Caution: these beautiful French words may cause shortness of breath or weakness at the knees.
Whether you want to impress your significant other, impress a French speaker or just add some beauty to your life, you’ll love this list of 122 beautiful French words!
Meaning: absolute; no limits
Let’s start with a big one. If you want to make your significant other melt where they stand, tell them Ma dévotion envers toi est absolue. (My devotion to you is absolute.)
Son dévouement est absolu envers sa famille. (Her dedication to her family is absolute.)
Meaning: to welcome or receive
Few things can make your heart feel full like a warm welcome from a country like France—as well as your loved ones who live there.
Le pays a accueilli les visiteurs avec hospitalité. (The country welcomed the visitors with hospitality.)
Meaning: airy, ethereal
Ever been to Provence? Walking through its flower fields can make you feel like you’ve wandered into another world. Next time you see a sight that gives you a similar feeling, have this word at the ready.
Les voiles du bateau flottent avec une grâce aérienne. (The boat’s sails float with airy grace.)
Wings are amazing, aren’t they? They seem so delicate, yet they’re able to transport their owners—whether it be birds or angels—over long distances to see the most beautiful sights France has to offer.
Les oiseaux battent des ailes pour s’envoler dans le ciel. (Birds flap their wings to take flight in the sky.)
Meaning: self-esteem, self-love
It’s often said that, in order to truly love others, you must first learn to truly love yourself. Writing the word amour-propre on a Post-it or anywhere you can see it can remind you that, no matter what happens, you are worth taking care of.
Il a appris à cultiver son amour-propre et à s’accepter tel qu’il est. (He learned to nurture his self-esteem and accept himself as he is.)
What helps you feel relaxed? For me, it’s the gentle tinkling sound of classical piano on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Whatever your answer is, I hope apaisant adequately captures that feeling of being calm and soothed.
La musique douce a un effet apaisant sur mes nerfs. (Soft music has a calming effect on my nerves.)
Watercolor is one of the more difficult art mediums to master. But once you do, the results can be breathtaking.
Elle peint de magnifiques paysages à l’aquarelle. (She paints beautiful landscapes in watercolor.)
Meaning: dawn, daybreak
L’aube annonce le début d’une nouvelle journée. (Dawn heralds the beginning of a new day.)
On cloudy days, when the light from the sun or moon is at a certain angle, you can see a halo. Take your French lover to see one of these, and have fun making up stories about how these haloes come to be!
La lumière du soleil créait une auréole autour de sa tête. (The sunlight created a halo around his head.)
Of course, no list of beautiful French words would be complete without belle. It’s not just for beautiful women—it’s for anything you find pleasing to the eyes (and the rest of your senses).
Le musée abrite une collection de belles œuvres d’art. (The museum houses a collection of beautiful works of art.)
You don’t need to be a baby to appreciate a lullaby. Chances are, you either have a vague memory of it from your own childhood, or you’ve heard another mother sing it to her own child.
Either way, there’s just something mesmerizing about these types of French songs.
La maman chante une berceuse à son bébé. (The mother sings a lullaby to her baby.)
Meaning: kiss on the cheek
A little tip for your next visit to France: the French greet each other with one bisou on each cheek in many regions. In some areas of France they offer the left cheek first and in others the right cheek, so be careful!
Je t’envoie de gros bisous. (I’m sending you big kisses.)
Meaning: mist or haze
France averages 200 days of rainfall every year, so expect brume to be a regular occurrence during your stay in the country. Depending on your point of view, the sight can either be eerie or add an element of aérienne to the sights of Paris.
Le paysage est enveloppé dans une brume matinale mystérieuse. (The landscape is wrapped in a mysterious morning mist.)
There are so many captivante places in France (like the city of Nice), you’ll need an entire article (or series of articles) to cover them all. If you’re visiting France, you’ll definitely be using this word a lot.
Son histoire captivante a attiré l’attention de nombreux lecteurs. (Her captivating story caught the attention of many readers.)
Whether the caresse is from your lover or those new bedsheets you just bought, it feels good to have that gentle, gliding touch over your skin.
Elle sentit la douce caresse du vent sur sa peau. (She felt the gentle caress of the wind on her skin.)
Meaning: heat or warmth
Warmth is that comforting feeling when you’re near a fireplace during the winter or in the arms of someone you care about deeply (not just in a romantic way!)
En été, la chaleur du soleil se fait sentir. (In summer, the warmth of the sun is felt.)
If you’re dating a French person, you should expect to be called charmante at some point. And you should definitely say the same to your chéri (love) or person with whom you’re flirting.
Tu es très charmante, chérie. (You are very charming, dear.)
Given France’s history, it’s no surprise that the country has a lot of beautiful castles. Give one of these a tour and go back in time—even without a time machine!
Le château médiéval se dresse fièrement sur la colline. (The medieval castle stands proudly on the hill.)
If you’re a cat lover, you should definitely know this word. Even if you’re not, you can’t deny that young animals are pretty cute in general.
Le chaton joue avec une boule de laine. (The kitten plays with a ball of yarn.)
When the sun’s rays hit the Seine River just right, it almost looks like the heavens—even just for a moment—came down to earth to grace us with their presence.
Les ailes du papillon sont chatoyantes sous le soleil. (The butterfly’s wings are shimmering in the sunlight.)
Another term of endearment, choupette (cutie or sweetie) is often used for loved ones. It can also be shortened to choupie , typically used for children.
Je t’aime, ma choupette. (I love you, sweetie.)
Ma choupette, je t’aime tellement. (My love, I love you so much.)
Fun fact: the late designer Karl Lagerfield’s cat was named Choupette.
Butterflies never cease to amaze me. Imagine being able to wrap yourself within a cocoon, break down your own body and rebuild it back again to become one of the loveliest creatures on Earth.
That metamorphosis is possible thanks to the insect’s ability to become a chrysalis.
La chrysalide se transforme en un magnifique papillon coloré. (The chrysalis transforms into a beautiful, colorful butterfly.)
Who wouldn’t love an intimate chuchoter in French? Although it might be a little bit harder to understand, the excitement of it might send you all a quiver.
Peut-être (maybe) the context won’t even matter as long as it’s in French!
Il chuchote des mots doux. (He whispers sweet nothings.)
Sometimes translated as “brightness,” clarté comes when you come to a major realization about something—or simply look at that something in a different (and more wonderful) way.
La clarté de la pleine lune éclaire le paysage la nuit. (The brightness of the full moon illuminates the landscape at night.)
A lovely-sounding word for an even-lovelier meaning, what good luck you’ll have if a coccinelle lands on you. These spotted cuties are likely the only beetle you’ll be happy finding anywhere near you.
Une coccinelle s’est envolée. (A ladybug flew away.)
Meaning: wild poppy; red corn rose
Coquelicot can also mean a certain shade of red, but it originally referred to a flower of the same name. The flower is especially striking because its bright red color stands out amidst vast green fields.
Les champs sont couverts de coquelicots rouges vifs. (The fields are covered with vibrant red poppies.)
The next time you visit the South of France, take a walk along one of the beautiful beaches and you may come across a coquillage.
Keep the memories of your holiday by collecting the seashells, and then bring them home as un petit souvenir (a little souvenir).
Ils ont trouvé des coquillages sur la plage. (They found seashells on the beach.)
Meaning: hello (informal)
However, if you’re speaking to a friend or loved one, coucou can be used no matter the time of day.
The phrase is typically used as an initial greeting, upon arrival home for example.
Coucou mon chéri. (Hello my love.)
I don’t see a lot of lace doilies these days, but those are definitely the first thing I think of when I hear the word délicatesse. You can use it to describe anything beautiful that seems like it might break if you so much as touch it.
La dentelle sur la robe ajoutait une touche de délicatesse à son apparence. (The lace on the dress added a touch of refinement to her appearance.)
Délice is certainly a delightful word! What gives you a feeling of délice when you see, hear, taste, touch or smell it?
Ce gâteau au chocolat est un vrai délice. (This chocolate cake is a real delight.)
This word can be used to describe anything that makes you feel like you want to lie down on it and sleep. As for me, I love the douceur of my dog’s fur whenever I come home from a tiring day at work.
La douceur du cachemire contre sa peau est agréable. (The softness of cashmere against her skin is delightful.)
Doudou may just be the most adorable term in this list and not just because it sounds precious. If you’re around French-speaking children, you’ll hear them ask for their doudou when their favorite stuffed animal has been misplaced.
It doesn’t have to be a teddy, any plush toy will likely fit the term. If the child is young and still learning to speak, they may shorten the word to the even sweeter dou.
Où est doudou ? (Where is teddy?)
Le coin du feu est toujours douillet en hiver. (The fireplace area is always cozy in winter.)
Meaning: to dazzle
Every July 14th, Paris has a fireworks display to celebrate Bastille Day, which commemorates the fall of the Bastille—and, by extension, the tyrannical rule of the Bourbon dynasty. Eblouir is just one word of many you can use to describe this event.
Le spectacle pyrotechnique a réussi à éblouir la foule. (The fireworks show succeeded in dazzling the crowd.)
There are plenty of things you can use the word éclatant for. It can be the fireworks display we talked about earlier, the sunrise/sunset over Paris or even someone’s personality.
Sa personnalité éclatante illumine la pièce lorsqu’elle entre. (Her radiant personality lights up the room when she enters.)
Meaning: to eclipse
No, this isn’t the phenomenon where one heavenly body gives the illusion of completely covering another. Éclipsant is when something (or someone) stands out so much that it’s hard to look at anything else but them.
Sa prestation éclipsait celle de tous les autres concurrents. (His performance outshone those of all other competitors.)
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. For starters, it’s always heralded by the éclosion of birds and butterflies as well as better weather conditions.
Les scientifiques étudient attentivement l’éclosion des œufs pour mieux comprendre le développement des embryons. (Scientists carefully study the hatching of eggs to better understand embryonic development.)
Meaning: to brush or graze
When your lover gazes deep into your eyes and does an effleurer over your cheeks, they’re probably letting you know that you can count on them to have your back.
Ses doigts effleurent délicatement le piano. (Her fingers delicately graze the piano.)
Meaning: to kiss
Like bisou, embrasser means “kiss”—except the former is a noun, while the latter is a verb.
Ils se sont embrassés passionnément sous la pluie, comme dans une scène de film romantique. (They kissed passionately in the rain, like in a romantic movie scene.)
This word may be one of the more straightforward ones on this list, but it’s no less beautiful. Gems are just beautiful to look at, after all.
Ses yeux brillent comme des émeraudes. (Her eyes sparkle like emeralds.)
Meaning: to marvel or amaze
When you’ve seen enough of the world, you can experience émerveiller over and over again. When you see the world with a special person, that feeling of awe intensifies even more.
Le spectacle de la nature nous émerveille toujours. (The spectacle of nature always amazes us.)
You don’t have to be in a fairy tale to experience the enchanteur. Just seeing an amazing sight (or being with an amazing loved one) is enough to conjure a sense of wonder and amazement.
La forêt était un lieu enchanteur avec ses arbres majestueux et ses ruisseaux cristallins. (The forest was an enchanting place with its majestic trees and crystal-clear streams.)
If you’re in France having a nice time with one of the locals, and you hear the word envie, you know they’re interested.
When expressing that you want to do something in French, the grammar construction is avoir (to have) + envie (desire) + de (to) + verb in the infinitive form. This means that you only conjugate avoir, leaving the second verb in its infinitive form.
J’ai envie de te voir. (I have desire to see you. / I want to see you.)
Meaning: to enchant
By now, you may have realized that so many beautiful French words refer to the feeling of being amazed or enraptured by something—and envouter is no different. You’ll definitely never run out of words to describe the emotions I just talked about!
Sa voix envoûte tous ceux qui l’écoutent. (Her voice mesmerizes all those who listen to her.)
You know those times when you have so many emotions inside you that you couldn’t bottle them up any longer? Well, the moment you let them out, you are experiencing a feeling of épanchement.
L’épanchement des émotions a permis de libérer la tension. (The outpouring of emotions allowed the release of tension.)
Épanouissement actually has a lot of potential meanings. It can mean “blossoming” like for flowers or the completion of something—like a project, a program, or just a feeling of accomplishment.
Le bonheur est un chemin d’épanouissement personnel. (Happiness is a path of personal fulfillment.)
Meaning: ephemeral or short-lived
Some things or memories are beautiful because they don’t last forever. They’re the sort you want to treasure because you know that, at any moment, you could lose them.
La beauté de la fleur est éphémère, mais intense. (The beauty of the flower is ephemeral, yet intense.)
When you see something so beautiful that it takes your breath away (like a clear blue sky reflecting on the Seine River), you can say it’s époustouflant.
Le panorama depuis le sommet de la montagne est époustouflant. (The view from the mountain top is breathtaking.)
Meaning: equilibrium or balance
Beautiful things almost always have an element of balance to them—whether it’s symmetrical facial features or the way the colors on a painting highlight and contrast against each other.
Trouver l’équilibre entre le travail et les loisirs est important pour le bien-être. (Finding balance between work and leisure is important for well-being.)
If you’re familiar with Greek mythology, you’ve probably heard of the story of Pandora’s box. In it, a girl opens a box and accidentally releases all the evils into the world. By the time she manages to close the box, only espérance remains in it.
And that’s why, whenever bad things happen, it’s important to have espérance so you can get through the bad times.
L’espoir d’un avenir meilleur continue de guider ses actions. (The hope for a better future continues to guide his actions.)
When you think of an “expanse” of anything, you usually think of sprawling green fields. Actually, étendue can also be used to describe what you see of Paris when you look at it from the top of the Eiffel Tower—vibrant and full of life.
Devant nous s’étend une vaste étendue de champs verts. (Before us lies an expanse of green fields.)
Ever known couples who’ve managed to be together well into their senior years? Éternel love may not actually exist, but those couples have certainly come close!
Leur amour était sincère et éternel. (Their love was sincere and everlasting.)
Meaning: spark or glimmer
Here’s another piece of (unsolicited) life advice: étincelle stands out not against the light, but against the dark. In other words, when things get bad, you’re even more beautiful when you choose to go to (or be) the light.
Dans ses yeux, on pouvait voir une étincelle de joie. (In his eyes, one could see a spark of joy.)
There are certain clothing brands I love more than others for different reasons. Some I prefer because their classic designs are easy to mix-and-match, while others I absolutely adore because their étoffe is just so comfortable even on days that are too hot or cold.
What about you? What is your favorite étoffe?
Cette robe est confectionnée dans une étoffe soyeuse et délicate. (This dress is made of silky and delicate fabric.)
Speaking of beautiful French words, étoile is most certainly one of them! On a clear night in the French countryside, the ideal date would be a romantic evening picnic followed by observation des étoiles avec votre chéri/chérie (star gazing with your darling).
Il avait des étoiles dans les yeux. (He had stars in his eyes.)
There are few gestures more intimate than a hug. Whether you have romantic or platonic feelings for the person you’re giving it to, étreinte conveys a sense of comfort and reassurance.
Lorsqu’il entendit la triste nouvelle, il serra son amie dans une étreinte réconfortante. (When he heard the sad news, he held his friend in a comforting embrace.)
Meaning: to be fascinated
Luckily, this word is similar enough to its English counterpart that it’s pretty easy to guess what it means and conveys.
Le documentaire sur les dauphins était fascinant. (The documentary about dolphins was fascinating.)
Meaning: magical or enchanting
If you have trouble connecting this word to its English definition, think of fairies and how they enchant human beings (for better or worse).
Le spectacle de feux d’artifice était absolument féerique. (The fireworks show was absolutely magical.)
Meaning: to stroll, wander or dawdle
This verb is difficult to fully translate into English. Flâner is a favorite pastime of the French. There’s nothing better than walking around town with little-to-no purpose.
Ils flânent dans la ville chaque dimanche. (They stroll into town every Sunday.)
Meaning: to bloom or blossom
This is another French word that means “to blossom.” Since it comes from the root word fleur (flower), you can easily connect it to how flowers, well, flower during the spring season.
Au printemps, les arbres fleurissent avec de jolies couleurs. (In spring, the trees bloom with beautiful colors.)
Meaning: flourishing or thriving
Be careful not to confuse this one with fleurissent (bloom)! Unlike our last word, florissant connotes the general growth of something—whether it’s a farm or business venture.
Le jardin est florissant avec une grande variété de fleurs. (The garden is flourishing with a wide variety of flowers.)
Meaning: to float
Ever heard of the Portuguese Man-of-War? Trust me: despite its decidedly-not-French name, it’s actually related to the word we’re about to cover. It’s essentially a colony of organisms that “move” by letting the currents take it to wherever. That’s right: this creature literally embodies the saying “going with the flow.”
Les nuages blancs flottent paisiblement dans le ciel bleu. (The white clouds peacefully float in the blue sky.)
Frailty isn’t always weakness. Frailty can be the quality of something (a memory or an old-fashioned paper letter) that’s all the more beautiful because it can disappear the next moment.
Le papillon repose sur la fleur, ses ailes frêles tremblant légèrement. (The butterfly rests on the flower, its delicate wings quivering slightly.)
Meaning: to shiver or shudder
You know when you watch a movie or hear a piece of music that touches you so deeply, it gives you “goosebumps”? Thanks to the French word frissonner, you have another way to describe that feeling.
Le vent froid fait frissonner les feuilles. (The cold wind makes the leaves shiver.)
Meaning: to graze
Like caresse, this word conjures images of a gentle touch—perhaps from your lover or a breeze when you walk out and about on a cool, sunny day.
Ses doigts effleuraient à peine la surface de l’eau. (Her fingers barely grazed the surface of the water.)
Meaning: fleeting or ephemeral
There are things that are beautiful because they last forever, and things that are just as beautiful because you only have a moment to savor them.
As for me, my favorite fugace thing is the smell of freshly baked bread wafting out from the nearest bakery.
Le parfum fugace des fleurs sauvages embaumait l’air. (The fleeting scent of wildflowers perfumed the air.)
Meaning: eating a lot of good food; treat
Having a healthy appetite isn’t necessarily a bad thing (unless you’re on a diet). It can mean that you’d happily savor every meal in front of you because you just love the chef’s creations that much!
And while you’re at it, there are plenty of other ways to show that you love your French food.
Les macarons sont une gourmandise délicieuse. (Macarons are a delicious treat.)
Grace is often associated with beauty. It can refer to the way a dancer moves, the curve of a swan’s neck or the way the different architectural elements in a house convey the personality of the one who lives in it.
Elle danse de manière gracieuse et élégante. (She dances gracefully and elegantly.)
Not only does the hippocampe travel the lengths of the sea, but the males carry the babies rather than the females.
Of course, a creature like this needs a beautiful name to reflect their wonderful exterior and strength.
L’hippocampe a nagé dans la mer. (The seahorse swam in the sea.)
If you’re into fairy tales like me, you were probably introduced to the swallow as a pivotal character in the Hans Christian Andersen story “Thumbelina.”
While Andersen is a Danish author, it’s nice to hear that the French have such a lovely name for these nimble and beautiful birds as well.
Les hirondelles volent haut dans le ciel bleu. (The swallows fly high in the blue sky.)
Impressionist paintings are characterized by being made up of subtle brush strokes. (You may have thought of Vincent Van Gogh when you read that, but funnily enough, he’s actually considered a post-impressionist painter.)
Rather, you should probably look up names like Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, to name a few.
Ce tableau est une œuvre impressionniste captivante. (This painting is a captivating impressionist artwork.)
Another beautiful French word that’s easy to remember because it’s close to its English counterpart is infini. (I like that they dropped the -te all together!)
L’amour qu’ils partagent semble être infini. (The love they share seems to be infinite.)
Interestingly enough, this is pretty similar to the Spanish word for “garden,” possibly because they have similar linguistic roots. In any case, gardens always bring to mind images of places bursting with life and beauty.
Le jardin est rempli de fleurs colorées. (The garden is filled with colorful flowers.)
Meaning: I love you
With all the beautiful French phrases out there, this is probably the one that carries the most weight.
Remember that words are ordered differently in French than in English. So instead of having
“you” at the end of “I love you,” the t’ (you) is in the middle of the sentence: Je t’aime (Literally: I you love).
It seems fitting to include joli/jolie in this list of pretty French words, as all of the words included in it are très jolis (very pretty)!
The next time you meet someone pretty in France, you should tell them so!
Cette fille est vraiment jolie ! Peut-être je devrais parler avec elle. (This girl is really pretty! Maybe I should talk to her.)
Need I explain further why joy is such a beautiful word? When you’re happy, you feel a lightness in your chest that, in turn, makes you feel good and blissful.
C’était un anniversaire joyeux avec des amis et de la musique. (It was a joyful birthday celebration with friends and music.)
“As light as a feather, as hard as dragon scales” was how mithril was described in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” books. LOTR references aside, you can’t deny that lightness typically conveys grace and beauty.
La danseuse virevoltait avec légèreté sur la scène. (The dancer twirled lightly on the stage.)
Dragonflies aren’t just majestic insects. They’re also pretty good indicators of the health of the environment since they’re extremely sensitive to changes in their surroundings. So if you see dragonflies buzzing around in your neighborhood, that’s a good sign!
Les libellules volent gracieusement au-dessus de l’étang. (Dragonflies fly gracefully over the pond.)
Meaning: liberty or freedom
When the French populace finally decided to overthrow their monarchy near the end of the 18th century, you can bet many of them screamed about “Liberté!” on the streets of Paris.
Indeed, few things are more poignant and beautiful than the knowledge that you live in a country where you can be whoever you want to be because the constitution mandates it.
La liberté d’expression est un droit fondamental. (Freedom of expression is a fundamental right.)
They say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When your loved one is lointaine from you, the moment you see each other again is all the sweeter.
Au sommet de la montagne, la vue sur les vallées lointaines est impressionnante. (From the mountaintop, the view of the distant valleys is impressive.)
If, like me, you read that word and thought of the talking candle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” you’d be right! It’s a fitting name for one of the kinder characters in the film, as he not only is a literal candle, but also served as a source of light and warmth for Belle when she first set foot in the Beast’s castle.
La lueur de la bougie ajoutait une douce lumière à la pièce. (The candle’s glow added a soft light to the room.)
Speaking of talking candles, you can say that the entirety of the Beast’s castle is magique—or rather, under a magique spell. It’s the sort of spell that needs to be broken; however, other sources of magique (like the sights and sounds of Paris) should definitely be taken with you as wonderful memories.
La nuit de Noël est toujours une période magique. (Christmas Eve is always a magical time.)
Magnifique is one of those words that’s, well, hard to put into words—you know magnifique when you see it. It can be the interior of a castle (I swear I’ll stop talking about castles after this!) or a person who’s able to weather terrible experiences and come out of it a better human being.
La cathédrale est un exemple magnifique d’architecture gothique. (The cathedral is a splendid example of Gothic architecture.)
Mélancolie isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes, it’s necessary to sit with certain emotions, reflect on them and learn from them.
La musique triste évoque une douce mélancolie. (The sad music evokes a gentle melancholy.)
What you think of as a beautiful mélodie may not be what I think of as beautiful. That said, well-composed music—no matter what genre it is—can transport us into a mindspace that we wouldn’t mind spending hours in.
La douce mélodie du violon charme l’audience. (The sweet melody of the violin charms the audience.
Meaning: sweetheart or beloved
Chouchou is a term of endearment that just sounds and feels so nice to say. If you’re in a relationship with a French-speaker, you’ll likely use this word a lot. Additionally, if one day you have French-speaking children, it’s another popular term used by parents for their little ones.
For even more affection, use mon petit chouchou (my little sweetheart).
Mon chouchou tu es si beau ! (Sweetheart, you are so beautiful!)
Murmure can come from the sounds of birds “talking” in the trees—or the lover whispering sweet nothings in your ears.
Les amoureux échangent des murmures doux. (The lovers exchange sweet whispers.)
Birds are one of my favorite animals. They can fly as high up in the sky as they can and travel to see places humans can only dream about.
Les oiseaux chantent joyeusement au lever du soleil. (The birds sing joyfully at sunrise.)
Meaning: to undulate
Something about moving curves is so mesmerizing. Whether it’s the bodies of lovers in the throes of passion or the movement of waves against the wind, onduler is a word you’ll want to keep handy for these moments.
L’eau calme de l’étang ondule doucement sous la brise. (The calm water of the pond gently undulates under the breeze.)
Whenever you visit a place so beautiful you can’t believe it actually exists on Earth, you can’t help but say that it’s paradis.
Les plages de sable blanc sont un véritable paradis tropical. (The white sandy beaches are a true tropical paradise.)
Pamplemousse might not be the most used word in the French language, but it’s definitely a beautiful one.
The French have wonderful markets all around the country, so the next time you’re near the fruits, why not look for a pamplemousse?
Monsieur, deux pamplemousses s’il vous plaît ! (Sir, two grapefruits please!)
In spring and summer all over Europe you’ll see papillons (butterflies) emerge. The French use the word interchangeably for both butterflies and moths.
Not only are the creatures the word refers to precious, the syllables themselves just roll so smoothly off the tongue.
Oh, regardez ! Il y a un beau papillon ! (Oh, look! There’s a beautiful butterfly!)
If you hear rain on the weather forecast, just make sure you have your parapluie in your bag.
The origin of this beautiful French word can be explained if you split parapluie in half to make para + pluie. Para- is a prefix used to indicate protection and pluie is the French word for “rain.” Protection from the rain! Voila, ça marche ! (There you go, it works!)
Il va pleuvoir cet après-midi, donc apporte ton parapluie. (It is going to rain this afternoon, so bring your umbrella.)
Meaning: perfume or fragrance
Who doesn’t like the smell of perfume? Spritz some of it on and you can easily convey your mood for the day—whether it’s “I feel cheerful and energetic” or “I feel hot and sexy.”
Elle porte un parfum envoûtant. (She wears an enchanting perfume.)
You know what’s more beautiful than flowers? It’s pétales (petals) fluttering in the wind all at once during a warm spring day.
Les pétales de la fleur sont d’une douceur délicate. (The petals of the flower are of a delicate softness.)
Meaning: to bubble
Bubbles—whether they’re in a fine bottle of champagne or a can of soda—are nice to look at. They give the feeling that what you’re about to drink is fresh and able to quench your thirst.
Les bulles de champagne pétillent dans les verres. (The champagne bubbles sparkle in the glasses.)
Again, this is close enough to its English counterpart that you can easily remember it for things like the smell of freshly baked bread, the sight of your favorite pet being happy to see you or the way your lover touches you.
Manger son gâteau préféré est un vrai plaisir. (Eating a favorite cake is a real pleasure.)
Meaning: full of lfie
Many things can make you plein de vie, including the excitement and wonder of a new relationship or your newfound energy for a trip to France.
There, you and your partner can stroll down the belles rues (beautiful streets) of France and celebrate the little things that make life wonderful.
Elle est pleine de vie quand elle est avec son enfant. (She is full of life when she is with her child.)
When you say that something is “(like) poetry,” you usually mean it as a compliment. Indeed, when you’re studying French, you shouldn’t neglect studying their poésie.
Il a écrit de la poésie inspirante sur la beauté de la nature. (He wrote inspiring poetry about the beauty of nature.)
Whenever you look at the sun, or anything that shines as bright as the sun, you can’t help but think of it as radieux.
Le visage radieux de l’enfant illuminait la pièce. (The child’s radiant face lit up the room.)
While a beautiful object or person may not always be stunning, they can be pleasant enough to look at to be considered ravissante.
Elle porte une robe ravissante pour la fête. (She wears a lovely dress for the party.)
Where do you seek réconfort during the less-than-happy times? It can be in the company of awesome people or the company of a well-written tome.
Dans les moments difficiles, les amis apportent du réconfort. (In difficult times, friends provide comfort.)
If you love the water, you’ll want to remember ressac. There’s something about the waves moving back and forth in a pattern you can’t quite pin down that’s so relaxing.
Le bruit apaisant du ressac berce les vacanciers sur la plage. (The soothing sound of the sea surge lulls the vacationers on the beach.)
Meaning: to dream
To remember what this word means, think of the English word “reverie.” When you have the good kind of rêver, it can be a pleasurable experience—even if it’s just for a moment.
En regardant les étoiles, il aime rêver de voyages dans l’espace. (Looking at the stars, he enjoys dreaming of space travels.)
Think of sagesse as equivalent to “sagacious,” and you’ll have the definition of this one down.
Les paroles pleines de sagesse de son grand-père l’ont marqué à jamais. (The wise words of his grandfather have marked him forever.)
Like emeralds, sapphires are beautiful by virtue of being gemstones.
Elle porte un collier orné d’un magnifique saphir bleu. (She wears a necklace adorned with a beautiful blue sapphire.)
Meaning: to skip or hop
Ever been so happy that you just want to jump for joy? You can use sautiller (and its derivatives) for those moments.
Les enfants sautillaient joyeusement sur la plage. (The children were happily skipping on the beach.)
Serenity can be a cup of freshly brewed tea, a peaceful night out watching the stars or a piece of classical music playing gently in your ears to lull you to sleep.
Méditer dans la nature apporte une profonde sérénité. (Meditating in nature brings profound serenity.)
Who doesn’t like sincerity? We all want to know exactly where we stand with other people at all times, so we gravitate to those who have a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) vibe.
Sa sincérité dans ses paroles toucha le cœur des gens. (His/her sincerity in his/her words touched people’s hearts.)
Ariel is the world’s most famous sirène and her popularity doesn’t wane in France. In fact, she is well-known throughout the country and “The Little Mermaid” is a popular children’s book.
La Petite Sirène aime le prince. (The Little Mermaid loves the prince.)
Try and say soleil without a bit of a smile or added pep in your step. The term just sounds plain happy, which makes sense as a bit of sun, especially in the dreary winter of northern France is always welcome.
If you’re somewhere in the lovely south, you’ll likely enjoy a bit of soleil no matter the season. Or, as the French say — vous prenez le soleil (you are sunbathing).
Le soleil brille aujourd’hui ! (The sun is shining today!)
When you say that a sound is “sonorous,” you usually mean it’s loud but not in an unpleasant way. It’s the sort of loud that makes you want to pay attention and say “Yes, let me hear more.”
Sa voix sonore remplit la salle de concert. (Her resonant voice fills the concert hall.)
A soupir isn’t always a sign of exasperation or disappointment. You also sigh when you look at your loved one and think to yourself: “Wow, how on Earth did I get so lucky?”
Elle poussa un soupir de soulagement après avoir terminé son examen. (She let out a sigh of relief after finishing her exam.)
They say that a smile is the best makeup. When you give out a Duchenne smile (a smile that reaches your eyes), it tells people that you are genuinely happy or pleased about something
Son sourire illumine la pièce entière. (Her smile lights up the whole room.)
Meaning: sumptuous or luxurious
In French restaurants, it’s pretty common to be served multi-course meals. You’ll certainly never run out of reasons to say somptueux then! The word also refers to anything that looks rich or decadent.
Le château est décoré dans un style somptueux digne d’un conte de fées. (The castle is decorated in a sumptuous style worthy of a fairy tale.)
Splendeur sounds (and means) exactly like its English counterpart: something that is so beautiful because it gives off either a literal or metaphorical light.
La splendeur du coucher de soleil laisse tout le monde sans voix. (The splendor of the sunset leaves everyone speechless.)
Tendresse can be kind words. Tendresse can be the touches your loved ones give you when words aren’t enough. Tendresse can remind you that the small things matter.
Ils partageaient des moments de tendresse et de complicité qui renforçaient leur lien. (They shared moments of tenderness and complicity that strengthened their bond.)
Everyone—even extroverts!—need moments of tranquillité to balance out the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. A tranquil moment can come in the form of a 1-minute meditation or a meal cooked to perfection.
Le bord du lac est un endroit idéal pour trouver la tranquillité. (The lakeside is an ideal place to find tranquility.)
Treasures aren’t only what you find when you dig in the spot marked “X.” They’re everything you assign value to—whether it’s an old heirloom or a relationship with a great person.
Cette lettre est un trésor sentimental pour moi. (This letter is a sentimental treasure for me.)
If you’re adventurous and want to venture out of the usual urban tourist spots, France has plenty of picturesque valleys as well.
La vallée était entourée de montagnes majestueuses. (The valley was surrounded by majestic mountains.)
Velvet has a pretty distinctive texture. When used on clothes, it instantly lends that piece of attire an opulent feel.
Le tissu doux et luxueux est du velours. (The soft and luxurious fabric is velvet.)
We usually think of curvy individuals when we think of the word “voluptuous,” but it can be anything with good-looking curves—like the aforementioned vallée.
Le parfum exotique a une note voluptueuse et enivrante. (The exotic perfume has a voluptuous and intoxicating note.)
These are just a few examples of beautiful words in French. Believe me, I could carry on all day, but even with just a tidbit of knowledge I think my point is made.
Though if you do want to find more beautiful French words, you can’t go wrong with immersion. Surround yourself with the language and its beauty will naturally make its way into your life. A language learning program like FluentU, for example, will expose you to authentic French videos such as movie trailers and inspiring talks and allow you to make flashcards out of any beautiful word you come across!
It’s always a great idea to keep a pen and paper or your cell phone ready as you interact with French media!
Now you have 122 beautiful French words you can add to your vocabulary!
Try and practice these pretty French words before your next trip abroad, and who knows—you may be able to trick the French population into thinking you’re French too!
With these words, I can safely say to the French language: Je t’aime ! (I love you!)
I am enjoying FluentU. I have been using this site for a couple weeks and I have definitely noticed a huge improvement in my vocabulary. I love that it uses a lot of relevant clips like Norman fait des videos to practice REAL French, and it is presented in such a fun way that it makes it easy to practice. Using this site has become part of my daily routine.
- Rachel Hollars
I really like learning with the videos. I have studied using other methods and it was very hard to put what you were learning into context. With the videos, not only are you learning new vocabulary, you are seeing how it is used. For example the tone which is used, the body language of the person using the phrase and the reaction to the phrase being said.
- Frederick Calestini
I love how I get to see videos, listen to music and learn about real and relevant aspects of the Chinese culture. I enjoy seeing faces in those videos of actors and people that I can recognize from other programs outside of Fluent U - which again tells me that the materials I get are relevant in the real Chinese/Taiwanese culture!
- Aileen Raquel Araúz