Must-Know Vocabulary for French Restaurant Dining

Know how to pronounce dining terms correctly.

people eating in French restaurant
John Sones Singing Bowl Media/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Knowing how to conduct yourself and order food in a French restaurant can be a little tricky. There are some important differences between restaurants in France and other countries, including what foods are offered and how they are prepared. Even the way dishes are listed on most French menus is a little different. Knowing the terms to use in most French restaurants—and especially learning how to pronounce them correctly—is the key to ensuring that your restaurant experience is enjoyable and that you receive the food you want.

Understanding what your waiter is asking you or what the menu says—from "Qu'est-ce que je vous sers?" (What can I get you?) to "service compris" (tip included)—will soon have your server and others wishing you: "Bon appétit!" (Enjoy your meal!).

French Restaurant Terms and Pronunciations

The table below contains key French restaurant terms followed by their English translations. Click on the French words and phrases to hear how to pronounce them correctly.

French Term

English Translation

commander

to order

Vous avez choisi?

Have you decided?

Que voudriez-vous?  Vous désirez?

What would you like?

Je vous écoute.

What would you like? (Literally, "I'm listening to you.")

Que prenez-vous?

What are you having?

Qu'est-ce que je vous sers?

What can I get you?

Je voudrais...   J'aimerais...

I would like...

Je vais prendre...   Je prends...

I'll have...

Combien coûte...?

How much does ... cost?

C'est à votre goût?

Do you like it? Is everything ok?

 C'est terminé?

Have you finished?

 Ça a été?

Was everything ok?

Je suis...

I am...

allergique à...

allergic to...

diabétique

diabetic

végétarien / végétarienne

vegetarian

végétalien / végétalienne

vegan

Je ne peux pas manger...

I can't eat...

bleusaignant

very rare

rosé

rare

à point

medium-rare

bien cuit

well done

le serveur (not garçon)

waiter

la serveuse

waitress

le/la chef

cook

le menu

fixed-price meal

la carte

menu

à la carte

side order

l'addition

check/bill

le socle

base of credit card machine

le pourboire

tip

service compris

tip included

service non compris

tip not included

A la vôtre!

Cheers!

Bon appétit

Enjoy your meal

défense de fumer

no smoking

les animaux sont interdits

no pets allowed

A Typical French Restaurant Dialogue

Now that you know the key terms you might need to know to dine in a French restaurant, scan the table below to study a typical dialogue that might occur between a server ("serveur") and a student ("étudiant"). The first column lists the speaker, the second gives the French dialogue, and the third provides the English translation.

Serveur

Bonsoir Monsieur/Madame.

Good evening sir/ma'am.

Étudiant

Bonsoir Madame/Monsieur. Je voudrais une table pour trois personnes, pour dîner, s'il vous plaît.

Good evening ma'am/sir. I would like a table for 3, for dinner, please.

Serveur

Vous avez une reservation?

Do you have a reservation?

Étudiant

Non, je n'ai pas de reservation.

No, I don't have a reservation.

Serveur

Pas de problème. Voici une table pour 3 personnes, et voici la carte.

No problem. Here is a table for 3, and here is the menu.

Étudiant

Merci Madame/Monsieur. S'il vous plaît.

Thank you ma'am/sir. Excuse me?

Serveur

Oui Monsieur/Madame ?

Yes sir/ma'am ?

Étudiant

Je voudrais de l'eau.

I would like some water.

Serveur

Oui Monsieur/Madame. Et pour dîner, vous avez choisi ?

Yes sir/ma'am. And for dinner, have you decided?

Étudiant

Je voudrais le menu à 15 Euros.

I would like the set price menu for 15 Euros.

Serveur

Oui. En entrée ?

Yes. For the appetizer?

Étudiant

Je voudrais le paté.

I would like the paté.

Serveur

Et en plat principal.

And for your main course?

Étudiant

Je voudrais le steak frites.

I would like the steak with French fries.

Serveur

Bien Monsieur/Madame, quelle cuisson ?

OK sir/ma'am, how would you like it cooked?

Étudiant

Bien cuit, s'il vous plaît. Non, à point, s'il vous plaît.

Well done please. No, medium rare, please.

Serveur

En dessert?

For dessert? 

Étudiant

Une glace à la vanille. Et, excusez-moi Madame/ Monsieur, où sont les toilettes ?

Vanilla ice cream. And, excuse me ma'am/sir, where is the restroom?

Serveur

Au sous-sol.

In the basement.

Étudiant

Je ne comprends pas. Vous pouvez répéter s'il vous plaît ?

I don't understand. Could you repeat please?

Serveur

Au sous sol. Vous descendez l'escalier.

In the basement. Go down the stairs.

Étudiant

Oh, je comprends maintenant. Merci.

Ah, now I understand. Thank you.

   

Serveur

Comment vous trouvez votre steak frites ?

How is your steak?

Étudiant

C'est délicieux. C'est parfait.

It's delicious. It's perfect.

   

Étudiant

L'addition s'il vous plaît.

May I have the check, please?

Serveur

Bien Monsieur/Madame. Vous pouvez payer à la caisse.

OK sir/ma'am. You can pay at the register.

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ThoughtCo. "Must-Know Vocabulary for French Restaurant Dining." ThoughtCo, Mar. 23, 2018, thoughtco.com/french-restaurant-vocabulary-1371367. ThoughtCo. (2018, March 23). Must-Know Vocabulary for French Restaurant Dining. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/french-restaurant-vocabulary-1371367 ThoughtCo. "Must-Know Vocabulary for French Restaurant Dining." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/french-restaurant-vocabulary-1371367 (accessed May 25, 2018).