Plan for differences in language and culture.
Use these helpful hints for: Time; some simple Counting; and how to convert Measurement Units.
Plan for asking Directions; save money with ordering tips and translate words for Food and Restaurant.
Know what to expect of Accommodations and learn a few French words to understand your reservations.
France uses 24-hours; there is no am or pm.
Morning? 8:00 am = 08h00 and the French say "huit heure".
Evening? 8:00 pm = 20h00 and the French say "vingt heure".
France is usually 6 hours ahead of United States East Coast time. France changes to daylight savings time but rarely on the same day as the U.S.
8:00 am in New York City = 2:00 pm (14h00) in Paris.
8:00 pm in New York City = 2:00 am (02h00) the next day in Paris.
Why, usually? France and the United States both observe Daylight Savings Time in the Spring and return to Standard Time in the Fall. However, the two countries do not change hours on exactly the same day. If you travel during the time changes in Spring and Fall, be sure to double-check your reservations for correct times in both countries.
Combien? - How much or how many?
1-un, 2-deux, 3-trois, 4-quatre, 5-cinq, 6-six, 7-sept, 8-huit, 9-neuf, 10-dix,
11-onze, 12-douze, 13-treize, 14-quatorze, 15-quinze, 16-seize, 17-dix-sept, 18-dix-huit, 19-dix-neuf,
20-vingt, 30-trente, 40-quarante, 50-cinquante, 60-soixante, 70-soixante-dix, 80-quatre-vingt, 90-quatre-vingt-dix,
France uses the metric system.
Temperature To convert from Celsius(°C) to Fahrenheit(°F), use this formula: (°C * 9/5) + 32
2.54 centimeters = 1 Inch. From centimeters to inches, multiply by 0.3937.
0.9144 meters = 1 Yard. From meters to yards, multiply by 1.094.
1.609 kilometers = 1 Mile. From kilometers to miles, multiply by 0.6214.
Mileage markers in France are in kilometers; speed limits are posted in kilometers/hour.
0.4536 kilograms = 1 Pound. From kilograms to pounds, multiply by 2.2046.
- 225°F = 110°C = Gas Mark 1/4
- 250°F = 120°C = Gas Mark 1/2
- 275°F = 135°C = Gas Mark 1
- 300°F = 150°C = Gas Mark 2
- 325°F = 160°C = Gas Mark 3
- 350°F = 175°C = Gas Mark 4
- 375°F = 190°C = Gas Mark 5
- 400°F = 205°C = Gas Mark 6
An anecdote from Brellie
What a surprise when she received a gigantic amount!
She meant a half-pound but forgot to convert.
A half-kilo, which is more than a whole pound, is a LOT of rillettes to eat!
After that, Momy memorized the words deux-cent cinquante grammes.
Deux-cent cinquante (250) grams is about half a pound.
Be careful with straight and right; they are similar!
Left, Straight, Right
North, East, South, West
Food and Restaurant
Bottled water! It's everywhere. Sparkling (carbonated [l'eau pétillante]) or still (non-carbonated [l'eau plate]) bottled water?
Most restaurants charge for any bottled water.
If you just want tap water, order a carafe d'eau. And, yes, it is safe to drink. It is also free.
The Menu, The Carte and The Ardoise
The word menu in French refers to a fixed-price multi-course meal.
The word carte in French refers to what Americans call the menu (with all options à la carte).
Ardoise means slate and is usually a blackboard.
Find daily specials, including multi-course meals, on the ardoise.
It is generally a better bargain to order one of the available multi-course fixed-price meals from a menu or the ardoise.
However, do not expect any alterations or substitutions to the planned courses.
You can order à la carte, which means ordering items individually from the carte.
This is usually the most expensive option.
French/English Food Word Translation Help
Let Brellie help you with common food and drink words in French.
She offers FREE single-page tri-fold brochures with translations that you can download yourself.
Take a peek at the preview.
Here is how to download and print yourself.
Select your choice of the PDF or Word version link.
For print options, choose:
- 2-sided printing,
- flip on short side.
Tri-fold Food and Drink Translation | PDF | 112kb
Tri-fold Food and Drink Translation | Microsoft ® Word | 46kb
Preview Tri-Fold MyGoz2 Food and Drink Translation Brochure
It is customary to be asked if you want breakfast (petit déjeuner) the next morning when checking into a place that provides it.
Be aware that this petit déjeuner usually comes with an additional charge.
Inquire about the charge; what is included; and make your decision.
Typically, French breakfasts resemble a U.S. Continental Breakfast with breads, butter, jams, juice, and hot beverage.
Shower (douche). Shower heads are usually not installed on the wall except in modern hotels.
Instead, look for a flexible hose at the spigot with a shower head at the end.
Yes, you hold it in your hand.
Shower curtains are rare in France.
A wash cloth is considered a personal item.
Expect a bath towel but not a wash cloth.
Windows and Shutters
Windows do not have screens.
Expect bugs (including mosquitoes) if you leave your window open!
Use the shutters.
They are functional items in France and not decorative like so many in the U.S.
Here is how: Close the shutters at night and open them in the morning.
Close the shutters with the window open to reduce (not eliminate) bugs and still benefit from a breeze.
The ground floor/street level is Level 0 in France.
Note elevator button 0 is usually the lobby on the street level.
Elevator button 1 is the floor ABOVE street level.
When you climb stairs or take an elevator to the floor above ground level/street level, it is Level 1 in France.
France: 0 = Ground Floor/Street Level; 1 = Floor above Ground Floor.
USA: 1 = Ground Floor/Street Level; 2 = Floor above Ground Floor.
Air conditioning, called climatization or clime may not be in all shops and restaurants.
In cars, yes, most have it.
In traditional hotels and rental villas, it is rarely an option.
Modern hotels do have air conditioning, sometimes, BUT not always operational. For some reason, even if it is sweltering hot outside and air conditioning exists, French hotels often don't turn it on until late summer. There are exceptions; just don't expect it.
French Words You Need to Know
Here are a few words that should help you understand your reservations and enjoy your accommodations.
- night = nuit
How many nights? Combien de nuit?
- bedroom = chambre
Do you have a room? Avez-vous une chambre?
- bed = lit; single bed = lit simple; double bed = grand lit
- shower = douche
with a shower? avec une douche?
- bathtub = bain
with a bathtub? avec un bain?
- bath towel = serviette de bain
- bed sheets = draps de lit
- pillow = oreiller
- hair dryer = sèche-cheveux
- breakfast = petit déjeuner
- price = prix
the price? le prix?
- free wifi = wifi gratuit (pronounced weefee)
- cold = froid(e); hot = chaud(e)
- Warning! C = HOT!
Hot and cold water handles are marked F (froide/cold) and C (chaude/hot).
- on/start = marche; marked with a single line (|) or the letter M.
- off/stop = arrêt; marked with a circle (O) or the letter A.