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French Vocabulary for Shopping

8 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of French Words and Phrases for Traveling

Develop a French shopping vocabulary to gain a new cultural experience when traveling. Whether you're shopping for clothes, food, or souvenirs, you can use the following phrases in any French-speaking country to help you find just the right thing.

The following phrases will be useful no matter what kind of shopping you plan on doing.

  • J’aime celui-là. (I like that one.)

  • Merci, je ne fais que regarder. (No thank you, I’m just looking.)

  • Il n’arrive pas à se décider à ce qu’il va acheter. (He can’t decide what to buy.)

  • Combien? (How much?)

  • Payons à la caisse. (Let’s pay at the cash register.)

In most French-speaking countries, it is customary to greet the store clerk with a polite Bonjour when entering a store. It's considered rude not to do so.

The following words can be used in a variety of shopping situations.

argent (ahr-zhahn) [m] (money)
caisse (kehs) [f] (the cash register)
carte de crédit (kahr-tuh duh cray-dee) [f] (credit card)
cher (shehr) (expensive)
grand (grahNd) (big; tall; large)
large (lahrzh) (large)
marchand (mahr-shan) [m] (vendor)
petit (puh-teet) (small; short)
porte-monnaie (pohrt-moh-neh) [m] (wallet)
sac (sahk) [m] (bag)

The first step to a successful shopping expedition is to know where to shop. In most French-speaking countries, there are open-air street markets (called marché) where you can buy anything from fruits and vegetables to antiques and collectibles. But if you need to go to a specific kind of store, the following terms can help.

boucherie (boo-shree) [f] (butcher shop)
boulangerie (boo-lahn-zhree) [f] (bakery)
épicerie (ay-pees-ree) [f] (grocery store; general store)
pâtisserie (pah-tees-ree) [f] (pastry shop)
supermarché (sew-pehr-mahr-shay) [m] (supermarket)

Shopping for food

In most French-speaking countries, people go grocery shopping every day to take advantage of the freshest produce and meats. Shopping for food can sound more exciting if you say:

  • Je dois faire les provisions. (I have to go grocery shopping.)

  • Il nous faut du lait, des oeufs, et du pain. (We need milk, eggs, and bread.)

Will these items be on your grocery list?

banane (ba-naN) [f] (banana)
boeuf (buhf) [m] (beef)
bière (byehr) [f] (beer)
eau (lo) [f] (water)
fromage (fro-mazh) [m] (cheese)
fruits (lay frwee) [m] (fruit)
glace (glahs) [f] (ice cream)
légumes (lay-gewm) [m] (vegetables)
pain (pan) [m] (bread)
poisson (pwa-sohn) [m] (fish)
pomme (pohm) [f] (apple)
pommes de terre (pohm duh tehr) [f] (potatoes)
porc (pohr) [m] (pork)
poulet (poo-leh) [m] (chicken)
tomate (to-maht) [f] (tomato)
viande (vyahnd) [f] (meat)
vin (van) [m] (wine)

Shopping for clothes

The French are known for their sense of style. So much so that many people travel to France just to shop for clothes. Clothing stores are generally called magasin (mah-gah-zan [m]) and department stores are called grand magasin (grahN mah-gah-zanN [m]).

Here are some phrases to help you shop for clothing in French-speaking countries.

  • Ces montres sont chères. (These watches are expensive.)

  • Je voudrais acheter ces chaussures. (I would like to purchase these shoes.)

  • Combien coûte cette chemise? (How much is this shirt?)

  • Je cherche une jupe rouge. (I’m looking for a red skirt.)

  • Est-ce que ce pantalon est en solde? (Are these pants on sale?)

  • Puis-je retourner cet article? (May I return this item?)

  • Puis-je payer comptant ou par carte de crédit? (Can I pay cash or credit?)

Put these items of clothing in your suitcase:

chapeau (shap-oh) [m] (hat)
chemise (ewn shuh-meez) [f] (shirt)
chemisier (shuh-mee-zyay) [m] (blouse)
costume de bains (kohs-tewm duh ban) [m] (bathing suit)
cravate (krah-vaht) [f] (tie)
imperméable (an-pehr-may-ahbl) [m] (raincoat)
jean (dzheen) [m] (jeans)
jupe (zhewp) [f] (skirt)
manteau (mahN-to) [m] (coat)
pantalon (pahN-tah-lohN) [m] (slacks)
pull (pewl) [m] (sweater)
robe (rohb) [f] (dress)
slip (sleep) [m] (underpants)
sweat (sweet) [m] (sweatshirt)
veste (vehst) [f] (jacket)
baskets (bahs-keht) [f] (sneakers)
pointure (pwan-tewr) [f] (shoe size)
bottes (boht) [f] (boots)

Which of these colors appear most in your clothes closet?

blanc (blahn) (white)
bleu (bluh) [m] (blue)
jaune (zhon) (yellow)
marron (mah-rohN) (brown)
noir (nwahr) [m] (black)
orange (or-ahnzh) [f] (orange)
rouge (roozh) (red)
vert (vehr) (green)
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The Essentials of French Words and Phrases for Traveling

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