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A little bit of French for your attendees to try out in Montréal

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st jean by eva blue

The unique blend of European charm and North American modernity that winds through Montréal’s cobblestone streets and hipster boroughs has long thrilled visitors to the city. And while Montréal is truly a bilingual city with much of the population speaking both French and English, everyone loves it when a visitor pulls out an expression or two from one’s back pocket and speaks la belle langue (“the beautiful language”). Here’s a few sample terms for your attendees to try out on a local.

place darmes by eva blue

The Basics

These words will get one through a day of shopping and wandering, and come with a tip: it’s customary to greet shopkeepers when visiting their stores with a hello and thank you on the way out.


Hello (literal translation: “Good day”)


Good evening

S’il vous plaît

(seel voo play)



De rien

(duh ree-en)
You’re welcome (literal translation: “of nothing”)

Bienvenue à Montréal !

Welcome to Montréal

cat by susan moss

Opening Lines

Go a little deeper with these helpful questions and answers. (And if things get to complicated, we’ve got you covered).

D’où venez-vous ?

(doo ven-ay voo)
Where are you from?

Je viens de … Atlanta.

(juh vee-en duh …)
I come from Atlanta.

Je ne parle pas très bien français.

(juh nah parl pah tray bee-en fran-say)
I don’t speak French very well.

Parlez-vous anglais ?

(par-lay vooz an-glay)
Do you speak English?

st jean 2 by eva blue

Speak like a Quebecer!

The French spoken here is unlike any other in the world, with its own charms and phrases not found anywhere else (and if you’re looking for a particularly colourful variant, ask someone to speak a bit of the working class dialect joual). Here’s a few words you’ll only find in Québec, each one a perfect way to impress a local.


Using the French verb “dépanner” — which means to help out or to fix — this is what we use for our corner stores, similar to New York’s use of the term bodega for theirs.


Pronounce it “sank-ah-set,” and everyone will know you’re up for a Happy Hour – the term suggests one lasting from 5 pm to 7 pm — but who knows how long they’ll last if everyone’s having a ball!


The local word for “patio.” And anytime the sun is shining (and it’s not winter), you’ll find locals swarming to terrasses en masse all over Montréal.


Perhaps Québec’s most popular addition to the culinary world, this combination of fries, gravy and cheese curds is a must-eat on any visit to Montréal.

Ayoille !

The quintessential Quebec expression of surprise, in short ayoille means “ouch.” Pronounce it eye-yoy and everyone will think you’re a local.

Want more? Check out Je Parle Québécois’ website and speak like a true Montréalaise.

Read this next: The Mile End: Nothing less than one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world

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