How to Say Hello in French: 39 Easy Ways (with Audio)

Wondering how to say hello in French?

Whether you’re planning a trip to France or looking to move here, knowing how to greet people is an essential skill to have. Not only does it show that you’ve tried to learn some French before arriving, but locals will also appreciate it.

I studied French for more than six years, and I’m fluent, so I know all the little nuances when greeting people. Not only that but because I live in France I also know the most common expressions in everyday life.

And, today, I want to share with you my knowledge of the French language and all the different ways to say “hello” in French. I’ve even included pronunciation tips to help you sound like a local.

How to Say Hi in French
How to Say Hi in French

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Quick Guide: How to Say Hello in French

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick guide on how to say hello in French.

  • Bonjour (bohn-jhoor) – Good morning
  • Bonsoir (bohn-swahr) – Good evening
  • Salut (sah-loo) – Hi (used in informal settings)

Informal Ways to Say Hello in French

When it comes to saying “hi” in French, there are several informal ways of greeting someone. These can be used with friends, family, or in any laid-back setting.

And, when I first moved to France and started learning French in 2013, I found these phrases easier to start with.

So, let’s dive into the different ways to informally say “hi” in French.

1. Salut

Salut is one of the most common ways to greet someone informally
Salut

Pronunciation: sah-loo

“Salut” is a casual way of saying “hello” or “hi” in French. Unlike bonjour, salut should only be used once you’ve established a rapport with the other person. “Salut” is a casual way of saying “hello” or “hi” in French. Unlike bonjour, salut should only be used once you’ve established a rapport with the other person.

It can also serve as an informal goodbye when leaving friends or colleagues for the day.

2. Salut toi

Pronunciation: sah-lu-twah 

“Salut toi” is a very popular way of saying “hello” in France. And it’s even more informal than salut. It translates to “Hi, you.” So, you don’t want to use it with someone you don’t know.

This is my go-to phrase when I see a friend that I haven’t seen in awhile.

3. Bonjour

Pronunciation: bohn-jhoor

“Bonjour” is one of the most common and versatile ways to say “hi” in French during the day. It should always be used when first meeting someone or when greeting them after an absence. Whether you’re speaking with friends, colleagues, family, or strangers, bonjour can be used with anyone.

This was the first word I learned when I started studying in French. It’s easy to pronounce and remember.

4. Re-bonjour

Pronunciation: re-bohn-jhoor

If you’ve already said “bonjour” to someone you wouldn’t say it again. Instead, you would say “re-bonjour,” which means “hi again.”

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5. Bonsoir

Pronunciation: bohn-swahr

“Bonsoir” is another common way to say “hello” in French and is typically used during the evening or at night. It’s a polite greeting that can be used in any setting.

6. Bonjour tout le monde

Pronunciation: bohn-jhoor too-le-mond

“Bonjour tout le monde” or “hello everyone” is used to address a group of people. It’s a way to be casual in a formal setting.

As an example, my French teacher would always start the class with “Bonjour tout le monde!”.

7. Bonjour la compagnie

Pronunciation: bohn-jhoor-la-kohm-pahn-yee

“Bonjour la compagnie” is more familiar than “bonjour tout le monde.” It’s usually used to say “hi” to a group of friends.

8. Comment vas-tu?

Comment vas-tu is an informal way to say hi in French
Comment vas-tu?

Pronunciation: como-vah-tu

In France, the phrase “Comment vas-tu?” is a casual way of saying “hi,” but not as informal as salut. It translates as “How are you doing?” and implies that you’re interested in hearing what they have been up to.

Using this greeting shows that you care about how the other person is doing. It’s also a great conversation starter.

9. Tu vas bien?

Pronunciation: tu-va-be-unh

The phrase “Tu vas bien?” is a casual way of asking someone how they are doing. It’s more informal than “Comment vas-tu?”.

In English, it means “Are you doing well?”.

This friendly greeting can be used with friends, family, or colleagues. It implies that you’re interested in hearing how they’ve been and usually leads to a more in-depth conversation.

10. Quoi de neuf?

Pronunciation: quah-du-nuff

“Quoi de neuf?” is one of the most informal ways to say “hello” in France. It means “What’s new?” and can be used with friends or family.

The phrase implies that you’re interested in hearing what they’ve been up to since your last meeting. It’s also a great way to start a lighthearted conversation.

11. Quoi de beau?

Quoi de beau is a very casual greeting
Quoi de beau?

Pronunciation: quah-du-bo

“Quoi de beau?” is used in the same context as “Quoi de neuf?”, but it’s not as popular.

You can use it with friends or family as a casual way of asking “What’s new?”.

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12. Ça roule?

Pronunciation: sa-rule

In France, you can use the phrase “Ça roule?” to greet someone in a casual way. This phrase is often used among your close friends and family.

It translates literally as “How’s it rolling?” or “What’s up?” and implies that you’re interested in hearing what they’ve been up to since your last meeting.

Useful Tip: When “ça roule” is not in the form of a question, it can be used to agree with someone.

13. Comment ça va?

Pronunciation: como-sa-vah

The direct translation of “Comment ça va?” is “How’s it going?”, which makes it a versatile greeting that can be used in many contexts. Using this phrase shows that you are interested in the well-being of the person you’re greeting. It often leads to further conversation about what has been going on in both of your lives.

14. Ça va?

Pronunciation: sah-vah

“Ça va?” is the shortened version of “Comment ça va?”. And it’s more informal.

You wouldn’t use this greeting and then expect to have a conversation with someone. It’s meant to be a quick way to say “hi.”

15. Ça baigne?

Pronunciation: sah-banyuh

“Ça baigne?” is another way to say “Ça va?”.

If you want locals to be impressed with your French, this phrase will do just that. It’s even worth visiting France just to try it out!

This phrase implies that you want to know how someone is doing in a more laid-back way. However, it should not be used in any formal setting or when first meeting someone.

16. Ça gaze?

Pronunciation: sah-gaz

“Ça gaze?” is yet another way to say “Ça va?”.

It’s very informal and should only be used with your peers.

17. Ça fait longtemps!

Pronunciation: sah-feh-lun-ton

“Ça fait longtemps!” is a popular way of greeting someone. It translates to “It’s been a while!” and implies that you’re glad to see them.

18. Allô

Allo is a way to greet someone in the phone in France
Allô

Pronunciation: ah-low

Allô means hello and can be used in many different situations. It’s most commonly used when answering the phone, but it can also be used as an informal way of saying “hello.”

Useful Tip: Allô is usually followed by the name of the person you’re speaking to.

19. Salut mon grand/salut ma grande

Pronunciation: sah-lu-mon-gran/sah-lu-mah-grand

This is the most common way to say “hi” to a child. In English, it means “hey kiddo.”

“Salut mon grand” is the masculine version while “salut ma grande” is the feminine form.

20. Salut ma puce

Pronunciation: sah-lu-mah-puce

“Salut ma puce” is used to say “hi” to your own children or, in my case, my cat. It means “hi sweetheart.”

21. Coucou

Pronunciation: coo-coo

Coucou is a playful, lighthearted greeting that can be used with friends and family but should not be used when meeting someone for the first time.

22. Salut ma belle

Pronunciation: sah-lu-mah-bell

“Salut ma belle” is an outdated greeting that means “hello beautiful” in French.

Today, it’s considered sexist and should never be used.

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23. Wesh

Pronunciation: wesh

“Wesh” is an informal version of “salut.” And it’s only used by teenagers.

24. Yo

Pronunciation: yo

“Yo” is even more informal than “wesh.” It’s similar to the English version of “yo.” So, if you were to use this with an adult, it would be considered impolite.

Formal Ways to Say Hello in French

While there are a ton of ways to informally say “hi” in French, the number of formal ways is much less. But they are far more polite.

If you don’t know which to use always default to the formal version so you don’t accidentally offend someone.

Below are all the ways to formally say “hi” in French.

25. Bonjour Monsieur/Madame

Bonjour Monsieur/Madame is a very formal way to say hello in French
Bonjour Monsieur/Madame

Pronunciation: bohn-jhoor meuh-sieur/ma-dam

“Bonjour Monsieur/Madame” is more formal than just using bonjour. You would use this phrase with someone you don’t know or if you want to be extremely polite.

Useful Tip: Monsieur is for those who identify as male while Madame is for those who identify as female.

26. Mesdames et Messieurs, Bonjour

Pronunciation: medam ay me-sieur bohn-jhoor

This is the plural version of “bonjour monsieur/madame.” It’s only used if there is more than one person.

“Messieurs bonjour” is the plural masculine version while “mesdames bonjour” is the plural feminine version.

If there is a mix, use “mesdames et messieurs, bonjour.”

27. Enchanté(e)

Pronunciation: ahn-shant-ay

In France, the phrase “Enchanté(e)” is a polite way of saying “hello” and introducing yourself to someone. 

It translates to “enchanted” or “delighted” and implies that you are pleased to meet them.

When using this expression, it is important to remember that there are two versions: Enchanté (used for males) and Enchantée (used for females). They are pronounced the same so you would only need to worry about the spelling if you were using it in writing.

Useful Tip: If there is one thing I love about French it’s that you can sound elegant with just one word.

28. Ravi(e) de faire votre connaissance

Pronunciation: ravee duh fair vo-truh co-nay-sanse

“Ravi(e) de faire votre connaissance” or “delighted to make your acquaintance” is used as a polite way of saying “hello.” It’s a sign of respect for the other person and implies that you are pleased to meet them.

It’s usually used when first meeting someone or in more formal settings such as business meetings. 

However, it should not be used with close friends or family members since it can come off as overly formal.

Useful Tip: Ravi is the masculine form while ravie is the feminine form. And they are pronounced the same way.

29. Monsieur/Madame

Pronunciation: meuh-sieur/ma-dam

Monsieur/Madame is used when writing a formal letter. If you don’t know who you are writing to then you write “Monsieur, Madame.” If you do know, then you can use either Monsieur (for males) or Madame (for females).

30. Comment allez-vous?

Comment allez-vous is a formal way to greet someone in France
Comment allez-vous?

Pronunciation: como allay-voo

“Comment allez-vous?” is the formal version of “Comment ça va?”. And it means “How are you doing?”. 

It’s used in business settings or with people you’ve met for the first time.

31. Vous allez bien?

Pronunciation: voo-za-le be-unh

“Vous allez bien?” is the formal version of “Tu vas bien?”. Like “Comment allez-vous?”, it’s used in business or with people you don’t know very well.

Useful Tip: “Vous allez bien?” is slightly less formal than “Comment allez-vous?”.

32. Bienvenue

Pronunciation: bee-ehn veh-noo

“Bienvenue” means “welcome.” It’s often used by shop owners, train conductors, or anyone welcoming someone.

As an example, when you board a train in France you might hear the conductor say, “Bienvenue à bord,” which means “Welcome aboard.”

And, contrary to what you might think, it’s not a response to “merci” in French.

Useful Tip: In Quebec, where they speak Québécois French, bienvenue means you’re welcome.

33. Salutation

Pronunciation: sah-lu-ta-syon

This is a very old-fashioned way to say “hi” in French. Today, it’s only used by elderly people.

34. Bonjour, qui est à l’appareil?

Pronunciation: bohn-jhoor key-eh-ah-la-pa·ray

“Bonjour, qui est à l’appareil?” is the formal version of “Allô.” It means “Hello, who’s there?” and it’s only used when answering the phone.

35. Comment puis-je vous aider?

Pronunciation: como pui-juh voo-z-ay-day

“Comment puis-je vous aider?” is a formal way to ask, “How can I help you?”. Someone might ask or greet you with this question in a store, for example.

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Other Ways to Say Hi in French

There are several other ways to say “hi” in French. And these are usually during festive times of the year.

Below is a list of seasonal French greetings.

36. Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël is another way to say hi in French during the holiday season
Joyeux Noël

Pronunciation: juah-yew no-el

Joyeux Noël means Merry Christmas.

In France, the holiday season starts in December and it’s customary to greet someone with “Joyeux Noël” rather than “bonjour.”

This is not phrase you would use at work, especially if your colleagues are not religious. But it is a good phrase to learn if you plan on visiting Strasbourg’s Christmas market.

37. Bonne année

Pronunciation: bon-ahn-ne

“Bonne année” means Happy New Year.

From the first of January until mid-January, you can use “bonne année” as a greeting.

It can be used in both formal and informal settings.

38. Joyeuses fêtes

Pronunciation: Juah-yews fet

“Joyeuses fêtes” means Happy Holidays. It’s usually used during the holiday season at Christmas time.

If I don’t know someone’s religious beliefs, this is the phrase I use. It can also be used at work (unlike Joyeux Noël).

39. Joyeux anniversaire

Pronunciation: juah-yews-ani-vers-air

“Joyeux anniversaire” means Happy Birthday.

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Tips on Using French Greetings

Greetings are an essential part of French culture, and the French language offers an array of ways to say “hello”, depending on the situation.

Here are a few tips to help you understand greeting’s etiquette in France:

✓ In France, it is customary to greet everyone. As an example, if you’re at a grocery store and you need to ask for help, make sure to say “bonjour” before anything else.

✓ Since the language is French, you should always try to say “hi” in French. And, if you can’t remember which expression to use, then try saying “bonjour.” It works is most scenarios.

✓ When meeting friends or acquaintances, the typical greeting is la bise, which is a kiss on one or both cheeks. Depending on the region, la bise can involve one, two, or even three kisses. If you are unsure about how many kisses to give, it is best to let the other person initiate the greeting.

Useful Tip: I, personally, don’t like doing la bise. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I hate France. On more than one occasion, I tried to get out of it, and I ended up offending the other person. Now, I just say that I’m sick and most people let me off the hook.

✓ In formal or business settings, a handshake is used to greet someone. A firm handshake is a sign of professionalism and respect, and it is usually initiated by your colleagues or clients.

✓ While hugging may be common in the United States, in France, it is reserved for close family members or intimate partners. Hugging a stranger or casual acquaintance can be perceived as invasive or inappropriate.

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FAQs About French Greetings

What is the reply of bonjour?

The reply to bonjour is bonjour.

Is bonjour hello or goodbye?

Bonjour means hello.

Is it salut or bonjour?

Both salut and bonjour are correct. Bonjour can be used in both informal and formal situations while salut is only for casual settings.

Is it rude to not say bonjour?

It’s only rude to not say bonjour if the person is expecting a response.

How do you say hello in Paris?

In Paris, if you want to say “hello”, say “bonjour”.

Do you say bonsoir as hello?

You can only use bonsoir as a greeting during the evening or at night.

Can you say salut at night?

Yes, you can use salut at night, but only in an informal setting.

Conclusion: How to Say Hi in French

From the formal ” Vous allez bien?” to the festive “Joyeux Noël,” French offers a wide variety of ways to say “hello.” Of course, it’s important to understand when and where to use each of these. But with the tips and tricks listed here, you’ll be ready for any encounter.

Now that you’ve mastered how to say “hello” in French why not learn how to introduce yourself?


Read More Articles About France

I hope you enjoyed my post and found it useful. Here are some other articles about France that I think you might find interesting.


Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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