Au Marché - Do's and Don'ts And French Expressions

Learn French Expressions Used on Markets and Fit in


Today, I’ll take you to the Paimpol’s open air market with me.

Going to the Market in France

Going to the market in France is something many tourists do, and it’s a good opportunity to practice your French (in particular all the expressions of quantity and partitive articles which we studied a couple of weeks ago - make sure you review them before studying this story) .

However, it can be a bit surprising since merchants have their own way of speaking, with many colloquial expressions which students of French usually don’t know.


Typical French Market Expressions

I used many of these expressions such as “qu’est-ce que ce sera” or “à qui le tour” in this dialog. I will certainly be writing many more “Learn French in Context” stories taking place at the market, so make sure you subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get alerted of the new lessons.

French Market Do's and Dont's

When you go to a French open-air market, you should always bring some change. Most merchants won’t accept credit cards, and they may not be able to break a large bill either.

They'll often ask you: "est-ce que vous avez la monnaie ?" (do you have the change?). If you don't, then say: "non, désolé(e), je n'ai que ça" (No, sorry, I only have this).

Produce on French Markets

Usually, the merchant will pick the produce for you, and hand it to you in a paper bag.  So you should bring a basket or a larger bag.

You can politely refuse a fruit/vegetable saying: “celui-ci est trop mûr” (this one is too ripe) for example.


Labels on the produce should tell you the price, and also the origins.

Be careful that many merchants do not sell local produces, so open you eyes and don’t hesitate to inquire some more: “vos produits viennent d’où ?” (where are your produce from?”)

Where is the Line in French Markets?

Finding where the line start is not always obvious.

So don't hesitate to ask : "où est la queue ?" (where is the line - pronounced just like "que").

Should some French person cut in front of you, defend yourself and say: "je suis désolé(e) mais je pense que c'est mon tour" (I'm sorry but I believe it's my turn) or "il me semble que la queue est là-bas" (It seems to me that the line is over there).

General Attitude on French Markets

Of course, be polite, and don’t forget to smile!

The open-air market is a fun place, people like to joke around, speak loud, and flirting lightly with the customer of the opposite sex is not uncommon. 

And now let's practice your French Market Vocabulary with my learn French in context story "Au marché".

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