Writing a Business Letter in French

Use the Example to Get Started on Your Own Letter

Writing a job letter (une lettre d'emploi) in French can be a challenge. You need to be professional, but if you're still learning the language, this can be difficult to convey. At times, it is best to look at an example so you know where to begin.

When writing the letter, remember to be as polite as possible and follow the formula outlined in this sample. With a little attention to the details, like the salutation and opening of your letter, you will be constructing great correspondence in no time.

Sample French Business Letter (Correspondance commerciale)

The intention of the following letter is to give you an outline for using business letter formulas in French. The various sections are notated by [ ] and it is much easier if you construct the letter piece by piece.

You can use this sample as a template for your own letter. Simply replace the sentences as needed to fit your particular requirements. The formula works well for job applications as well as other types of formal business correspondence. 

New York, le 10 novembre 2012

Monsieur Georges UNTEL
Entreprise fictive
46, rue Jenesaisquoi
12345 UNEVILLE
Sonpays

Monsieur Untel [salutation],

J'ai l'honneur de vous informer [open letter] que j'ai bien reçu votre lettre du 6 novembre 2000 [confirm receipt]. C'est avec plaisir [express pleasure] que j'accepte le poste de traductrice de votre site web que vous m'offrez [accept/refuse offer].

Je regrette vivement de ne pas pouvoir commencer immédiatement [express regret]. Je serais disponible à partir du 20 novembre [availability/contact info]. J'espère que vous voudrez bien me faire savoir si cette date vous conviendra [make request].

En vous remerciant de la confiance que vous me témoignez [pre-close], je vous prie d'agréer, Monsieur Untel, l'assurance de ma considération distinguée [close].

Laura K. Lawless
mon adresse, mon numéro de téléphone et cetera

Salutations (Les saluts)

Just as it is in English, the salutation you use in the letter is extremely important. Your choice will leave an impression on the reader that may influence how they interpret the rest of the letter. Be sure to choose wisely and use the appropriate address.

It would be impossible to list every possible title, but this list should give you an idea of how to address your letter.

Monsieur, MadameTo whom it may concern
MessieursDear Sirs
MonsieurDear Sir
MadameDear Madam
MademoiselleDear Miss
Monsieur le DirecteurDear Director
Monsieur le MinistreDear Minister
Monsieur/Madame le* Professeur Dear Professor...
Cher/Chère + salutationUsed only if you know the person that you are writing to

Note: The exact salutation that you use to begin your letter must be used in your closing formula.

* In so-called "standard" French, the word professeur is always masculine. However in Québec and parts of Switzerland, there is a feminine version: la professeure, so pay attention to the country of the person you are addressing.

Opening the Letter (Pour commencer la lettre)

As important as the salutation, your opening sentence sets the tone for the letter. Compose this carefully or the reader may not bother reading the entire thing. 

The following phrases are good choices when your letter's intent is to inquire about employment. They cover most job application situations, from responding to an advertisement to inquiring about open positions at a company.

Je me réfère à votre annonce parue dans...With reference to your advertisement in...
Me référant à votre annonce...In reply to your advertisement...
Votre annonce parue dans... a retenu toute mon attention. Your ad in... caught my attention.
Je me permets de poser ma candidature pour le poste de... / au poste de...I wish to apply for the post of...
Je vous serais très reconnaissant(e) de...I would be very grateful if you could...
...bien vouloir m'envoyer des renseignements plus complets sur le poste de...... send me more information about the position of...
...me faire savoir s'il me serait possible d'obtenir un emploi dans votre entreprise....tell me if there is any possibility of work in your company.