Coming to France
The French language basics
- The Formalities
The French language survival kit
First we will say hello !
Bonjour ! Boh(n)zhoor
Perfect now let's try good
Bonsoir ! Boh(n)swahr
Good now thank you ,
Merci ! Mehrsee
You may need this one ;-) Do you speak English ?,
Parlez vous Anglais ? Pahr-lay
voo ah(n)gleh ?
Thanks a lot,
Merci beaucoup ! Mehrsee bohkoo
Let's go to the restaurant and say before starting the meal ...
Bon appetit ! Boh(n) apaytee
S'il vous plait. Seel voo pleh
Great, let's ask for the bill at the restaurant,..
L'addition s'il vous plait !
Lahdeesyoh(n), seel voo pleh
Start with this when you want something, I would like...
Je voudrais... Zhuh voodreh...
I would like a metro ticket, please
Je voudrais un ticket de métro,
s'il vous plait.
Zhuh voodreh zuh(n) teekay duh maytroh, seel voo pleh
Ok, now, please how much is this ?
Quel est le prix, s'il vous plait
? Kehl eh luh pree, seel voo pleh?
No, thanks, it's too expensive...
Non, merci c'est trop cher !
Noh(n)mehrsee, seh troh shehr
Now you can say that you are speaking a little bit French
Je parle un peu le français.
Zhuh pahrl uh(n) puh luh
But not completely if you don't know how to ask for the bathroom location
Où sont les toilettes, s'il vous
Oo soh(n) lay twahleht, seel voo pleh?
A droite Ah drwaht
A gauche Ah gohsh
Tout droit Too drwah
Derrière vous Dehryehr voo
What about numbers ?
1, uh(n) 2, duh 3, trwah 4, kahtr
5, sa(n)k 6, sees 7, seht 8, weet 9, nuhf 10
Something practical at any time, what time is it, please ?
Quelle heure est-il, s'il vous
Kehl uhr ehteel, seel voo pleh?
Do you have any message for me ?
Avez-vous des messages pour moi ?
Ahvay voo day mayhssahzhe poor mwah?
Is the service included ? Remember, service is always included in France.
Est-ce que le service est compris
Ehskuh luh sehrvees eh koh(m)pree ?
Can you call a cab, please ?
Pouvez-vous appeler un taxi, s'il
vous plait ?
Pooveh-voo ahplay uh(n) tahksee, seel voo pleh?
Where is the nearest metro station ?
Où est la station de métro la
Oo eh lah stahsyoh(n) duh maytroh lah plew prohsh?
I would like two tickets, please !
Je voudrais deux tickets s'il
Zhuh voodreh duh teekay, seel voo pleh
Let's work on the "Classics" ! that's fantastic !
C'est magnifique ! Seh
that's life !
C'est la vie ! Seh lah vee!
I love you !
Je vous aime ! Zhuh voo aymuh! :
the "old" way, or just say "je t'aime" (zhuh taymuh)
he/she will understand! :-)
How are you doing ?
Comment allez vous ? Kohmah(n)
All citizens need a valid
passport and a visa to enter France. For stay shorter than three months, the only
exceptions are for the citizens of the United States of America, Japan, Canada, for the
citizens of the Europe'on Economic Community (EEC) countries, for the citizens of Andorra
Austria, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, Finland, the Holy See Hungary Iceland Liechtenstein,
Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as for the
citizens of the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, In any case, please check with the
nearest French Consulate.
When entering France, you
must declare goods that you carry with you and pay customs duty on them. The folloowings
are the exceptions:
Any personal belongings (including bicycles, sports equipment and accessories) that are
currently being used are allowed without formality - whether they are contained in your
luggage or not - and provided their nature and quantity do not imply any commercial aim.
These items cannot be sold or given away in France and must be re-exported.
Tax free allowances
The tax free concession is decided by the European Economic Community (EEC). No duty
applies to the following items:
* Articles made of gold or containing gold are subject tostandard custom formalities,
except personal jewellery importedby individuals, i.e. tourists. For arms and ammunition,
an import authorisation must beissued by Customs Headquarters after approval by the
The following are strictly prohibited: narcotics,copyright infringe ments, fakes and
counterfeits, weapons andammunition unless an import authorisation is produced.
The Green Disk
If you cross the border into France from Belgium, Germany,Luxembourg and the Netherlands
by car, you may proceed withoutstopping, provided you only carry law-abiding EEC
nationals,money and live animals which can be lawfully allowed into Francewithout special
permission. To benefit from this facility, please display visibly on your windscreen a
green disk of adiameter of at least 8 centimetres (3.2 inches), and driveslowly through
There are no formalities when you arrive in France as a touriststaying no longer than a
maximum period of six months. This alsoapplies to the import of:
a private car, a vehicle
for camping (trailer or caravanette)or a vehicle adapted to tow a caravan, a motorcycle of
acapacity above 50 cc or a plane.
bicycles, motorcycles or
mopeds with a capacity of less than50 cc in current use. All these means of transport
must bere-exported within the usual six month period.
Insurance : Under
French law, all land motor vehicles, as well as trailersor semi trailers, must be covered
by an insurance. However, theFrench customs no longer control car insurance for vehicles
registered in the following countries:
- EEC countries,
- Austria, Finland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden,Switzerland, Czechoslovakia.
Fuel : Fuel in the vehicle tank is exempt from tax. Up to 10 litres offuel will
also be allowed in a spare can.
* Arrival at a seaport: no particular formalities. However, youmust keep on board the
vessel's registration papers.
* Arrival at a riverport or land border: only the vessel'sregistration papers are required
for pleasure craft belonging toa tourist and for out board motors belonging to those
vessels. In both cases, if the vessel stays in France for a total of sixmonths in any
period of twelve months, it must be:
* either re-exported,
* or permanently imported (and duties and taxes paid).
Vessels must not be lent or hired to other people during theirstay in France.
Means of payment
Import and export of currency, travellers cheques, negotiable instruments, etc, are free
from restriction, provided that, whentheir value is equivalent to 50,000FF or more, they
are declaredat the French customs.These restrictions and requirements for declaration
include : notes, cheques, travellers cheques, letters of credit, bills of exchange, bearer
bonds, giro cheques, stocks and shares certificates, bullion, gold and silver coins quoted
on theofficial exchange.
Purchases in France
Goods may be purchased in France free of value-added tax (VAT) for export (see under
"Duty Free Sales"). Information on thismatter can be obtained from:
* the shops selling tax-free goods,
* the customs, who will supply you with the leaflet on tax-freepurchases. The sale in
France of precious metals, jewels, worksof art, collector's items and antiques is subject
to a 7% tax (7.5 % in the case of precious metals). You may be asked to pay this tax when
you leave France, unless you can prove with aninvoice that you purchased the goods from a
professional dealeror that the tax has been paid by the vendor.
For further details, please contact a customs information center:
Paris : Tel.: (1) 40.01.02.06
Lyon: Tel.: 78.42.01.76
Bordeaux: Tel.: 22.214.171.124. Extension 153.
Marseille : Tel.: 91.08.60.50.
Nantes: Tel.: 126.96.36.199.
Strasbourg: Tel.: 188.8.131.52. Extension 211.
Visitors to France may have the French value-added tax (VAT)deducted from goods bought in
the country. In France, VAT is called "TVA" (for "taxe a la valeur
ajoutee"). Its rate is currently 19,6%. Note that not all shops apply the duty-free
Who benefits from the duty-free
Any person (15 years old and over) who is resident abroad whenpurchasing the goods and
travelling through France for less thansix months. At the time of purchase you must be
able, as aforeigner, to prove your identity with a passport or legalidentity document.
These facilities do not apply to embassy staff and similar categories, students and
trainees andimmigrant workers (even if they return to their country oforigin permanently)
who are resident in France.
What goods can you buy duty-free?
Everything, except the following :
* Food stuffs, either solid or liquid.
* Fire arms (however, smooth bore shotguns and range rifles,firing guns and small hand
guns may be bought duty-free).
* Unset game.
* Works of art, collector's items and antiques. Nevertheless,you may buy tax-free
contemporary works of art in certain cases. Information is available from the
"Comite Professionnel desGaleries d'Art" : 5, rue Quentin-Bauchard, 75008 Paris
Tel.: (1)184.108.40.206 - (1) 220.127.116.11 - Fax.: (1) 18.104.22.168
* Private means of transport, cars, boats, planes and thecorresponding spares and
equipment. However, car-radios andcassette players, as well as sports articles such as
bicycles,sailing and surfing boards, may be bought duty-free.
* Purchases of a commercial nature (such as made in large amounts).
How can you claim duty-free
At the time of purchase, the sales-person will give you an"export sales invoice"
("bordereau" in French) made up of threepages, which you sign and have validated
in the following way : if you are a resident in the EEC:
Yellow invoice : 2 yellow pages, 1 green page.
When you reach your home border:
* Have the three pages validated by the customs or inland Revenue Services of your home
country which may charge taxes andduties.
* Mail back both yellow pages to : Bureau des Douanes de Paris-La-Chapelle, 61, rue de la
* Keep the green page in case of dispute.
If you are resident in any other country : Pink invoice : 2 pink pages, 1 green page. Upon
leaving French territory :
* Show your goods and the 3 pages to the French Exit Customs,together with the stamped
envelope provided by the shop. But ifyou leave the country by train, have your 3 pages
validated bythe Customs on board the train.
* French Customs will keep both pink pages and will give you thevalidated green page.
* Keep the green page in case of dispute.
Having checked, the French Customs will send a yellow or pinkpage to the shop which will,
according to your instructions(home address, private bank account number), refund you
theamount appearing on space B3 of the page. In certain cases,refund can be operated
directly at the time of purchase.However, this does not exempt you from the above
How much must you purchase to claim
The purchases, inclusive of tax, from any single store must atleast amount to :
If you are resident in the EEC (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy,
Luxembourg,Portugal, Spain, Irish Republic, Netherlands and United Kingdom):
4,200 FF per item either single or made up of different parts(cutlery suits, pendants,
table ware). If you are resident in any other country (Countries other than those in
the EEC and the following: the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Andorra, the territorial
community of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the Faroe Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and
Melilla): 2,000 FF, whatever the amount of items.
Dogs and Cats
* Animals under three months old are not allowed into France.
* Dogs and cats over three months old, travelling with a visitorto France, are allowed in
under certain restrictions:
- maximum number authorised: three animals of which one puppy atthe most (between three
and six months) are permitted.
- rabies vaccination certificate : delivered by a veterinarydoctor of the animal's country
of origin attesting that the animal was vaccinated one month ago or more, but less than
oneyear ago, or that the animal has been re-vaccinated within theyear.
- if, in the country, no case of rabies has been registered inthe past three years, the
certificate mentioned above can bereplaced by a certificate delivered by a veterinary
doctor from the country of origin, stating that:
- the animal is in good health ;
- no case of rabies has been registered in that country in, atleast, the past three years;
- the animal has remained in that country for the past sixmonths, or from its birth.
* For more than three cats or dogs, a prior officialauthorisation is necessary. Requests
must be addressed to:
Ministere de I'Agriculture et de la
Direction Generale de I'Alimentation Bureaux des Echanges Internationaux
175, rue du Chevaleret,75 Paris Cedex 13
Tel.:(1) 22.214.171.124 - Ext. 54 85.
There are no particular customs formalities for small quantitiesof food products brought
into France by tourists.
Example: 1 kgof honey, the same for flowers. However, temporary restrictionscan be
established by the French customs authorities. Beforedeparture, check with the nearest
The French language basics, formalities, Helpful recommandations