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Easy French Sentences to Help in Your First Week

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
French Words Sentences Language Eating

You may feel as though your first week in France ought to be a hectic mix of making appointments, choosing furniture and becoming fluent in the language.

While this is a very impressive prospect, it is not at all practical or necessary.

It is far better to allow yourself and your family the first week to get your bearings, have a look around your new location and have a few days to look after yourself. It is more than likely that you will have spent the past few weeks, if not months, packing boxes, arranging removals and filling in forms. In order to make the most of your new life in France, a few days of spoiling yourselves before the next round of official paperwork ensues is in order.

Before you leave, arrange for your UK car insurance company to insure you for your first month and have your estate agent connect your utilities. This will at least allow you the first week to take a deep breath and congratulate yourselves on completing the life-changing move. It is perfectly acceptable to treat the first week as a holiday - you can take a leisurely coffee and croissant for breakfast, go out for lunch or dinner and enjoy the easy-to-prepare cheese, bread and salad from the markets.

To help you enjoy a stress free week when you first arrive in France, here are a few sentences that will allow you to relax a little.

Being Understood

Do you speak English? - Parlez-vous anglais?

If you have made the effort to say 'bonjour Madame' when you greet someone in a shop, office or restaurant, it is fine to ask if they speak English, especially if you follow it with -

I don't speak much French - Je ne parle pas beaucoup de francais.

I don't understand - Je ne comprends pas.

Can you help me please? - Pouvez-vous m'aider, s'il vous plait?

You can use this in all manner of situations as an opening sentence, which can then be followed by explaining you do not speak French.

Eating Out

In France, breakfast in cafes is usually served between 7am and 10am. It is called 'le petit dejeuner', which literally means 'little lunch'.

Lunch is served between 12 noon and 2pm, with many places not keen to serve food after 1.45pm. The word for lunch is 'le dejeuner'.

Dinner is served later than in the UK, with many restaurants just getting started to serve at 8pm, although you will find many open from around 7pm until 11.30pm, with food served until around 11pm. The word for dinner is 'le diner'. You may find service slow compared to what you are used to in the UK - just enjoy your glass of wine and take your time, this is what you moved for, after all!

Can I have the menu, please? - Puis-je avoir la carte, s'il vous plait?

Do you have any vegetarian dishes? Avez-vous des plats vegetarians?

I would like… - Je voudrais….

It is worth noting that the cuts of meat in France are rather different to the UK, with rib eye called 'entrecote' - common on menus and a t-bone is called 'contre-filet'.


In your first week you can enjoy all the sights and sounds of French life that you have been looking forward to - the markets and the shops are a colourful place to spend time wandering around. You can return home with some fresh ingredients or a ready-made meal. Don't be afraid to point at what you want and a friendly 'bonjour' (hello) and 'merci' (thank you) can go a long way.

How much is this? - C'est combien?

I'd like some bread, please - Je voudrais du pain, s'il vous plait.

A piece of … - Un morceau de…

The most important thing to remember in your first week is that you have gone through a lot to get here and you will have many more issues and situations to deal with, so enjoy your first few days and give yourselves a chance to recharge your batteries.

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Hi We lived in France for 8 years my husband worked under a French contract, but moved back to England for job opportunities.My husband is in a home based global role and would definitely love to move back but he has a UK salary now.I understand as a French resident he would pay taxes in France and recover them from the UK but am worried about the "Cotistations" how do we set them up or pay for them?? If anyone knows or can help we would so appreciate it.Thank you
Famille Des filles - 21-Jul-15 @ 4:21 PM
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