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Asking for and giving directions in French: essential terms

Updated: Mar 29

Asking for directions is something normal, as anyone has been lost once or might be again. If you are in a French-speaking context, it will be worth knowing words like "où est/where is" or basic phrases like excusez- moi (excuse me), s'il vous plaît (please), or c'est (it is).

In this lesson, you are going to learn words and expressions used to ask for directions and how to reply to them. You will start by learning some keywords and phrases like names of places in the city, compass directions, useful verbs, and some prepositions of place. Keep on reading till the end, to be able to practice what you've learned.

How to ask for directions in French

French Words for the names of places in town

To be able to find your way, it is important to make sure that you know the names of places in the city. A place in French can be translated as un endroit, or un lieu. Here are a few of the common must-know places in town.

  • L'aéroport: airport

  • L’arrêt de bus: bus stop

  • La banque: bank

  • La bibliothèque: library

  • La boulangerie: bakery

  • La boutique / le magasin : shop

  • Le café: café

  • Le commissariat de police: police station

  • L'école: school

  • L'église: church

  • La gare: station (bus station or train station)

  • L'hôpital: hospital

  • L'hôtel: hotel

  • La mairie / l’hôtel de ville: the town hall

  • Le marché: market

  • La mosquée: mosque

  • Le parc: park

  • La pharmacie: pharmacy

  • La poste: post office

  • Le restaurant: restaurant

  • Le supermarché: supermarket

  • Le temple: temple

Useful direction verbs to know

The list of verbs below will be very useful for understanding directions. Most of them are movement verbs but not all of them are generally used with être in the passé composé tense.

  • Être => to be

  • Aller => to go

  • Chercher => to look for

  • Continuer => to continue

  • Tourner => to turn

  • Traverser => to cross

  • Dépasser=> to pass

  • Longer => to go along/walk along

  • Marcher => to walk

  • Monter => to go up

  • Passer => to go past

  • prendre => to take

  • Descendre => to go down

  • Vouloir => To want

French verbs for directions - les verbes de direction

The four cardinal points in French