If you go to France, you're bound to come across lots of French people (logic đŸ€“ ). All those French people you're going to meet, you'll have to greet them. That's where it gets complicated !

How do you greet someone in French? What words do we use to say hello depending on the person and the time of day? Saying hello to someone in France becomes a rather complex algorithm. But, don't worry, I will give you the solution to know when and how to say hello in France.

GIF algorithme


#What are the words we use to greet each other in France ?

  • Bonjour (/bɔ̃.ʒuʁ/)

"Bonjour" is the most common word used to greet a person in France. From a common language level, "bonjour" is used in everyday life, from sunrise to the beginning of the end of the day.

Saying "bonjour" is a mark of politeness and it is well considered.

💡 Information utile : "Bonjour" is used in everyday situations, for example when you enter a shop or when you arrive at work or when you meet someone you know. The word "bonjour" can also be used in formal virtual conversations, for example if you send an e-mail to a colleague or your banker.



  • Bonsoir (/bɔ̃swaʁ/)

"Bonsoir" is used in the same way as "bonjour", except that it is used at the end of the day and in the evening.

You can use this word in everyday life, for example in the evening when you enter a store or restaurant.

💡 Information utile : You can also use the word "bonsoir" in a formal virtual conversation, if it takes place at the end of the day.



  • Salut (/saly/)

"Salut" is used to greet someone you know very well and with whom you are close. This can be your friends, family members and also colleagues if you are close enough.

You're not sure if you can say "salut" to a person? Let them greet you first, and depending on what they say "salut", "bonjour", "bonsoir", etc., answer them the same way.

💡 Information utile : You can also use "salut" in a message or email conversation with people close to you. The word "salut" is part of the familiar language register. You can use "salut" at any time of day.



  • Coucou (/kuku/)

"Coucou" should be used with people who are very close to you : your friends and family members.

It's a word that is part of the familiar language register. 

💡 Information utile : It can also be used at any time of the day and in virtual conversations.



Greet each other in French
The different ways to greet each other in France


#What are the gestures we use to say hello in France ?

  • Shaking hands đŸ€

In France, to say hello it is possible to shake hands. The majority of men shake hands to greet each other, whether in a family, friendly or professional environment. Women shake hands with people they don't know or don't know well, in professional and formal settings.



  • To say hi with the hand đŸ‘‹

To say hello, we can say hello to each other. Usually, you wave to someone you see in the distance or someone you pass in your car.

Waving hello is a gesture that remains familiar and is best done to people you know well, such as friends and family members.



  • Kissing each other on the cheek đŸ˜™

The most famous way to say hello in France is the famous la bise. In France, everyone kisses each other (on the cheek) : women to each other, women and men, and sometimes men to each other.

La bise remains an equally familiar gesture to do with friends and family.

La bise can be done with your colleagues, and sometimes even with your superiors (depending on the company policy).



  • To have five 👏

Shaking hands to greet each other is a fairly recent gesture and used by young people, for a question of style 😎. This gesture is familiar and should only be used with friends and family members.



Say hello in French
Les gestes pour se dire bonjour en France
*Gestures to say hello in France*


The words and gestures we use to say hello in France now hold no secrets for you. You are totally ready to greet and say hello to everyone on your next trip to France 😉

See you soon for new adventures, in French of course! đŸ‡«đŸ‡·

Don't forget to test your understanding of the article by taking the test below. Share your result as a comment! 😃

âŹ‡ïž âŹ‡ïž