“Good Night” in French: 10 Essential Expressions with Audio
Good manners in French are a cultural necessity, from deciding between tu and vous to using the right phrases for small talk.
These basic pleasantries include knowing how to greet someone at any time of the day—including when the sun goes down.
Here are the five best ways to say “good night” in French, along with five other phrases you might use for your French nighttime greetings and send-offs.
- 1. Bonsoir — Good evening
- 2. Bonne soirée — Have a good evening
- 3. Bonne nuit — Good night
- 4. Faites de beaux rêves — Sweet dreams
- 5. Dormez bien — Sleep well
- 6. À demain — See you tomorrow
- 7. Au lit ! — Bedtime!
- 8. Aller au lit — To go to bed
- 9. Se coucher — To put oneself to bed
- 10. Couchez-vous — Go to bed
1. Bonsoir — Good evening
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that the word bonjour is a combination of the words bon (good) and jour (day).
The same rule applies to the greeting bonsoir, where the word soir means “evening” or “night.”
The definition of “evening” in French can be pretty flexible, depending on factors like the person you’re talking to or the time of year. You can actually use bonsoir from 4 PM to 10 PM!
Bonsoir, Catherine, ça va ? (Good evening, Catherine, how are you?)
2. Bonne soirée — Have a good evening
Bonsoir and bonne soirée might sound similar, but there is one important difference.
Bonsoir is a greeting that’s said as soon as one enters a room and launches into a conversation. On the other hand, when you or someone else is about to leave a room and exchange goodbyes, you would say bonne soirée.
Bonne soirée is also used when people are still awake or going out for the evening. You likely won’t hear this phrase or even use it on someone retiring for the evening.
Je pars, bonne soirée ! (I’m leaving, have a good evening!)
3. Bonne nuit — Good night
While bonsoir is acceptable anytime after midday, the same can’t be said for the phrase bonne nuit. Bonne nuit directly translates to “good night,” so it’s only appropriate to use once you see stars.
Unlike bonne soirée, bonne nuit is exclusively used when someone is going to bed. This is not your go-to phrase when the other person is about to head to dinner or a night out.
Bonne nuit tout le monde, je me couche. (Goodnight everyone, I’m going to bed.)
4. Faites de beaux rêves — Sweet dreams
Of course, you would only say this phrase when someone is going to sleep!
Fais de beaux rêves has formal and informal versions, which use the vous and tu conjugations of the verb faire (to do) respectively. For example, if you were speaking to a significant other or child, you would use the tu form: fais de beaux rêves. If you were speaking to someone you’re not familiar with or to several people, the vous form would be more suitable: faites de beaux rêves.
Bonne nuit, mon amour. Fais de beaux rêves. (Goodnight my love. Sweet dreams.)
Bonne nuit mes enfants. Faites de beaux rêves. (Goodnight my children. Sweet dreams.)
5. Dormez bien — Sleep well
Here is another expression for when the person you’re speaking to is going to bed.
Like the previous phrase, it has a formal and informal version, indicated by the conjugation of the verb dormir (to sleep). The tu form dors is the informal version, while the vous form dormez is the formal version. If ever in doubt about which version is suitable, play it safe by using the vous form.
Dors bien Mathieu. (Sleep well, Mathieu.)
Dormez bien Monsieur. (Sleep well, Sir.)
6. À demain — See you tomorrow
À demain isn’t only for nighttime or when someone’s about to sleep—you can use it at any time of the day.
Similar to bonne soirée, it’s a parting phrase. The word demain means tomorrow, so it has a sense of finality: you won’t see the other person until tomorrow.
À demain, je vais au lit. (See you tomorrow, I’m going to bed.)
7. Au lit ! — Bedtime!
Whether you’re looking for a cutesy way to send an energetic child to bed or a harsh command to punish a petulant teenager, this expression works. The word lit means bed, so it literally translates to “in bed” or “to bed.” And the interpretation can change based on how you say it!
Les enfants ! Au lit ! (Kids! Bedtime!)
8. Aller au lit — To go to bed
Aller au lit is the basis for the expression au lit. You can use aller au lit to say that you’re retiring for the evening, without explicitly stating that you’re going to sleep. Still, it does lean closer to implying that you’re about to sleep rather than going to bed and staying awake.
Je suis fatiguée. Je vais au lit. (I’m tired. I’m going to bed.)
9. Se coucher — To put oneself to bed
If you’re going to talk about going to bed, you can’t do so without the verb se coucher, or even coucher. But they’re not the same!
Se coucher is a reflexive verb, and its meaning varies depending on the subject of the sentence. For example, if the subject is a person, it means to put oneself to bed. However, if the subject is the sun, it means the sun setting.
The verb coucher is about putting something or someone else to bed. Unlike the reflexive verb, the subject and object of the sentence are not the same.
If you were to say coucher avec, though, it can have both a perfectly innocent meaning and a sexual connotation. So for just talking about sleeping, maybe stick with se coucher to be safe.
Je suis fatigué. Je me couche. (I’m tired. I’m going to bed.)
10. Couchez-vous — Go to bed
Despite the minefield that is the word coucher, turning this verb into a command is much simpler. All it requires is the formal and informal conjugation of the verb: the vous and tu forms, respectively.
In practice, if you want to tell an older family member to go lie down, you would say couchez-vous. But if you were trying to discipline a petulant teenager, you would likely use couche-toi.
Grand-mère, vous êtes malade. Couchez-vous. (Grandma, you’re sick. Go to bed.)
Paul, donne-moi ton portable et couche-toi ! (Paul, give me your phone and go to bed!)
Whether it’s the crack of dawn or late in the evening, the French love their greetings. The phrases above are used a lot in spoken French, so they’re very handy to remember!
To pick up more conversational phrases like these, you can watch French videos on FluentU. As an immersion program, it teaches French through native clips from movies, TV shows, interviews, and more. The interactive subtitles let you check word definitions while watching, and you can even look up French expressions to see how they work in different contexts.
So go ahead and practice! The phrases above will come in handy whether you’re getting ready for a night out or cozying up for a night in.