In this article, you will:

  • Discover the structure of a formal email in French

  • Understand the different elements of an email

  • Learn how to write a formal email

  • Master salutations, polite phrases, and other key elements

This article will help you answer the following questions:

  • What is the structure of a formal email in French?

  • How to write the subject, the body of the message, salutations, and polite phrases?

  • What are the best practices for a formal email?


The structure of a formal email in French:

The structure of a formal email in French

The sender (l'expéditeur) is the one who writes and sends the email

The subject (l'objet) is a brief summary in very few words of the purpose of the email.

The recipient (le destinataire) is the person to whom the email is sent.

The greeting phrase (la formule de salutation) is used to greet and address the recipient. It allows for initial contact with the recipient.

The body of the message (le corps du message) is where you explain the purpose of your email.

The closing phrase (la formule de politesse) is a sentence or formal sentences to conclude the email.

The signature (la signature) includes your first and last name, possibly your position in the company, your phone number, and/or your email address as well.

All these elements of the email are very important and they must be in each of your emails.

Now let's see what to write in each part of the email depending on our recipient and the purpose of the email.


The subject of an email in French:

The subject must be clear and concise. We must have an idea of the purpose, the goal of the email in a few words.


Here are some examples of email subjects:

Candidature pour … (Application for ...)

Prise de rendez-vous (Appointment scheduling)

Réclamation : problème … (Complaint: issue ...)

Invitation à … (Invitation to ...)

Annulation de … (Cancellation of ...)

Demande de …. (Request for ...)

Proposition de … (Proposal of ...)

Document(s) … (Documents for ...)

Envoi de … (Sending of ...)

Suite à … (Following our ...)


Greeting phrases:

If we know the gender of the person, we can say Madame, if it's a woman


or Monsieur, if it's a man.


We can sometimes also add the person's name, especially if we know the person, if we have already seen them.

Madame Milot,

Monsieur Dupont,

If we do not know to whom we are addressing. For example, you have to send an email to Well, it's me who will answer you, but you are not 100% sure. In this case, we start with:

Madame, Monsieur,


If you write to a person who holds a position, a significant hierarchical title, for example, you can write:

Madame la directrice (Madam Director)

Monsieur le Maire (Mr. Mayor)


If you write to several people, to several recipients, you can write:

Mesdames, (Ladies,)

Messieurs, (Gentlemen,)

Mesdames, Messieurs, (Ladies and Gentlemen,)


The body of the message:


So, the body of the message will necessarily be different depending on the objective of the email.

But, we will see several very useful formulas for writing your emails in French.

Before that, some tips for writing your formal emails in French.

  • Make short sentences. Be clear and concise. You might want to be sophisticated in your emails, to add plenty of connectors and complex words, but I advise against it. Go straight to the point. Make simple sentences. Your recipient will understand your emails a hundred times better.
  • Space out your text. Use spaces, go to the next line. It is much more pleasant to the eye to have a spaced-out email and it will be much more appealing to read.
  • Organize your email with connectors at the beginning of the sentence if relevant. As I said, don't add too much thinking that your email will be more formal. For example, in my email, I used:

  • En effet : pour expliquer ma situation (Indeed: to explain my situation)

  • Par la suite : pour décrire la suite des évènements (Subsequently: to describe the next events)

  • Sauf que : pour indiquer un problème (Except that: to indicate a problem)

  • Use formal language. Do not use familiar language, no slang, especially no verlan. And use the formal "you" (vouvoiement).


Let's see then useful sentences to use in your formal emails in French:


For a job application email:

Je vous présente ma candidature pour le poste de … (I present my application for the position of...)

Suite à votre annonce pour le poste de …, (Following your advertisement for the position of...)

Je me permets de vous envoyer ma candidature pour le poste de … (I am sending you my application for the position of...)

Après avoir pris connaissance de votre annonce, je vous propose ma candidature pour le poste de … (After reading your advertisement, I would like to submit my application for the position of...)


For an email following up on something:

Suite à votre appel, je me permets de … (Following your call, I am writing to...)

Suite à notre entretien, je me permets de … (Following our meeting, I am writing to...)

Suite à votre demande, je me permets de … (Following your request, I am writing to...)


For scheduling an appointment:

Je me permets de vous contacter afin de fixer une date pour … (I am contacting you to set a date for...)

Est-il possible de convenir d’un rendez-vous pour …. (Is it possible to arrange an appointment for...)

Je souhaiterais savoir s’il est possible d’organiser un rendez-vous pour … (I would like to know if it is possible to organize a meeting for...)

Would you be available to arrange an appointment for …?


For indicating a problem, to make a claim:

Je me permets de vous contacter suite à un problème de … (I am contacting you regarding a problem with...)

Par la présente, je vous informe que … (I hereby inform you that...)

Suite à ma commande numéro …, je n’ai toujours pas … (Following my order number..., I still have not...)


For inviting to an event:

J’ai l’honneur de vous inviter à … (I have the honor of inviting you to...)

J’ai le plaisir de vous inviter à … (I am pleased to invite you to...)


For canceling an event or something:

Je suis dans l’obligation d’annuler … (I am obliged to cancel...)

Je suis désolé(e) de vous informer que … (I am sorry to inform you that...)

Je suis dans le regret d’annuler … (I regret to cancel...)


For requesting something:

Je me permets de vous contacter afin de savoir si … (I am contacting you to find out if...)

J’aurais aimé savoir si … (I would like to know if...)

Serait-ce possible de … ? (Would it be possible to...?)

Je vous serais très reconnaissant si vous pouviez … (I would be very grateful if you could...)

Pourrais-je avoir davantage d’informations à propos de / d’… ? (Could I have more information about / regarding...?)


For proposing something:

Suite à …, je vous propose de … (Following..., I suggest that...)

Seriez-vous disponible / d’accord pour … ? (Would you be available / agree to...?)


For sending a document:

Suite à …, vous pouvez trouver en pièce(s) jointe(s) … (Following..., you can find attached...)

Veuillez trouver en pièce(s) jointe(s) … (Please find attached...)

Je vous joins … (I am attaching...)

Vous pouvez trouver ci-joint … (You can find enclosed...)


For sending something:

Suite à …, voici … (Following..., here is...)

Je me permets de vous envoyer … (I am taking the liberty of sending you...)


For thanking:

Je vous remercie de / pour … (I thank you for...)

Je tenais à vous remercier de / pour … (I wanted to thank you for...)

Je vous remercie infiniment de / pour … (I am immensely grateful to you for...)


Polite phrases in emails in French:

Let's finish with the polite phrases.

The most common polite phrases to use in almost all situations:

Bien cordialement (Kind regards)

Sincères salutations (Sincere greetings)

Bien sincèrement (Yours sincerely)

Mes salutations distinguées (My distinguished salutations)

And if it's in a very formal context, an email for a job application or to a superior, you can write:

Je vous prie d’agréer, Madame/Monsieur mes salutations les plus distinguées. (I ask you to accept, Madam/Sir, my most distinguished salutations.)

Veuillez croire, Madame/Monsieur, en l’expression de mes sentiments les plus sincères. (Please believe, Madam/Sir, in the expression of my most sincere feelings.)

Je vous prie de croire, Madame, Monsieur, à l'expression de mes sentiments distingués. (I ask you to believe, Madam, Sir, in the expression of my distinguished feelings.)

Dans l'attente de votre réponse, je vous prie d’agréer, Madame, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations (Awaiting your reply, I ask you to accept, Madam, Sir, my sincere salutations.)