Knowing what to say and how to talk to shopkeepers in Paris will help you to have a wonderful experience.
Here is a great video I found which will help you — practice the pronunciation and in just a couple of minutes you’ll know enough French to get by each time you go shopping.
Examples of what to say to shopkeepers:
Je voudrais acheter six tomates, svp (s’il vous plait = please) = I would like six tomatoes please.
Je voudrais deux baguettes, svp. = I would like two baguettes (French bread sticks) please.
Je voudrais 500 gram de camembert, svp. = I would like 500 grams of camembert (cheese) please.
Je voudrais 200 gram de paté de compagne, svp (country paté). = I would like 200 grams of country paté please.
And you? Et toi?
Share your experience by leaving your comment below :
What do you normally say when you go shopping in local shops?
Can you now write down your own phrases and the French translation? Did you notice other phrases when going to the shops and talking to shopkeepers?
One of the most famous New Year parades takes place in Paris, France. La Grande Parade (New Year’s Day parade) originates from the 1400s and takes place in various venues, especially the Grands Boulevards. It proceeds through Chantilly on 31st December and reaches Trocadero under the Eiffel Tower on January 1st.
Spectators line the streets to watch thousands of performers, entertainers, singers and dancers put on a spectacular show.
Fireworks and events are mostly concentrated around the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees, although the more traditional fireworks have recently been replaced by a spectacular light show – whatever and wherever, you can guarantee it’ll be fabulous!
New Year in France is also known as Jour de l’An.
La Galette des Rois
The New Year holidays in France end on January 6th with the ceremonial cutting of a cake known as la Galette des Rois (Cake of the Kings).
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is know as la Saint-Sylvestre. A special New Year feast is called le Reveillon de Saint-Sylvestre consisting of traditional dishes like pancakes, foie gras (flavored duck or goose pate) and of course — champagne to top it all off.
“Joyeux Noel! Bonne Annee!” – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I haven’t made a video this month, but I have some others I’d like to share with you- this is one of the last ones I made in Paris on my last trip, in my local cafe early in the morning savoring a coffee and croissant – yum!
This video shows you how to use a foreign laptop plug when staying in my favourite city :-)
I’ve found some great videos online to get you in the Christmas mood – ready to jump right in?
This is a cute little video for the kids – a popular French Christmas carol – I dare you to try not to smile :-)
This one is Christmas carols for grownups sung in French – I do hope you like it:
If you wish you were shopping in the beautifu stores of Paris, here’s a video showing shoppers doing their Christmas shopping in the Galieries Lafayette this year – the window displays are so cool! :
This video was taken last month at an ice skating rink at the Christmas Markets — oooooooh I wish I was there :-)
The Christimas lights on the Champs Elysees look amazing – the energy saver Light Rings on the trees which line the promenade are very cool:
Did you like those videos? I love watching different videos about Paris throughout the year to keep me in a French frame of mind.
What’s on in Paris in December & January?
There is so much to do in Paris even though it’s mid-winter, and simply walking the streets and absorbing the history is a great thing to do — and then stop and have some hot roasted chestnuts from a street stall, and explore some more until you find a Crepe stand to buy Nutella Crepes or my favourite – Lemon and Sugar – yum!
One of my favourite pastimes in Paris – drinking hot chocolate in a cosy café on a winter’s day!
I recently received an email from a delightful lady named Kara – here is her question (“Where can I find coats in a hurry for winter in Paris?”), my answer, and her lovely response:
Lovely blog — thanks for posting so many tips! I’m writing because my husband received a rather abrupt (but happy!) job transfer to Paris and we are to move in two weeks. Since we’ve been living in the southern U.S. for a few years now, we no longer own coats and, furthermore, they’re very hard to find down here where it seldom drops below 15C or so degrees. I’ve tried ordering online, but with poor results.
With only two weeks to pull everything together, I’m getting nervous that we will just have to board the plane coatless and freeze on arrival. Which brings me to you–do you think it’s possible to find a U.S. size 14 coat somewhere in Paris? I’m just imagining department stores full of coats for skinny Parisian women without a stitch to spare for more rounded out shapes.
Merci for your help! Peace, Kara
Teena’s Answer for winter in Paris
First of all – have no fear! You’re going to need thermal underwear for winter, so if you can find a place like DAMART locally or online, buy yourself leggings and a long-sleeve top to go under a shirt etc. That will keep the winter chill away until you can find a coat.
I’ve just looked at the temps in Paris, and the highs are around 17-18 degrees Celcius for the next week, so not freezing, but getting cooler.
If you don’t have overcoats before you leave, you can definitely find them on arrival.
You no doubt have somewhere to stay as soon as you land, so if you DO find anything online, you can have it shipped to your accommodation for the day you arrive (if you don’t have time to get it delivered before you leave the USA).
You’re probably better off waiting till you get there before spending too much money, as you’ll have a wider selection and you’ll be able to try things on rather than impulse-buy online.
For plus-size coats, you’re in luck! There are BEAUTIFUL fashions in Paris for plus-size beauties, and I host shopping tours to a lot of these stores in summer-time.
I have a list of plus size clothes on my website (it may be a year or two out of date, but it’s a start):
To travel on the plane, wear a few layers with long sleeves, find yourself a large shawl or scarf you can drape around yourself, add a jaunty scarf around the neck, and you’ll be fine till you get to your accommodation and can go shopping.
OOOooohhhh what a lucky possum you are! You two will have the best fun, and I’d love to hear from you to see what you end up doing and buying.
Best of luck, keep an eye out for the word “SOLDES” which means ‘SALE!” twice a year (it is extremely regulated and all stores have sales at exactly the same time each year).
Ciao for now
Kara’s reply to winter in Paris
Thank you SO MUCH for your extraordinarily helpful email! My husband and I depart on Monday and I am still scrambling to find an overcoat, so really helped to put my mind at ease.
Upon your advice, I just bought some fleece-lined shirts and leggings (divine!), so I’ll be alright until I get to pop in to Ulla Popken or Jean-Marc Phillipe :) Your shopping tours sound like so much fun — I’ll see if I can get a few girlfriends to come visit over the summer and sign up with me!
Hope your move up the coast went well and that you love your new home. Thanks again for all your help! Take care.
I was so pleased to be able to help Kara – if you have a question, please do let me know and I’ll do my best to answer it, just like this one about winter in Paris :-)
Here are a selection of questions from people who visit my site or follow my Newsletter – maybe my answers will help you too. If you have a quetion, get in touch and I’ll do my best to help :-)
Comment from Susan
This week Susan wrote about the Travel Packing Tips, and this prompted me to remind you that each time you land on a page on my website, you’ll be able to find similar pages shown at the bottom of the page, listed as “Related Pages”. For example, if you land on any one of the Travel Packing Tips pages, you’ll see something like this at the bottom of the page – simply click any one of the icons to go to another page:
Question from Kara
Kara was moving to Paris with only two week’s notice, and had to find coats in a hurry!
New Postcards from Paris Adventures Deck of Cards!
I’ve wanted to let you know that I’ve been working on a cool little pack of cards – 50 of them – and each one has a tip for a great thing to do or a great place to see in Paris, including some of my favourites.
I’m so excited about this, the pack is small enough to fit in any pocket, handbag or backpack, and each day you’re in Paris you can shuffle the deck and pick out a new adventure for the day.
This is perfect for anyone going to Paris, or as a gift for anyone who loves the idea of Paris.
I’d love your feedback — does this sound like something you’d use? Got any suggestions of your own? Click on the Contact form button in the Menu – I’d love to hear from you!
What’s on in Paris in October?
The French word “fete” means “festival” and there are so many to choose from, you certainly won’t get bored in Paris!
the CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL! “For its 2013 edition from 30 October through 3 November, the Salon du Chocolat will increase from 12,500 to 20,000 sqm dedicated entirely to sweet treats.” Read more >>
the TANGO FESTIVAL – Tango takes over the Paris during this festival which includes concerts, dancing, music and singing workshops, cinema and video, art exhibitions, photography, theater, debates, lectures, food and cabaret evenings Read more >>
NUIT BLANCHE (White Night) – an amazing collection of nocturnal events and activities in and around Paris, including museums, libraries, monuments, cinemas, etc. Read more >>
Fête Des Vendanges de Montmartre — Wine and grape Festival in Montmartre! There are some free tickets still available for the acoustic concert with Alain Chamfort on 13th October. Be quick! Read more >>
Lynne wrote to me recently asking if I had any suggestions for her daughter’s Visa card problem in Paris.
My daughter is currently studying abroad in Paris. She is having trouble with many of the merchants not accepting her American Visa credit card.
Do you know of a prepay loadable card that she can easily put money on to use? or do you have another solution than her hitting the ATM and carrying Euros everywhere?
Teena’s reply to “Visa card problem in Paris”
Hi there Lynn,
I’m sorry to hear your daughter’s had problems. I was in Paris a year ago with my Australian Visa card and didn’t have any problems, but to avoid lots of fees I also made sure to have 100-200 euro on me in cash at all times.
I did go to my bank before I left Australia and tried a pre-paid debit card which could be used as a credit card too — that worked out well, but the fees were quite high.
Just a thought — smaller merchants might have to pay high fees to accept credit cards, so they probably only accept cash.
If your daughter doesn’t like to carry much cash, perhaps she could try Traveller’s Cheques / Travelers’ Checks, but to be honest I haven’t used those for year, and she may have the same problems trying to cash them with smaller merchants.
Has your daughter met any other girls her age living in Paris who might offer suggestions for her?
Finding out how others cope in the same situation might be helpful.
As long as your daughter is careful not to flash her open wallet around, and keeps it in her handbag in FRONT of her as she walks along the streets, she shouldn’t experience any difficulties with cash.
I’m sorry I don’t have any other solution for you, but do let me know how she gets on, if she tries one of these suggestions or comes up with a much better one.
What a wonderful adventure for her to have – wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all meet up for a latte in Paris one afternoon? Ahhhhh bliss!
Ciao for now, best of luck!
I hope Lynne’s daughter has now solved this tricky issue when shopping in Paris.
Have you ever had a Visa card problem in Paris? I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips or suggestions. Thanks!
I’ve lived in Paris so I do know, but thought I’d get a Wikipedia explanation for you:
“Bastille Day is the name given in English speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale and commonly Le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July).
The French National Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on the 14 July 1789, as well as the Fête de la Fédération on the 14 July 1790.
Celebrations are held all over France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign guests.”
If I’m lucky enough to be in Paris for le Quatorze Juillet (Bastille Day), I generally celebrate with friends by having a picnic or going out to dinner. There will be plenty of restaurants open for this national holiday, but a make sure you BOOK IN ADVANCE so you will have a guaranteed reservation.
Chatelle’s question: “How do I buy cheese in Paris?”
When Chatelle wrote and asked me about buying cheese, it brought back memories of the markets and the Fromageries (cheese shops) in Paris.
Teena, finally June 2013 has arrived and in 2 weeks I head for Paris. Cannot wait.
I do have, I suppose, a silly question: I will be wanting to purchase Baguettes and cheese.
How do I buy the cheese? do I ask for a portion, slice, or what.
Here in the USA I can order several at 1/4 to 1/2 pound. Pounds aren’t in France LOL.
Thanks for your reply! Chatelle
Hi there Chatelle,
OOOOooohhh how exciting! You’re almost in Paris!
Excellent question – (never silly!) and as with everything, there are several ways to do this.
One pound converts to 453 grams, but I take that up to 500 grams just to make it easy when I’m trying to calculate it in my head whilst shopping.
2 pounds in weight is 907 grams, so close enough to one kilo
1 pound in weight is about half a kilo (500 grams)
half a pound is about a quarter of a kilo (250 gm)
If you’re comfortable with trying to speak French, here are some suggestions.
Your questions could be:
Converting as you go:
“A pound of cheese please (approximately 500 grams).” = “Cinq cent (500) grammes de fromage, s’il vous plait.”
“Half a pound of cheese please (250 grams).” = “Deux cent cinquant (250) grammes de fromage, s’il vous plait.”
“Quarter of a pound of cheese please (125 grams).” = “Cent vingt-cinq (125) grammes de fromage, s’il vous plait.”
If you’re not too comfortable speaking French, you could create some cards for your wallet, and write in thick marker pen, the amounts in grams, e.g. 100 grams, 200 grams etc.
Show these to the shopkeeper and point to the cheese (fromage) of your choice. You can also say the name if you can read it, and if you’re ok with that – Camembert, Brie, etc – they should all have their names written on them in the window etc.
I do hope this helps! I’m looking forward to hearing from you about all the things you love about Paris — wave to the Eiffel Tower and say hello from me, OK?
Bon voyage! Have a great trip!
Got any tips of your own for the question, “How do I buy cheese in Paris?” Feel free to share – I’d love to hear from you :-)
The annual sales in Paris are held in summer and winter, and the dates are strictly controlled by the Government.
If you happen to be in Paris in June, as you walk around the shops and stores you’ll notice the word “SOLDES” everywhere — which means “SALE”.
When are the summer sales in Paris?
The 2013 summer sales begin on June 26th and go to July 30th, 2013.
When are the winter sales in Paris?
The 2014 winter sales in begin in Paris on January 8th and go to February 11th, 2014.
What’s on sale in these annual sales in Paris?
You name it, you can find it:
handbags and bags
just about whatever your little heart desires.
Where to find the Sales / “Soldes”
Walk along the popular streets and int he arcades, you’ll find so much being offered at a discount prices inshops and stores all over Paris, in large stores and small trendy boutiques, in department stores, little designer stores in the suburbs to major designer labels and internationally known designer stores.
Make a day of it – go with friends, plan where to have lunch (off the main streets to avoid the shoppers in crowds) and enjoy yourself whilst shopping the annual sales in Paris!
Walk around any Parisian street every morning of the year and you’ll see people in cafés, eating croissants, standing at the bar to drink their espresso coffee and others dipping their croissants into their thick creamy cafe au lait (milky coffee).
Every now and then when I’m in Paris I’ll have a change and order a non-croissant breakfast which comprises of a cafe au lait (milk coffee), a tartine (a piece of baguette) with beurre (butter) and confiture (jam).
In this photo above I was in a cafe in the 2nd arrondissement (le 2eme – “the Second”) and could watch the world go by while I took my time over breakfast. I’d be making notes and sketching in my trusty notebook and taking photos and videos with my iphone, relaxing whilst absorbing the bustling Parisian life around me.
I never ever tire of doing this – it’s a wonderful way to start the day, and to me, Paris feels like no other city or location I’ve lived in around the world.
Have you had the same feeling when you’ve been in Paris or anywhere else? I’d love to hear about it … comment below or click any of the buttons to connect with – better still, make a quick video or audio and email them to me, that’d be very cool :-)
Petit dejeuner in Paris … the ONLY way to start your day!
It’s a bit windy here today in Melbourne, and the temps are expected to be in the low 20 degrees Celcius, but we do expect rain. I’m looking at the weather in Paris and a “high” of 10degC is still a bit chilly, but from here on in it should start to get a little warmer in the lead up to summer for June/July/August:
I’ve wanted to let you know that my book of Paris photos is ready, but in all honesty it’s taken longer than I wanted due to the move to a new city, yahda yahda (sorry for the excuses!), but it WILL be ready soooon, promise! I’ve now given myself a deadline, so fingers’ crossed!
My website about Paris is a labour of love, and sometimes I recommend things for which I receive a very small commission (sometimes 20c, 50c, $1). These small commissions help me pay for the hosting and upkeep of the site, so if you buy something, I’m sending you a big warm hearty “thank you” hug in advance!