, starting off with the right greetings can set a positive tone for your dining experience. 

Here’s how you can incorporate basic French etiquette into your interaction:

Bonjour (bohn-zhoor) – Hello

This is the universal greeting in French. Use it when entering the restaurant or when you first meet the staff. It’s polite and shows respect for the local culture.

S’il vous plaît (seel voo pleh) – Please

Adding “s’il vous plaît” to any request is a sign of good manners. Whether you’re asking for a menu, a glass of water, or anything else, this phrase is essential.

Merci (mair-see) – Thank you

Expressing gratitude is important in any culture. Use “merci” to show appreciation for the service, the food, or even when the staff brings you the check.

L’addition, s’il vous plaît (Lah-dee-see-on, seel voo pleh) – The check, please

When you’re finished with your meal and ready to pay, use this phrase. It’s a polite way to request the bill.

Ordering Food and Drinks

Ordering food and drinks in French can be a delightful part of your dining experience. Here’s how to navigate this process:

Je voudrais… (zhuh voo-dray) – I would like…

Begin your order with “Je voudrais,” followed by the dish or drink you wish to order. It translates to “I would like…” and is a polite way to express your choice.

Qu’est-ce que vous recommandez? (kes-kuh voo reh-koh-mahn-dey) – What do you recommend?

If you’re unsure about what to order, ask the staff for recommendations. It shows trust in their expertise and can lead you to try some of the best dishes.

Une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît (Oon tahbl poor duh, seel voo pleh) – A table for two, please

Use this phrase to request a table. Adjust the number according to your party size.

Discussing Dietary Preferences

Discussing your dietary preferences is crucial, especially if you have specific needs or restrictions:

Je suis végétarien/végétarienne (zhuh swee veh-zhay-tar-ee-en/veh-zhay-tar-ee-en-nuh) – I am vegetarian

If you follow a vegetarian diet, this phrase will help you communicate your dietary preference clearly.

Sans gluten, s’il vous plaît (Sahn gloo-ten, seel voo pleh) – Gluten-free, please

For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, this phrase is key to ensuring your dietary needs are met.

Compliments and Feedback

Sharing your dining experience through compliments or feedback is appreciated:

C’était délicieux! (say-tey dey-lee-syuh) – It was delicious!

If you enjoyed your meal, compliment the chef by saying “C’était délicieux!” It’s a great way to express your satisfaction with the food.

Le service était excellent (luh sehr-vees ey-tey ehk-suh-lahnt) – The service was excellent

Complimenting the service is as important as praising the food. Use this phrase to express that you were pleased with the service you received.

Navigating the Restaurant

Où sont les toilettes ? (oo sohn lay twah-let) – Where are the restrooms?

Use this phrase to ask for the location of the restroom in the restaurant.

Pouvez-vous recommander un vin ? (poo-veh voo reh-koh-mahn-dey ung van) – Can you recommend a wine?

When in doubt about which wine to choose, you can ask the staff for a wine recommendation.

Avez-vous un menu végétarien ? (ah-veh voo ung meh-noo veh-zhay-tar-ee-en) – Do you have a vegetarian menu?

Use this phrase if you’re looking for a menu with vegetarian options.

Requesting Assistance

Pouvez-vous apporter de l’eau, s’il vous plaît ? (poo-veh voo ah-proh-tay duh oh, seel voo pleh) – Can you bring some water, please?

If you need water for the table, use this polite request.

Est-ce que vous avez un menu en anglais ? (ess-kuh voo ah-veh ung meh-noo ahn ahn-gleh) – Do you have a menu in English?

If you’re more comfortable with an English menu, you can inquire if one is available.

Learning these simple yet effective French phrases can greatly enhance your dining experience in a French restaurant. They help bridge the language gap, show respect for the local culture, and can even make your meal more enjoyable. 

Bon appétit!

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