5 French Words to Know before to visit Paris


I'm Anthony French Chef at Pastreez. I was born and raised in Paris where I learn the fine art of macarons. Lots of customers always ask me for advice about Paris. Because of an upcoming trip, or simply to know about French Culture.

We'll not teach you how to speak French :) but I want you to know a few words and sentences that might be helpful when traveling to France. So here are the 5 French Words you need to know before to visit Paris.

  • Salut

Pronounced [Sa-Lu]. This is the typical friendly "Hi" or "Howdy" that you have in the US. When the classic "Bonjour" is more formal, Salut makes the introduction more intimate with your audience. But beware, french people might be too formal sometimes, so you need to use it in good situations.

Good Example:

Asking someone in the street for the Eiffel Tower: "Salut! Où est la tour Eiffel?" - Which Means: "Hi there! Where is the Eiffel Tower?" In this situation, you friendly ask someone in the street for quick help. You can use "Salut" in this situation.

Bad Example:

Entering a restaurant to ask if they have a table available. You can't use Salut in this situation. Use Bonjour instead. Here you are in a less "friendly" situation, it can sound "Unrespectful". French language has words for friendly situation. Salut is one of them!

  • Ca va?

Yes. I guess you know this one. It means "How are you doing?". You can use ça va in all circumstances, just like in English. For example, use it like "Salut, ça va?" for any introduction sentence with someone. No worries on how to use ça va anytime, anywhere !

A little more elaborate, you can also say "Comment allez vous" to ask someone How are you doing. It's a little bit more chic and less friendly, but you can use it too. Keep in mind French has different words for similar meaning. The only difference is the circumstances you use it in.

  • J'ai besoin d'aide

When you are not in your country, it's good to know how to ask help. This sentence J'ai besoin d'aide means I need help. Let's take an example.

J'ai besoin d'aide, je suis perdu means I need help, I'm lost. Use that sentence to ask someone in the street for your direction.

J'ai besoin d'aide, je dois aller à l'aéroport means I need help, I need to go to the airport.

  • S'il Vous Plaît

S'il vous plaît is Please in English. Not much else to say except you can use it no matter what situation.

  • Merci Beaucoup

Classic french word that you probably already know, but still. Merci Beaucoup means Thank you so much. Like in English, there is no rules on how to use it, just to be polite when asking for water in a restaurant, or after check in in a hotel. You got it.

  • About French culture

A detailed post about french people will come soon. Here is a sneak peak.

You might see on the news the Yellow Jackets movements, or riots and things like that going on in France. Those are real. The context in France for centuries has been Civil Rights and revolution.

What you need to understand, if we compare with the US, France is a very old country. Centuries of Kings, fights and battles, all around Europe earning its colonies one at the time. In France, they know their rights and fought for it for a long time. It is in their DNA.

The Pros of this culture are all the social help that you can imagine: Unemployment, free Health Coverage, high minimum wage, and so on. You can live good in France. And relax! The system is made so you can't lose your job easily, and the "dream" of most french is to keep a job quiet and stay since they retire. Did I mention retirement? Yes French can have as high as 75% of your last 6 months average salary as retirement wage monthly (until the end). But I'll explain a little bit more in the next article.

The cons? Well France is not a very good to become an Entrepreneur. That is why my wife and I left France for California to build Pastreez (Learn more about us here). First of all, French people have a culture of safety, not risk. In France, the classic path is to get a stable job, get married, have children, retire and that's it. There is not much room for taking risks and having dreams, or simply doing what you love. The focus will be just to have a stable situation before to have a happy situation. I guess it is true everywhere, but especially in France.

Plus, even for those that are ready to take risks and build their company, the administrative path is so long, costly, and discouraging. Remember when we talked about the centuries of fights for rights? All this bureaucracy to start your company is an heritage of these ages.

An example, if you want to create an SARL, similar to LLC in the US, it takes about three months. You need to have at first an article on the newspaper saying that your company is "opening for business". This only costs $150 and it's useless and mandatory of course. A hundred years ago, newspapers were the only way of communication. The article to open business was a way to announce to the population that a fellow citizen is opening a shop, and to make sure that there is no one opposed to this business.

Then, you also need to open a business bank account. And banks can simply refuse to open a simple account to you with no explanation (it happened to me twice). Then you need to have the operating agreement of your company. All this is mandatory prior to get your business filed.

For any question about France or Paris, if you're planning a travel or simply curious, just comment below we'll always happy to answer. Oh and by the way, life is sweeter with Macarons. Pick your flavors and try our treats out.


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