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Travel vocabulary

Whether you are an avid traveler or planning your first trip to the French-speaking world, mastering French travel vocabulary is essential to fully enjoy your experience.

travel vocabulary

In this course, we'll guide you through key terms that will help you communicate, navigate, and explore new horizons with confidence.

Before the trip: planning and preparations

  • Air ticket : Reservation for your flight.
  • Passport : Identity document required to travel abroad.
  • Visa : Legal authorization to enter certain countries.
  • Route : Detailed plan of your trip, including destinations and dates.
  • Hosting : Place where you are going to stay (hotel, hostel, apartment, etc.).
  • Suitcase : Main luggage to store your belongings.
  • Backpack : Smaller baggage that you can carry on your shoulders.

At the airport and during travel

  • Port : Airport area for departures or arrivals.
  • Recording : Process where you give your information for your flight.
  • Customs : Border security control. Inspection of baggage and documents upon arrival.
  • Boarding : Boarding the plane.
  • Theft : Travel by plane from one city to another.
  • Peeling : Moment when the plane leaves the ground.
  • Landing : Moment when the plane returns to earth.
  • Transfer : Change of plane or terminal during the trip.

Explore and enjoy the destination

  • Tourist attractions : Popular sites to visit.
  • Map : Graphic representation of the region.
  • Touristic guidebook : Book or person providing information about the destination.
  • Monument : Important building or structure.
  • Plage : Sandy area along the sea or ocean.
  • Museum : Place that exhibits works of art or historical objects.
  • Restaurant : Places where you can eat.
  • Local cuisine : Traditional food of the region.

Emergencies and basic needs

  • Help : Request for assistance.
  • Hospital : Place for medical care.
  • Police : Policeman.
  • Silver : Means of payment.
  • Water : Vital liquid.
  • Food : Foods necessary for nutrition.

By mastering this essential French travel vocabulary, you will be ready to tackle any situation and fully immerse yourself in the culture of your destination. Have a good trip and enjoy your exploration!

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How Well Do You Know French Vocabulary?

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Why take our french vocabulary test.

French is one of the few languages that is spoken across five continents. This means that if you travel to any of these continents, you are likely to encounter French-speaking people. Beyond its historical and cultural significance, this language is used today in international diplomacy and trade, and some of these French-speaking countries are big players in the global economy, such as France, Canada, and Switzerland, to name a few. The strong economic presence of these French-speaking countries in international trade makes the French language an important language for business. In addition, the French language is widely used in numerous industries, such as fashion, luxury goods, and gastronomy, and prestigious fashion houses and renowned culinary establishments are based in French-speaking countries. This makes fluency in French highly advantageous for professionals in these fields.

If  you are looking to visit or move to any of these French-speaking countries, you may need to learn French and do some French practice first. And what better way to practice French than to take a French quiz. This quiz will help introduce you to some French basics. Or if you’re looking for a refresher, a French test can help you review what you’ve already learned.

Take our French Vocabulary Quiz today and start your journey to learning French!

French, the language of love and diplomacy, is a widely spoken and influential language that originated in France and has spread far beyond its borders. With approximately 300 million speakers across the globe, it is the official language in 29 countries and serves as one of the working languages of major international organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Olympic Committee. Besides that, the French language is also a second language in many other countries and is taught in schools.

The history of the French language is deeply intertwined with the history of France itself, with its roots tracing back to Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, it became the language of the aristocracy and the court, contributing to its widespread adoption among the educated elite. During the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, the French language reached its peak of influence, with French intellectuals such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Descartes making significant contributions to the fields of literature, philosophy, and scientific advancements. The spread of the French language overseas during the colonial era further enhanced its global significance, with French colonies in Africa and the Caribbean adopting French as the official language of administration, education, and culture.

Today, it is evident that the French language has played a role in developing the artistic and cultural landscape of the world. French literature is celebrated for its influential works, such as “The Song of Roland” and the timeless masterpieces of Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, and Albert Camus. French cinema has also left an indelible mark on the international film industry, with filmmakers and actors recognized for their creativity and talent. French cuisine is renowned worldwide, with French gastronomy recognized as a UNESCO cultural heritage.

Below are a few languages that are related to French in that they also belong to the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family:

Once famous for its use in diplomacy, the influence of the French language has grown leaps and bounds as it is widely touted to be the language of the future, with projections of over 750 million people speaking it by the year 2050.

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French Vocabulary: Travel and Tourism

Posted by Barbara Kruger on Friday, July 17, 2015 · Leave a Comment  

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French Vocabulary: Travel and Tourism le vocabulaire français: les voyages et le tourisme

  • Travel and tourism terms are used in basic navigation scenarios.
  • Gain the freedom to explore entire cities and beyond.

French travel vocabulary can help you get to where you need to go. You might be surprised that you don’t need to be fluent in French in order to travel! Be sure to also check out the lesson on Travel Arrangements !

un agent de voyage : travel agent

L’ agent de voyage aide avec l’organisation des voyages. The travel agent helps with travel arrangements.

une agence de voyages : travel agency

Ma soeur travaille dans une agence de voyages . My sister works in a travel agency.

les bagages (masculine) : baggage (always used in the plural in French)

Il y a des restrictions de bagages . There are baggage restrictions.

une banque : bank

La banque est à côté de la gare. The bank is next to the train station.

un billet : ticket

J’achète nos billets d’avion. I am buying our airline tickets.

un bureau de change : currency exchange service

Le bureau de change est dans l’aéroport. The currency exchange service is in the airport.

le change :  exchange (of currency)

Le taux de change est favorable. The exchange rate is favorable.

la douane : customs

Il faut arrêter à la douane . We must stop at customs.

une entrée : entrance

L’ entrée dans le musée est à gauche. The museum entrance is on the left.

un guichet : ticket counter

Nous faisons la queue au guichet . We are standing on line at the ticket counter.

un guide touristique : tour guide / tour guidebook

Je vais consulter mon guide touristique . I am going to consult my tour guidebook.

l’immigration  (masculine) : immigration

L’agent de l’ immigration tamponne nos passeports. The immigration officer stamps our passports.

l’information touristique (feminine) : tourist information

Ils cherchent de l’ information touristique . They (masculine) are looking for tourist information.

un plan de ville : city map

Je voudrais un plan de ville , s’il vous plaît. I would like a city map, please.

la saison touristique : tourist season

La saison touristique dure de mai jusqu’à septembre. The tourist season lasts from May to September.

un site touristique : tourist attraction

Il y a beaucoup de sites touristiques dans la ville. There are many tourist attractions in the city.

une sortie : exit

La sortie est clairement indiquée. The exit is clearly marked.

les toilettes  (feminine) / les W.C.  (masculine) : restrooms

Il faut payer un euro pour utiliser les toilettes . You must pay one euro to use the restrooms.

(les toilettes des) Dames : ladies’ restroom

Elle entre les toilettes des Dames . She enters the ladies’ restroom.

(les toilettes des) Hommes : men’s restroom

Il entre les toilettes des Hommes . He enters the men’s’ restroom.

une vaccination : vaccination

Les vaccinations ne sont pas nécessaires pour voyager en France. Vaccinations are not necessary to travel to France.

une valise : suitcase

Ma valise est la rouge là-bas. My suitcase is the red one over there.

un visa : visa

Il faut demander un visa du consulat. You must request a visa from the consulate.

une visite guidée : sightseeing tour

La visite guidée part de l’entrée de l’hôtel. The sightseeing tour departs from the hotel entrance.

Qui est votre agent de voyage? Who is your travel agent?

Que fait un agent d’immigration? What does an immigration officer do?

Quand ouvre l’agence de voyages? When does the travel agency open?

Où est le bureau de change, s’il vous plaît? Where is the currency exchange service, please?

Pourquoi est-il nécessaire passer par la douane? Why is it necessary to pass through customs?

Comment aller au site touristique? How do we get to the tourist attraction?

Combien coûte le billet de train? How much does the train ticket cost?

Quel est le taux d’échange? What is the exchange rate?

  • Quizlet: French – Travel and Tourism via Kruger
  • Youtube / mahalodotcom: How to Say Travel Phrases in French
  • YouTube / geobeats: Basic French Phrases – Paris Travel Guide
  • Youtube / Learn French: Travel Vocabulary
  • Youtube / David I: French Airport Vocabulary
  • Youtube / David I: French Taxi Vocabulary

Category: French Vocabulary Lessons · Tags: francais , french , tourism , tourisme , travel , vocabulaire , vocabulary , voyages

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French Transport Vocabulary: 106 Words and Phrases

Planning on traveling within a French-speaking country?

Whether you’re about to travel and need to learn particular words or phrases before you go, or you just want to brush up on the language, French transportation vocabulary is essential.

In this post, you’ll find 106 French transport words and phrases , plus some ways you can practice this vocabulary!

How Can French Transport Vocabulary Help You?

The essentials for all types of travel in french, getting your ticket, travel time, getting around the metro, travel by car, bus transport, travel by boat, train travel, two-wheel travel, how to practice french transport vocabulary, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Transportation vocabulary is one of the most important French essentials to learn if you want to get around efficiently in a French-speaking region.

If you don’t at least know how to ask important questions at the ticket booth, make sense of the signs in the metro station or find the correct terminal , you can’t expect to get very far.

There may even be times when you’re abroad and don’t have a handy phrasebook with you and no one around you speaks English. So don’t waste precious travel time but make the preparations now by learning the most important transportation words and phrases below.

French transport vocabulary is also helpful even if you don’t have a trip booked. As you’ll see in the list below, many transport terms are widely-used in other contexts as well —such as directional words or movement verbs. Learning them will give your general French vocabulary an important boost.

Whether you’re on your morning metro commute or taking a taxi to meet a friend for dinner, there are just certain words that you’ll almost always need to know.

*In French, you use un ticket  for bus and metro tickets and  un billet  for train and plane tickets.

In this section, there are both general metro words you’ll need to know and some terms that are specific to the metro system in France.

Here are the essential French words you need to know about traveling by car.

Buses are a big part of everyday life in France. Chances are you’ll use them a lot if you’re going abroad.

Though you may think you’ll never travel by boat, chances are you’ll take a cruise on the Seine River if you’re ever in Paris. If so, it’ll help to know the following vocabulary.

Here are the most important words and phrases you need to know when traveling by airplane.

*The French use the same word for “door” to denote an airport gate.

Here are some basic train words and phrases.

*Note that this is the same word to denote a dock in the “Travel by Boat” section.

Renting a bike is a very popular way to get around in French cities. You’ll see bike shares nearly everywhere you go.

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For many language learners, rote memorization is like traveling in circles. Here are some fun ways to fast-track your memorization of French transport vocabulary.

  • You could study the vocabulary in this flashcard set on Quizlet or practice transport vocabulary on , a resource that turns vocabulary into catchy online games.
  • The YouTube channel YouLearnFrench has a great video covering the different types of transport in French. You can also watch Easy Language’s interview with French citizens about public transportation.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

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Public Transportation

Means of transportation in French : Vocabulary list and prepositions

Looking for how to say a car in the French language? Wondering if it's a masculine or feminine word? What are the means of transport in French? With which preposition to use with them? Shoud it be à or en ?

Whichever is your preoccupation, you will find an answer to your question here.

In this lesson, you are going to learn the different types of transports in French, the means of transportation and also the prepositions to use with them. By the end, you will be very familiar with the vocabulary of transports and will be able to use words like car, airplane, or train in French. 

Keep on reading till the end to take the test at the end of the lesson.

What are the different types of transportation in French?

Transportation is an important subject in the French language. It is useful for you when talking about ways of traveling, asking a friend how he goes to work or even shipment details for goods.

Before speaking about the types of transportation, it is important to define the words transport and transports.

The word transport which is masculine refers to the fact of moving something or people from a place to another.

The word transports refers to all the means of transport.

In general, there are 4 modes of transport depending on the route taken. Here are the names of the transportation with their English translation.

le transport routier : by road/land

le transport maritime:  by sea

le transport ferroviaire : by train

le transport aérien : by air.

There is also a difference between les transports privés (private transports)   for personal use, and les transports publics / les transports en commun for groups.

2. What are common names of means of transport in French?

Here is the list of common means of transport in French that you certainly use everyday. Words starting with  "la" like la voiture are feminine and those with  le are maxculine. For those with l' the indication (m) stands for masculine.

la voiture : car

le train : train

le métro : subway

le tram: tramway

l'autobus (m)/le bus : bus

le car:  bus

le taxi : taxi

l'avion : airplane

l'hélicoptère (m) : helicopter

le bateau: boat

le vélo/la bicyclette : bicycle

la moto: motorcycle

le tracteur : tractor

le camion : truck

la caravane : camping car

Be aware that the English word  car is translated as voiture in French while the French word "car" refers to a bus used for traveling between cities.

3. French verbs related to transportation

In general, transportation vocabulary can be used with verbs like prendre (to take), voyager (to travel), conduire (to drive) and verbs of  movement like those listed  below :

aller : to go

venir: to come

entrer  to enter,

sortir: to go out

monter: to get in, 

descendre: to go down, to alight, to get off

arriver: to arrive

partir: to leave

Here are examples of sentences using some of the verbs with their English translation. 

Je monte dans le bus => I get on the bus

Je descends du train => I get off the train

Je vais au travail en bus. => I go to work by train

Je conduis pour aller au travail. => I drive to work.

Je sors en voiture. => I go out by car

J'arrive en train. => I arrive by train.

Je prends le bus. => I take the bus.

With the verb descendre, remember to use the preposition DE+ a definite article. + a noun. Depending on the gender of that noun, you should use du, de la, de l' or Des. If you are not sure how to use them, then check out the lesson on how to use French articles .

Descendre de la voiture

Descendre de l' avion.

Descendre du train

With the verb monter, in general, the prepositions used are  dans or sur.

For example : 

Je monte sur ma moto. => I get on my motorcycle.

Je monte dans ma voiture. => I get in my car.

With the verb prendre, use an article or a determiner .

Example : Je prends le bus pour aller en ville. => Iam taking the bus to go in the city.

Means of transport and the prepositions en and à

When talking about the way you are traveling somewhere you use in French the prepositions en or à.   For instance,  If you want to say

I go to work by bus, you should say Je vais au travail e n bus.

I go to work by subway, You should say je vais au travail en métro.

I go to work on foot => Je vais au travail à pied.

Now how do you know when to use en or à?

In general, the preposition en is used for means of transport we can enter in, like le bus, la voiture, le taxi, le camion, le bateau,...

The preposition à is used for those transports we cannot enter in like le vélo, la moto, le cheval. In general, we get on them.

For example

Je vais au défilé à cheval . => I am going to the parade on a horse.

Je vais au théâtre à pied. => I go to the theater on foot.

Je vais à l école en bus. => I go to school by bus.

However, the rule relative to the use of à is not always strictly applied as you can see some people using en instead.

For instance, "  Je me déplace à vélo versus Je me déplace en vélo.  Both would be accepted but the preference would be to the first one.

Another remark! Some means of transportation in which we can't enter in are only used with the preposition en . For example se déplacer en luge , en traineau ...

Means of transport and prepositions.jpg

Practice your knowledge about French means of transports

Practice makes perfect. To help you check your knowledge of the French means of transports as well as the appropriate preposition, we have designed the Quiz below. Take it to see how well you know much you understood this lesson, and make sure you have at least 6/8.

If you want to develop your French vocabulary and listening skills in a fun way,  Lingopie might work well for you. I love the way, you can be learning by simply watching your favorite movies and TV shows. What I like the most is the possibility to read the script in my target language and click on the words I don't know and learn them. I use it for English and this helps me improve my vocabulary and listening skills, especially with the flashcards features that I can use to review the new words. If you're interested, you can take the 7-day free trial. I am sure you would like it too. And if you are lucky that their  promo is still on, you might get  up to 70% off.

Another way to develop your language skills is  Lingoda,  if you are looking for online group classes or pri vate classes. Their classes are affordable (10 to 12 euros per one hour group class), well structured according to CEFR guidelines, with a communicative approach that gets you quickly comfortable speaking. You can join their next challenge, the Lingoda Sprint. If you commit to taking 15 or 30 classes per month for 2 months, without missing any class, you get 50% cashback or more. 

This is a great way to accelerate your learning with intensive classes. However, this is not for everyone. If you can't commit daily, it might be better to join their regular classes that you can try 7 days for free here .

Related lessons

French verb prendre

French verb aller

Quiz: French Airport Terms

Do you know how to get around a French airport?

  • Pronunciation & Conversation
  • Resources For Teachers
  • immigration
  • baggage claim

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  baggage claim . 

  • female pilot
  • plane ticket

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is shuttle.

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  flight.   

  • checked luggage
  • flight plans
  • carry-on bags

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is checked luggage. 

  • to have a layover
  • to take off

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is to board.    

  • children traveling alone
  • stylish passengers
  • first class
  • pre-flight instructions

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  first class. 

  • pre-flight checklist
  • security check

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  security check. 

  • early arrivals

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  departures.   

  • décoller
  • contrôle de sécurité
  • l'immigration

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  en retard .   

  • luggage cart
  • boarding pass
  • terminal map

travel french quizlet

The correct answer is  boarding pass . 

I got Ooh lá lá!. Quiz: French Airport Terms

Looks like you need to study more before you take off!  Use our list of French airport terms  to study and try this quiz again. 

I got Pas mal.. Quiz: French Airport Terms

Not bad. You're almost ready to start packing, but you might want to revisit our  l ist of French airport terms​  refresh your memory. Then, get ready for the train station ! 

I got Trés Bien!. Quiz: French Airport Terms

  Great job! You're ready for take off. Ready for more French travel vocabulary? Check out our list of train terms . 

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The Intrepid Guide

60+ French Phrases for Travel You Need to Know 📚FREE Printable Cheat-Sheet

Essential French Phrases for Travel and Printable Guide

Order your petit-déjeuner (breakfast) or buy your billets (tickets) to the Louvre all in French! Here are the most useful French phrases for travel you need to know.

Learning some French will offer you further insight into the French culture, mentality, and way of life. The ability to speak even un peu français (a little bit of French) and avoid making these French faux pas will enhance your travel experience and open the doors to unique connections with the locals.

France is the world’s top tourist destination, attracting more than 79,5 million visitors a year! That’s why French is the next language in my travel phrase guide series. Not only that, but speaking French also comes in handy when travelling to Africa, Switzerland, Canada , Monaco, French Polynesia, the Seychelles amongst other places.

Why else should you learn French? Well, it makes learning other languages, especially Romance languages like Spanish , Italian , Portuguese and Romanian much easier. 

Don't let the learning stop here. Download your free PDF guide with  60+ French travel phrases . Includes English and French translations with pronunciation guide.  Apprenons ensemble! (Let's learn together!)

Top French Phrases for Travel - Louvre Museum

Travelling to France? Don’t be treated like a tourist! Live your best travel experiences and learn France for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant or a taxi driver who has “taken you for a ride”.  In addition to my free French travel phrase guide , I’ve made it even easier for you to master the French language so you can create lifelong memories as you mingle with locals , get local tips , avoid tourist traps , and make new friends . Join my popular French course here.

Let’s take a quick look at the French language so you’re a bit more clued up on its origin, use, and vocabulary. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed bringing it together. If you have any requests for other languages, let me know in the comments section!

Where is French spoken?

Top French Phrases for Travel - Arc de Triomphe at sunset

French is the third most spoken language in Europe, after German and English and has official-language status in 29 countries, including: Belgium , Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada , Chad, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France , Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland , Togo and Vanuatu. French is even one of six official languages of the United Nations.

It seems like nearly everyone wants to learn French, it’s the only language, alongside English, that is taught in every country in the world!

And the best way to learn it? Well, France operates the biggest international network of cultural institutes, which run French-language courses close to a million learners. My two favourite ways to learn French is by attending language classes – so I’m not only held accountable but also for the social aspect –  and going on language holiday too!

A Brief History of the French Language

Top French Phrases for Travel - Pont Alexandre III

The French and English languages have a pretty mixed-up history. Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, Norman French was adopted as the language of power on the British Isles.

For the next 400 years, French was the language of the nobility and of most official documents. King Henry V put a stop to that when he went to war with France, but because the two languages existed in parallel for so long, the English language is peppered with words of French origin, many of which can be traced back to French roots. This means that you actually already know a lot of French, even if you don’t think you do.

Now for the tricky stuff!

French Pronunciation Tips

Top French Phrases for Travel - Montparnasse Tower at sunset

There is a total of 26 letters in the French alphabet. Standard French contains 13 oral vowels and up to 4 nasal vowels, but there are 5 additional accented letters that can be applied to change the sound of a letter.

Here are some helpful pronunciation tips:

Using Liaisons

One of the fundamental rules of pronouncing French (and many other Latin-based languages) is that everything has to flow. That’s one of the reasons why French sounds so beautiful.

If you’re speaking French correctly, everything should sound like a continuous melody.

That’s where liaisons come in.

Liaisons are a phonetic link between two words that may sound awkward if left unconnected.

Let’s take a look at some examples where they are used  when speaking:

  • After pronouns e.g. vous avez sounds like vooz-ah-vey not  voo ah-vey
  • Numbers and nouns e.g. deux amis sounds like derz-ah-mee not der ah-me
  • One syllable prepositions e.g chez eux sounds like shez-uur not sheh uur

And liaisons that are forbidden when speaking:

  • When using full names e.g.
  • After et (and)

Liaisons may seem complicated at first, but they will become easier the more you listen to spoken French. After a while, you’ll automatically be able to notice where a liaison is needed (and where it isn’t) and how to make it sound natural when speaking.

What Not to Pronounce in French

Much like English, the French language isn’t written phonetically. The same sound can be represented by several different combinations of letters, and there are many cases of silent French letters. Two of the most well known are the silent “e” and the silent “h.”

The Silent “e”

The letter “e” is often silent in French, especially at the end of a word. Here are some examples:

Rue (road/street) is pronounced  roo not roo-ee and inacceptable (unacceptable) is pronounced an-ah-sep-tah-bil not an-ah-sep-tah-ble

Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to masculine and feminine adjectives and nouns.

In the case of feminine adjectives and nouns, this typically means that the final consonant of the masculine form will now be pronounced. So, the masculine ouvert , meaning open in the masculine form and pronounced oo-ver , will become ouverte  in the feminine form and pronounced oo-vert . The ‘ e ’ makes the final letter sounded.

The Final Consonant

As you’ve probably already noticed, there are a tonne of French letters that simply aren’t pronounced at the end of words. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!

In French, silent letters, or lettres muettes , have rules and exceptions just like many other linguistic concepts.

In general, the final consonants of a word are usually silent in French except in some cases of the letters c, f, l or r .

Just remember this simple rule, the consonants in the word ‘ careful ’ are always pronounced.

For example,

Avec (with) is pronounced  ah-ve k

Cinq (five) is pronounced saan k

Hiver (winter) is pronounced ee-ve r

The general rule regarding French word endings is that when in doubt, you probably don’t pronounce it. But, French is full of exceptions!

The Infamous “r”

For many English speakers, the French “r” can be a source of frustration. To pronounce it, you’ll need to use your throat and imagine you’re trying to gargle. The French “r” is pronounced in the same place as the English “k”, but with your throat closed.

The Silent “h”

As you’ve probably noticed from every French speaker’s failed attempt to say the word “hamburger” in English, the “h” in French is a silent letter no matter where it’s located in a word.

The only exception to this is when the preceding letter is “c,” in which case the “ch” combination makes a “sh” sound or “k” sound.

Here are a few examples of the silent “h”:

Le haricot vert (French bean) is pronounced leh ah-ree-coh ver

Huit (eight) is pronounced weet

Hiver (winter) is pronounced ee-ver

Top French Phrases for Travel - Cruise down the Seine River

Admittedly there are a few finicky grammar rules to learn, but generally speaking, English grammar corresponds relatively closely to French grammar.

Consider words in English that end with – ible  and -able , these are the same in French, only the pronunciation changes. So, the French word ‘possible’ sounds like poss-ee-bleh and ‘comfortable’ becomes kom-for-tah-bleh .

Then we have English words ending in -ent and -ant which also come from French and have the same spelling and the same meaning. So, the word, différent sounds like diff-er-ohnt  and important  sounds like ahm-poor-tahnt . The ‘t’ at the end is just slightly sounded.

Had enough? Ok, one more! Words in English ending in -ary l ike contrary become -aire in French. So, ‘contrary’ becomes contraire  and sounds like kon-trair . There are so many rules like this, so you can see just how easy learning French can be.

Here are top 10 French phrases for travel you SHOULD Know

Top french phrases for travellers.

Top French Phrases for Travel Downloadable Guide with Pronunciation Tips

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Greetings Essentials Questions Eating Out Getting Around Numbers Days Emergencies

**There are a few places that use unique words for the numbers 70 ( septante ) and 90 ( nonante ), such as Belgium and Switzerland. With the numbers 80 to 89, combine the number 4, the number 20, and the ones.

For example, in French 80 is four 20s, 81 is four 20s plus 1, and so forth. (Unlike most French-speaking countries, Switzerland actually has a word for the number 80. It’s huitante .)

Want more? Learn French with me, with Intrepid French!

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Have a laugh with these funny French expressions

Like it? Pin or download this French travel phrase guide

Top French Phrases for Travel Downloadable Guide with Pronunciation Tips

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Essential French Phrases for Travel and Printable Guide

Learning French? Check out these French language guides

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  • 22 Most Common French Grammar Mistakes [& How to Avoid Them]

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!

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Over to you!

Which of these French phrases are the most useful? What other languages would you like a travel phrase guide for? Have you been to a French-speaking country? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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travel french quizlet

Michele creates language learning guides and courses for travel. What separates her from other instructors is her ability to explain complex grammar in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner using her unique 80/20 method. Get her free guide 9 reasons you’re not fluent…YET & how to fix it! Planning a trip? Learn the local language with her 80/20 method for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant Start learning today!

Blond or Blonde: Why Does Grammatical Gender in English Still Exist?

How to sound more french: top 10 french phrases you should use.

travel french quizlet

This is great. I took years of French when in school, 40-years ago and now want to re-learn and be able to get by when traveling. Merci

travel french quizlet

Hi! (Sorry for the Failures, I don’t speak english very well because I am french) My Name is Salomé and I am from France. I felt random on your Website and I watched you tables and the picture called ” French travel Cheat sheet “. What you’re doing is awesome because you help people open us to the World. I am proud of what you do. I want to help because I am a native speaker of French not of all the French (Canada, Belgium..) but from France. Salomé

travel french quizlet

Hey Michele, love the article, love the guide. I think there are some mistakes on the French spelling and pronuciation for the word Right.

Right =droite drrrwa (with the funny r for the French). Apart from that, what a precious website!! Well done!

Hi Monique, thank you for correcting this typo, I’ve just fixed it now :)

travel french quizlet

Hey Michele

This is so cool. Thanks for sharing it. I was I Paris about a month ago and these would have come in very handy. Keep up the good work.

Merci Au revour

Thanks Basil, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I hope you’ll find it useful for future travels in Francophone countries :)

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travel french quizlet

If you don't know where you are , how do you know where you're going?   Find out how well you know Italian grammar today!

What is Ferragosto in Italy - Italians go to the beach

Real French for Travelers

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Real French for Travelers Complete Online Course gives you that freedom. Learn from someone who’s been in your shoes, not from a corporation. It’s easier than you think, especially with short, clear videos that’ll show you exactly how to say things and what it all means.

Choose among three options: the complete course, just the Foundations (Part 1) , or Situational French for Travelers (Part 2) to go deeper. 

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(it’s easier than you think.).

You won’t have to ask, “Do you speak English?” anymore, and won’t that feel good? (You’ll love it. And feel proud of yourself.)

You’ll do things differently than your fellow tourists because you’re making the effort to learn like an insider. You don’t need to be fluent to do this. You can learn a basic French framework then build as you go. Step-by-step.

What’s even better than a phrasebook?

Real French, that’s what.

Get the complete course or just the first (or second ) half.

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It’s the closest you can come to learning French in Paris.

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With real French, you KNOW what you’re saying, and others do, too. You can BUILD on what you learn because it’s real French. Real grammar. Real vocabulary.

Real. Isn’t that better? Especially when it comes to communicating with other people.

Read road signs and menus, ask for directions, ask for help if you’re lost or have a problem, or even strike up a simple conversation with a French person. (By the way, they love it if you make the effort to learn their language. You’d feel the same way.)

Real French for Travelers: The complete online course. Or the basics. Or Part 2, if you’ve had some French. Whichever you choose, it’s yours to keep. Review, practice, and master (all for the price of about 4 lessons with a private tutor) in as little as 8 weeks. 

Unlike other French programs, it’s designed specifically for travelers.

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Includes:  , clear, concise videos from zero to past tense. (42 in all), travel-oriented vocabulary covering a variety of situations, dialogues of realistic travel situations, downloadable reference (cheat) sheets, exercises for mastery with answer key, helpful travel tips throughout the course, quick-start phrases after each section give you a head-start in communicating, exercises to help you in listening comprehension, comprehensive pdf workbook that accompanies the videos, full 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the course.

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Why we should all be more French about cruising

T he century-old plane trees scattered across St Tropez’s famous Place des Lices added a welcome splash of green to this square, their dappled shade tracing an intricate patchwork of shadows across the dusty ground.

My focus, however, was firmly elsewhere. I was concentrating hard as I curled my fingers around a plum-sized metal ball, flicking my wrist to send it soaring up into the air. Around me, groups of locals were earnestly doing the same – though with considerably more panache. 

But then, in this corner of France, the game of pétanque is not so much a pastime as it is a way of life .

Sampling such a Provençal tradition seemed a natural fit during a voyage along this stretch of the Côte d’Azur with upscale French cruise line Ponant. I’d stepped aboard its three-masted schooner Le Ponant just a couple of days earlier, its graceful profile marking it out among the brasher mega-yachts lined up in Nice’s pretty harbour. 

Upon setting off on a voyage that hugged the beautiful rugged stretch of coastline towards the pretty former fishing village of Cassis, our captain gave the order to cut the engines and unfurl the sails which crept up the masts to catch the strong sea breeze.

This was sailing at its authentic best – yet life on Le Ponant came with something more: a distinctive French flavour. A certain je ne sais quoi, if you will.

For you see, French cruise lines – and, indeed, French cruise passengers – have made an art form of holidaying at sea. For the French, a cruise is a thoroughly refined experience, peppered with sophisticated service, chic understated ensembles and varied intellectual pursuits. 

And though Ponant’s 14-strong fleet of small ships and yachts attracts an increasingly international crowd (Americans account for around 25 per cent; 50 per cent hail from Europe, with the French-speaking market making up around a third of that), it remains an excellent example of this chic seafaring pedigree.  

Built in 1991, Le Ponant was the first member of Ponant’s fleet, and is the oldest vessel in the company line-up – not that you’d know it. Like the archetypal well-preserved Parisienne, this grand-mère of the waves is pristine (though, like many of them, she’s had a helping hand – a comprehensive bow-to-stern refurbishment completed in 2022). 

On board you’ll find immaculate teak decking, and elegant interiors from the hand of French designers Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel in muted shades, with bleached woods, leather and sophisticated, modish artworks carefully placed throughout. The majority of the crew is French, and sailings are completely bilingual. Le Ponant is so refined, in fact, that in 2023 it became the first sailing yacht to join the ranks of Relais & Châteaux.

The revamp reduced the number of staterooms to 16, and thus the number of guests to just 32 – meaning that sailings now feel more like exclusive floating house parties than commercial cruises. No surprise that the yacht is often privately chartered by wealthier guests looking for a plush family holiday base.

That feeling of cosy camaraderie shone through repeatedly during my recent sailing – most notably as we cheered on those who opted to plunge off the yacht’s marina deck, slicing through the chilly early-summer Mediterranean waters of Le Ponant’s floating pool. Meanwhile, others paddled off on kayaks and paddleboards, or took advantage of the yacht’s snorkel and scuba-diving equipment.

Like any self-respecting French establishment, there is also a strong emphasis on gastronomy. Naturally, fine wines play their part – and are largely included in the price, though oenophiles wanting a more exclusive experience can choose from a wine list where all but two varieties were from France, led by five types of champagne (though the most expensive tipple was floral Bordeaux, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion at a whopping €835 – or £710 – a bottle).

And the food? The French cruise passenger does not concern themselves with le buffet – and as Ponant’s chefs train at the culinary school founded by Michelin-star garnering chef Alain Ducasse, they needn’t worry. 

That said, those who prefer not to navigate the occasionally choppy waters of experimental French cuisine (the “Tunisian egg brick”, for example, which turned out to be a filo pastry square with herbs and egg, or the “exotic fruit salad”, which appeared to be just diced melon) may find themselves grateful for the comforts of afternoon crêpes suzette freshly prepared on deck, and the rainbow-hued assortment of macarons that greeted us when we returned from trips ashore.

Each evening we gathered on the sun deck, bathed in the golden glow of evening light for pre-dinner drinks, indulging in cocktails and champagne and, on one occasion, sampling delicious slices of Iberian ham freshly carved.

In St Tropez, we finished a walking tour in the most indulgent of ways: with chilled glasses of French rosé and a plate overflowing with fromage, served amid the fragrant blooms of the town’s flower market in the morning sunshine.

Earlier, we’d followed Le Ponant’s chef deep into the old town for the fish market – the Passage de la Poissonnerie – where, as a reminder of St Tropez’s rustic origins, fishermen still come to sell their catch each morning under the old porticoes. 

As our sailing neared its end, I snuck off to the pocket-size spa – run in partnership with Paris-based skincare professionals Biologique Recherche – in search of a massage. Though the price of my hour-long treatment (£125) was typical of most cruise spas, I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was no expectation of a tip, nor a pushy product sales pitch. Silly perhaps, but of the many advantages to cruising à la française, this was one of the most unexpected – and the most welcome.

Sara Macefield was a guest of Ponant (020 7660 4089;, which this summer offers sailings on Le Ponant in Croatia between August and October, with a one-week round-trip voyage from Dubrovnik with stops including Korcula, Hvar, Vis and Brac. From £8,280pp for an August 18 departure, all-inclusive. Flights extra.

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You experience a different kind of travel with upscale French cruise line Ponant

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Strasbourg for Book Lovers

Bibliophiles will find plenty of centuries-old tomes, graphic novels, modern works and more in this French city, which also happens to be this year’s UNESCO World Book Capital.

A quiet street is lined with colorful, half-timbered buildings. A bicyclist goes by, and in front of one building, people sit at a table, while another customer approaches with a tray.

By Seth Sherwood

Attention, bibliophiles: Put Strasbourg, the largest city in eastern France, on your radar. Once home to the godfather of publishing — the 15th-century printing-press pioneer Johannes Gutenberg — the city is the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2024. Through next April, more than 200 events and activities will take place in and around Strasbourg, a polyglot city on the German border whose half-timbered gingerbread houses, gabled roofs, picturesque canals and church spires seem to have sprung from a storybook of their own.

Among the events are exhibitions devoted to Gustave Doré — a Strasbourg native and perhaps the 19th-century’s most celebrated illustrator of literary works — and Julie Doucet , a groundbreaking Quebec graphic novelist and visual artist. The annual Fête des Imprimeurs on June 29 and 30 in Place Gutenberg will showcase all of the trades involved in bookmaking, including through interactive workshops.

But the UNESCO events aren’t the only reasons to visit. Strasbourg has many spots for the literary-minded that are permanent fixtures, from comic shops and indie book emporiums to historical libraries and antiquarian specialists . Here are six favorites.

Place Gutenberg: The story begins

A native of Mainz, Germany (about 100 miles away), Gutenberg lived in Strasbourg in the 1430s and 1440s, developing the initial plans for his revolutionary moveable-type printing press, which would come to fruition in Mainz in the 1450s.

To honor him, Strasbourg in 1840 erected a statue in a square near the city’s red sandstone cathedral, whose Gothic design another German visitor, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, famously rhapsodized about. (The future literary star studied in Strasbourg in the early 1770s, living nearby at 36 rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons.)

The stone statue shows Gutenberg, bearded and solemn, holding a page bearing the French words “Et la lumière fut”—“And there was light” — a reference both to his famous Bibles and to the enlightenment of humankind made possible by the spread of printed matter.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, some of the fruits of Gutenberg’s invention — used books and historical prints — go on sale nearby during the open-air book market along rue des Hallebardes, just across the street.

Fairy tales and fountain pens

The smells of leather, parchment and dust suffuse La Jument Verte , an antiquarian book shop along rue des Juifs, one of the streets near the cathedral where some of Europe’s earliest print shops once operated.

Sun-filled and cheerful, the store has extensive holdings in French-language works of history, science and medicine, including an 1863 Paris travel guide (€80, or about $87) and an 1870 surgical primer (€200). Literary works are another specialty. If you don’t have €50,000 for the first six volumes of the original 1668 edition of La Fontaine’s fables, a pillar of French literature, a six-volume set of “The Divine Comedy,” with illustrations by Salvador Dalí, costs a mere €5,800.

If you feel inspired to do some sketching or scrawling afterward, the city’s most elegant stationery store is steps away: Monogram . Don’t miss the display cases filled with handcrafted Namiki-brand fountain pens from Japan. Each is an individual artwork embellished with gold dust and lacquer (€1,580 to €2,850). Less extravagant items also abound, including rustic leather-bound notebooks by Lamali (65 euros) and scads of greeting cards, wrapping paper and bookmarks.

Surrealism, satire and more

An extensive collection of historical works can be perused — for free — in the soaring, airy library of the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art , a repository of about 140,000 books, magazines, museum catalogs and other materials.

Want to flip through the original proclamations of the Dadaist movement? Just ask. Published in 1918 in the Zurich-based group’s Dada magazine, the poet Tristan Tzara’s so-called Dada Manifesto (written in French) still amazes with its absurdist tone, nonsensical language, inventive syntax and gleeful vulgarity as it mocks literature, art, language and authority.

The periodicals archive includes famous titles related to Surrealism (Minotaure), German art (Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration), French satire (Le Charivari) and photography (Nouvelle Vision). A maze of shelves packed with mostly French books on a gamut of subjects — from art history and architecture to ceramics and graphic design — rounds out the offerings.

If you’re looking for something to take home, the museum bookshop down the hall contains a smattering of English-language gems, from “Dan Graham’s New Jersey” (€45) to “Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists” (€50).

A stream of words

The award for homiest bookshop goes to L’Oiseau Rare (the Rare Bird), a small, cozy hangout in a half-timbered yellow house from the 1600s. It’s one of a trio of bookstores along Quai des Bateliers, a lovely, tree-lined canalside walkway that could easily be renamed Readers’ Row.

Outfitted with a three-table cafe and hung with paintings by a co-owner, Diane Albisser — whose scenes of dance halls and boxing rings take inspiration from African American history — the shop specializes in French literary works and socially activist nonfiction, particularly on feminism, race and the environment. You can walk in for a café au lait (€3.80) and stroll out with novels by Françoise Sagan, a dual-language edition of Maya Angelou’s poetry, and tracts by Mary Shelley translated into the language of Molière.

Down the quay, in another half-timbered house, Le Tigre bursts with French-language comics, manga, graphic novels and other illustrated works. Wordless treats also abound, from pop-culture figurines (the Notorious B.I.G., Grandpa Munster; €25) to vintage vinyl albums (€15 to €20) by David Bowie, Bud Powell and other heavyweights of rock and jazz.

Things suddenly get dark inside La Tache Noire (The Black Stain), a shrine for worshipers of crime novels from China, India, Iceland, Mexico, Belgium, France and other far-flung nations. Nearly everything is in French, though a section of American and British Hall-of-Famers, from Raymond Chandler to James Ellroy, caters to Anglophones.

Central Vapeur: Postcards from the fringe

The location of Central Vapeur , an arts organization devoted to alternative illustration, graphics and comics, is apt. Occupying a warehouse in a semi-blighted industrial zone, the group’s headquarters sits on the geographical edge of Strasbourg, and its tiny bookstore is similarly filled with visions and voices from the fringe.

Within, a pipe-smoking cartoon elephant in striped trousers looks on from a tote bag (€8). A pink-eyed skull covered with birthday candles peers from a tiny round lapel button (€1.50). Donald Trump, biting into a drippy scoop of ice cream resembling Earth, grimaces at the world from a wall poster (€40). Offbeat drawings, postcards and prints also decorate the shop.

In addition to graphic novels from local authors, the store’s offerings include dual-language French-English design magazines like Cercle (published in Strasbourg; €22) and Back Office (a periodical based in Paris; €20).

And if you’re up for a festival, the organization hosts Format(s) , which celebrates French and international graphic design.

Place Kléber: A multilingual mecca

Even if Strasbourg’s grandest, liveliest square didn’t have a thrice-weekly vintage book market (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), an emporium of Japanese comics ( Le Camphrier ), or a megastore of French-language books ( Librarie Kléber ), it would still be an obligatory stop thanks to the globe-spinning Librarie du Monde Entier . Poetic translation: The Whole Earth Bookstore.

Desperate to find a guide to conversation in Basque? Look no further. A Danish edition of “The Handmaid’s Tale”? Ditto. Urdu dictionaries, contemporary Turkish novels, Russian storybooks for kids — all in their original language? They’re all here. Dual-language books also abound, from Italian-English versions of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” to French-English editions of the experimental French classic “Zazie dans le Métro.”

The most robust offerings are in English-language fiction, history, biography and current affairs. You might even find a remaindered edition (€6) of “84, Charing Cross Road,” Helene Hanff’s charming collection of letters about the book trade. As she writes, “Buying a book you’ve never read is like buying a dress you’ve never tried on.” So always take the time to browse.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

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Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Port Antonio, Jamaica:  The Grammy-nominated D.J. and music producer Diplo recommends spots in a city he loves  on Jamaica’s northeast coast. A dance party makes the cut.

New Mexico:  The Gila Wilderness, home to wolves, mountain lions and other wildlife, marks a century as a “land lab,”  where nature thrives as far as the eye can see.

Greece:  Is Serifos the perfect Greek island? A writer’s checklist included ferry service, great beaches and good local restaurants.

Brooklyn:  This 36-hour itinerary  skips the most touristy and overdeveloped areas, including Williamsburg and Dumbo, and requires no restaurant reservations or advance planning.

Costa Rica:  Travelers are signing up for phone-free tours to try to escape technology’s tether on daily life. But would it make for a better experience ?

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Erin French Leaves the Lost Kitchen During the Off Season to Travel in an Airstream for New Show (Exclusive)

The Magnolia Network star is known for her notoriously hard-to-book restaurant in Maine called The Lost Kitchen

travel french quizlet

Erin French is setting her sights on new inspiration. 

The restaurateur — known for her notoriously hard-to-book restaurant in Maine, The Lost Kitchen — has a new show on Magnolia Network, Getting Lost with Erin French. PEOPLE can exclusively reveal the trailer above, which shows French traveling the country with her husband Michael Dutton. 

“It’s winter in Maine, that perfect opportunity to hibernate for a bit and start to really think about the season ahead,” French says at the start of the clip. “But this year, I’m not waiting for inspiration. I’m going to go out and I’m going to find it.”

The Lost Kitchen closes for the winter and begins picking postcards (the only way to get a reservation !) for the season in April of every year. So throughout the eight-episode series, the couple travel around in their new Airstream.

“This has been a dream of both mine and Michael’s for a long time,” she says over a scene of the two exploring a beach and then a cactus-filled dessert. 

Standing in front of a waterfall, French appears genuinely in awe of the journey she’s embarking on. “I mean look at this!” she shouts.

Courtesy of Magnolia Network

“I never went to culinary school. I never got to travel very much,” she says. “This is really going to be about a food adventure.” 

While there are silly instances — like when French and Dutton say, “Holy cow!” to literal cows on a farm — other scenes in the trailer feature moments of true inspiration. “I don’t know why I get teary about food, it’s so good,” she says as a chef she meets makes her a meal that “tastes like home.”

For the renowned chef, it’s hard to believe she still has any “firsts” to check off, but the show proves there’s still so much for anyone and everyone to explore. “First avocado I’ve ever picked,” French says as she stands under a canopy of green leaves.  

From California to Kentucky, Arizona and more, the Magnolia Network series sees French and Dutton stepping out of their East Coast hometown and into a world of food adventures.  

“My intention here is to just soak in as much as I can in this off season and come home and feel ready to roll,” she closes out the trailer.

The author has also starred in Magnolia Network’s The Lost Kitchen, which brought viewers into her restaurant in Freedom, Maine. 

Getting Lost with Erin French premieres Sunday, June 23 on Magnolia Network at 2 p.m ET with a new episode every Sunday. The episodes stream the same day on Max and discovery+.

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Travel | travel: here’s why the best way to see french polynesia is on a cruise ship.

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Experience should tell well-traveled warm-weather wanderlusters that when offered this greeting at a tropical resort, it’s best to take it with a grain of sea salt. Too many times has this heat-seeking holiday maker been burned, not by the sun’s rays, but that seemingly hospitable phrase.

At the five-star GoldenEye resort in Jamaica, for one, “paradise” had me waking up in a bedsheet speckled with blood despite having the protection, or not, of a mosquito net and generous layer of insect repellant. Las Brisas Acapulco is a luxury property affectionally called “The Pink and White Paradise,” but the only color I saw was red due to loud service carts whizzing past our room at all hours of the night. A drive-by shooting across the street was the cherry on top during a visit that was far from utopian.

If I had a nickel — or other small-value coin of foreign currency — for every time a tropical destination failed to live up to the paradisical hype, that would be a tidy sum and fodder for a tell-all travel book. But since life is short and we need more positivity in this topsy-turvy world, let’s not dwell on places where slices of heaven are inadvertently mixed with bits of hell. We should instead focus our travel binoculars on a corner of the world that rarely disappoints.

A couple from Mexico celebrates their fifth wedding anniversary on a motu. (Photo by David Dickstein)

We’re talking about French Polynesia in the center of the serene South Pacific. Made up of five archipelagoes and 118 islands, nearly half of them uninhabited, this pinch-me place is a popular setting for screensaver graphics and wall calendars. It literally is the model of what many of us picture as the quintessential tropical paradise.

Who doesn’t dream of cooling off with a fruity libation while lounging beside palm trees swaying in the breeze on a pristine white-sand beach? Here’s where that vision becomes reality, and the icing on the coconut cake are views of crystal-clear turquoise waters surrounded by lush, green mountains. Even sweeter, unlike many vacation destinations near the equator, French Polynesia gets the seal of approval — a Level 1 travel advisory — from the U.S. State Department for safety.

travel french quizlet

Air Tahiti Nui, American, Delta, French Bee, Hawaiian and United airlines all fly between Tahiti and Los Angeles or San Francisco, and it’s a minimum of eight hours in the air. Although not a short trip, or a cheap one with roundtrips costing north of a grand, the ROI is a French-accented dream vacation with a joie de vivre.

Blessed with unmatched beauty, unique culture, friendly people and an alluring sense of seclusion, French Polynesia is a favored nation for honeymooners, celebrants of milestone anniversaries and others with the urge to splurge somewhere sultry besides the likes of South Florida, Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Caribbean.

The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is famous for its overwater villas and majestic views. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Staying at a resort is how 80% of visitors do French Polynesia, per the country’s tourism authority ( ), and many go big with lodging at one of those luxurious overwater bungalows synonymous with the destination. The pinnacle of posh is arguably The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort ( ), where from inside your high-class hut you can watch sea life though glass-bottom flooring, and outside jump into an aquamarine lagoon off your private platform with a perfect view of iconic Mount Otemanu.

Making a full-service, five-star resort your base for an entire vacation sounds like paradise, and the majority of visitors would seem to agree. But know that if you ever want to explore other islands to get a different taste of Tahitian-French culture, that, mon amie, can be a hassle. Because flights and ferry service are limited to certain islands and days of the week, even the most resourceful hotel concierge may try to talk guests out of this well-intentioned, yet impractical idea.

The luxury, 332-passenger Paul Gauguin is specially built for Polynesian waters. (Photo by David Dickstein)

If catching “island fever” after spending a few days on one property is a possibility, then your best ticket to paradise could be a cruise. By ship is the easiest way to visit multiple islands in a sprawling destination that’s roughly the size of Europe. On a typical 7- to 10-day journey around the Society Islands, for example, ships make calls in Moorea, Taha’a, Raiatea, Huahine and, of course, Bora Bora, before returning to Tahiti. Paul Gauguin, Windstar and Silversea are offering the most roundtrips with this itinerary over the next year, give or take a port, and of special note are those that anchor overnight in Bora Bora.

One of the benefits of cruising is you go to many places and unpack only once. But when given the opportunity to abandon ship to spend a night in an overwater villa, fussing with luggage a second time is a pleasant inconvenience. On a recent weeklong “More Society Islands & Tahiti” voyage aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin, at least two guests skipped out on their spacious veranda stateroom with butler in exchange for an “Overwater Deluxe Villa” at the St. Regis, the only Forbes five-star resort in Bora Bora. That coveted category starts at $1,530 a night. By comparison, the InterContinental Tahiti and Hilton Tahiti were reporting midweek availability in July with rates starting at $330 and $370, respectively, but with markedly less wow factor.

Selling points of the St. Regis include snorkeling safely in the stunning Lagoonarium stocked with more than 120 species of fish, adults-only nooks and crannies, a heavenly spa, themed dining events nearly every night at one of the six restaurants and bars (the luau-like Polynesian Evening on Wednesdays is a high-energy hoot), and among the recreational offerings is an assigned bicycle for every guest.

The farewell party on Paul Gauguin is bittersweet for guests and crew. (Photo by David Dickstein)

The good life continues back on the Paul Gauguin ( ). With an excellent 1:1.5 crew-to-guest ratio, service on the Paul Gauguin is solid — quite possibly the most caring and friendly this sea-legged scribe has experienced. Several among the crew flaunted other talents at a delightfully entertaining crew show on the penultimate evening.

A Polynesian revue dazzles guests aboard the Paul Gauguin. (Photo by David Dickstein)

On other nights in the understatedly beautiful 314-seat Grand Salon, Polynesian culture is shared through song and dance by impressive local acts. Late-night entertainment is often a weak link on small ships, but not here; the Santa Rosa Band and pianist-singer Jerry Lomocso are two versatile acts out of the Philippines worthy of the extended contracts they just received.

Paul Gauguin passengers enjoy a day on a private motu. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Shipboard entertainment, a stern-side marina for watersports, and most organized activities are included in the cruise fare, which for a 7-day sail can be booked for as low as $5,000, double occupancy. What’s not included are treatments at the well-managed Algotherm Spa and shore excursions. That’s typical even for luxury-category cruising. Looking at a few tours, ATVing in Huahine costs $279 per machine (single or double), but the views along the route, road and off-road, are priceless; “Coral Garden Drift Snorkeling” ($120 in Raiatea, $125 in Taha’a) takes swimmers to one of the best spots in the world; and the “WaveRunner Adventure” in Moorea ($239 per machine, single or double) includes a pitstop at a motu for a thrilling ray encounter.

A cappuccino mousse dessert caps a lovely dinner at L'Etoile. (Photo by David Dickstein)

Adventures of the epicurean kind were mostly successful on the recent cruise; dishes starring steaks, shellfish, lamb and veggies were of the high caliber one would expect from French-based Ponant, which acquired the ship in 2019, and is known for outstanding cuisine. A tip of the chapeau to Cheese Night at L’Etoile restaurant, featuring a dazzling spread of 15 types of prized French fromage.

Like the food, pretty much everything about the Paul Gauguin goes down smoothly. Even the ship’s bones are specially designed for smooth navigation in Polynesian waters, and at the risk of causing a nerd alert, here’s why: A 17-foot draft allows the ship to get in close to shallow lagoons and isolated islands, maximizing stopover time.

As for parts of the ship we can actually see, recent refurbishments have the 27-year-old ship looking younger and more distinguished than when I sailed on it in 2018. If only the spa’s $210 “Deep Regenerating Sun Care” treatment could have done that for me.

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