You’re in France and you want to do as the French do.
What better way to experience la vie en rose than in cafés, bars, and discothèques?
After studying common French behaviors and becoming more adjusted to French life, you’re probably dying to have a celebratory night on the town with friends while abroad. If you’re self-studying French at home, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing a bit of France to your home country’s nightlife.
Here are some essential French phrases, best accompanied by your drink of choice and some friendly Frenchmen!
En soirée: Essential French Phrases for Nightlife
Get the night started
Tu fais quoi ce soir ?
What are you doing tonight?
How can you start your evening if you don’t know where the party will be? This simple yet efficient phrase is all you need to find the best bars and clubs for the night! You can also ask “Tu vas sortir ce soir ?” or, “Are you going out tonight?”
Ça te dit d’aller boire un verre ?
Do you want to get a drink?
This is another phrase that will be sure to get your night started. Although sometimes used as a pick-up line or to ask someone out on a date, it is just as common for friends to ask one another this question. The time to get a drink could start as early as 5 pm or so, or the l’heure de l’apéro (pre-dinner drink time).
Desirez-vous un apéritif ?
Would you like an aperitif?
A waiter at a café or restaurant might ask this in the late afternoon or early evening. A French apéritif is traditionally a drink such as a pastis, kir, or porto meant to whet the appetite. Among young people, to prendre l’apéro is a fun, informal way to slowly start a night of partying. An apéro can take place at a bar or café, but also at someone’s home. In additional to traditional aperitifs, you can also have beer, wine, or even cocktails.
Est-ce que vous avez des petites choses à grignoter ?
Do you have anything to snack on?
As in the US, French bars will often offer small things to eat while you enjoy your afternoon or evening drinks. Take a look at these regional French food items that may appear during your nighttime adventures. You can also ask “Est-ce que vous avez des chips ou des cacahuètes ?” (Do you have any chips or peanuts?) These are the most common bar snacks, but other places may offer cornichons (pickles), olives, or even saucisson (cured sausage).
Je voudrais une pinte de blonde.
I would like a pint of pale ale, please.
Blonde beers are the most common in France, and this designation usually refers to the color rather than the kind of beer. Leffe and 1664 are two very popular beers in France. You can also ask for un demi, which is a half pint.
Je prends un verre de rosé, s’il vous plaît.
I’ll have a glass of rosé please.
Rosé is a popular wine for the summer time, drunk cold. You can also ask for a verre de blanc/rouge (glass of white or red).
On va prendre la bouteille.
We’ll take the bottle!
On peut avoir la même chose, s’il vous plaît ?
Another round please!
Literally meaning, “Can we have the same thing, please?” this phrase is the most simple for asking another round from the waiter. If you’re feeling generous and want to pay the next round you would say, “Je paye ma tournée !” If you want to ask the waiter for just your drink, you can say, “Encore un autre, s’il vous plaît.”
Il est très mignon, le barman !
The bartender is really cute!
Another reason to pay your round!
On va prendre des shooters !
We’re going to take shots!
When you would like to trinquer (toast) someone there are many ways to express this feeling of joy and celebration in the French way!
À la votre !
To yours (your health)! – formal or to several people
À la tienne !
Informal, to one person
Tchin tchin !
Literally: clink clink – when you don’t actually go around the table clinking glasses, this is useful!
On s’installe sur les quais ?
Let’s go sit on the quays?
Another popular summer activity in Paris is to picnic and drink on the quays of Seine or the Canal St. Martin. As soon as the warm weather hits, hoards of young (and not so young!) Parisians will hit the banks of the canals with their bottles of wine, baguettes, and saucisson. As the sun sets quite late, this is an activity that can last for hours, with people coming and going. It is, however, advisable to arrive earlier rather than later as the more popular spots become crowded very quickly.
Je vais organiser une pique-nique au Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.
I’m going to organize a picnic at the Buttes-Chaumont park.
Another great thing to do in Paris in the summertime is picnic in one of the many parks. Many have later hours during the summertime, and will stay open until the sun goes down. Like the quays, the parks will fill up with Parisians looking to enjoy their apéro under the sun. Knowing some important summertime vocabulary will take you a long way while out enjoying the parks.
On va danser en boîte ?
Let’s go dance at the club?
And after the bar, Seine, or the park it’s time for the boîte de nuit, or nightclub, or discothèque. In France, these usually are open much later than bars, which close at 2 am. The nightclubs won’t start to fill up until after midnight, and can stay open until 6 am or later. This seems late, but, especially in Paris, many hard-core partygoers will stay out until the first metro starts running at 5:30 am.
Je me suis fait dragué(e) par le videur !
I got hit on by the bouncer!
Je sors fumer une clope.
I’m going out for a cigarette.
Une clope is slang for a cigarette. Don’t forget, learning key slang words is the best way to sound more natural in your new language. Unless there is a fumoir (smoking room)to enjoy one, you’ll have to go outside of the bar or club. But you’ll have lots of company! An easy way to strike up a conversation is to ask for a light: “Vous avez du feu ?” (Literally – do you have fire?)
Je veux pas être trop bourré(e).
I don’t want to get too drunk.
You can also say you don’t want to be too “soûle“, or that you don’t want to be ivre-mort(e), dead drunk.
Il aime bien picoler !
He likes drinking a little too much!
To picoler means to drink, but a little too often, and a little too much.
Non, il aime juste faire la fête !
No, he just likes to party!
Il y a une grosse teuf chez ma copine.
There’s a big party at my friend’s house.
Teuf is the verlan (French slang that features the inversion of syllables) for fête, or party.
Est-ce qu’il y a un after?
Is there is an after-party?
The end of the night
Je vais rentrer, amusez-vous bien !
I’m going home, have fun!
If you feel like going home and your friends want to keep going, make sure to wish them a good time!
Je suis fatigué(e), j’y vais.
I’m tired, I’m going.
Sometimes your friends need to be convinced to let you leave. Make sure you have a good excuse ready:
Il faut que je sois raisonnable, je travaille demain ! I have to be reasonable, I’m working tomorrow!
On va prendre un taxi.
We’re going to take a taxi.
In Paris, there are usually taxi stations near the metro or bus stops. You can also flag them down. There are also night buses that run until the metro starts.
Nous, on attends le métro !
We’re going to wait for the metro!
Rentrez-bien, bonne soirée !
Get home safe, good night!
The next day
Ooh la, j’ai la gueule de bois.
An unpleasant experience that does not escape the French, being hungover is to literally have a “wooden mouth”. You can also say that you have a headache. J’ai mal à la tête.Ça va ? Pas trop difficile ce matin ? How are you? Wasn’t too hard this morning?
It’s always nice to have a friend check on the state of your hangover.
On s’est bien amusés hier ! À refaire très bientôt !
We had a great time last night! Let’s do it again very soon!
And there you go! You’re ready to let loose, French-style. Using French in the setting of a bar or club is a great test of comfort with the language, as there is the music, slang, and the way people talk while out to contend with. So, start now! There’s no better (or more fun!) way to get to French fluency.
Tchin tchin !
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