How to Say Goodbye in French
If you are going on a trip to France, or some other French speaking part of the world, it will involve a few goodbyes and some “later ‘gaters” (until next time in proper English ), so it’s imperative that you know some phrases to help you say those goodbyes. Besides, if you are going to France itself, it always helps to have a few French phrases ready as the French really appreciate when you at the very least attempt to speak their language, however badly. They think not attempting to do it at all is a lot worse than trying and failing. To them it seems arrogant to come to their country and not even attempt to speak their language.
The most straightforward way of saying goodbye is a simple “au revoir,” which directly translated means something like “to see again” (“voir” means see).
“Salut” is another informal way of saying good bye. “Salut” is one of those funny words that have a lot of different meanings. It’s used both as an informal way of saying “hi” and “bye” (or “cheers,” if you so like). It also, depending on the situation, means “salute,” “nod,” “wave,” “safety” and “salvation.”
“Adieu” is a much more formal way of saying goodbye and as it means “to god” it’s a more permanent farewell in most cases. It was used more in the past, whereas now it’s mostly something you say at a funeral. “Adieu” also means “giving up” or “quitting.”
Other Ways of Saying Goodbye
Often when we say bye to someone, we don’t actually say goodbye, instead we say “have a good day” or some other such phrase, so it’s useful to know this phrases too. In French, “have a good day” translates to “bonne journée.”
If it’s evening you’d say “goodnight” instead, which translates to “bonne soirée.”
If You Met Someone on the Road
If you met someone on the road and are parting ways, or they are going traveling, you can say “bon voyage” or “bonnes vaccances” as a means of saying goodbye. The former means “good trip/journey” which indirectly translates to “have a good trip.” The latter means “good vacation” basically wishing them a nice vacation.
If It’s Not Goodbye
Many times we do not wish to say goodbye, but rather “see you soon” which translates to “à bientôt,” or “à la prochaine.”
You can also say “à plus tard,” or “à tout à l’heure,” which means “see you later.”
If you are seeing someone in just a minute, or so, then “à tout de suite” is the correct expression to use. For example, if you’re just running round the corner to grab a coffee and will then return to the office, you might say “à tout de suite.” .
If you know you’ll see someone the next day, then “à demain” is the phrase to use.
Lastly, if you are seeing someone the same night, then “à ce soir,” means, loosely translated, “see you tonight.”
I’m Outta Here
If you’re leaving a party, or saying bye to a group of friends at the end of the day, you can use the phrase “je m’en vais” which means “I’m outta here.” Other expressions you could use in a situation like that are “je me en casse” and “je me tire” which mean, more or less, “I’m off.” Not something you’d say in a formal setting, but definitively something you’d use in more informal situations.
Stealing from the Italians
As the story goes, if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. And Italian is a pretty darn sexy language. Not surprisingly so is French as they’re closely related. However, the French still decided to steal from the Italians and use “ciao” when saying goodbye, then again, so do the Swedes. It appears to be a bit of an international epidemic use “ciao” as a word for goodbye.
If you’re planning a trip to France, then read up on some key phrases, like how to say hi and bye, how to thank someone, how to ask for help, etc. Maybe take two or three classes in French in addition to this, to feel you master some very, very basic stuff. The French will be much more happy to speak with you if you at the very least try using some French. It shows respect if you try using the language of the country you’re visiting.
Once you’ve mastered a few phrases, watching French movies will help you get a feel for the sound of the language, so as to get the pronunciation right. Don’t be ashamed to speak just because you don’t get it right though – it’s the effort that counts. The effort and the smile that goes with it.
Maybe the most important thing when traveling is your own attitude. Approaching people with a smile helps, as does being genuinely grateful to those who help you, be it the ticket salesman, or the receptionist at your hotel. You also need to remember to ask for help whenever you need it. There is always someone who will help a traveler out if you end up in a situation where you don’t know what to do next. So never be afraid to ask for assistance along the way.