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Greetings and Good Wishes for Social Occasions in French

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 3/2/2012

How would you tell a French friend “Happy Bastille Day"? The French do not really say that, the way we say "Happy 4th of July." It would be nice to know how to express and exchange greetings in French. Here are some common ones.

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    Expressions Used in French Wishes

    The French, like everyone else, have many greetings which they use to extend good wishes to each other on birthdays, feast days and holidays. They also exchange toasts on special occasions, and congratulate each other on passing examinations and winning contests. What expressions do the French use to express these greetings? The words “joyeux and bon(ne) are the main words used to initiate the greeting or wish. Here is a list of some common wishes:

    Vive la France! Long live France

    Joyeux Noël - Merry Christmas

    Bonne Année - Happy New Year

    Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année - Season’s Greetings

    Bonne fête de Pâques - Happy Easter

    Bon voyage - Have a good trip

    Bonnes vacances - Enjoy your vacation

    Meilleurs voeux - Best wishes

    Bon anniversaire - Happy Birthday

    Bonne fête (Canada) - Happy Birthday

    Joyeux Anniversaire - Happy Birthday (used for the Happy Birthday song)

    Bon appétit - Enjoy your meal

    Bonne soirée - Have a nice evening

    Passez une bonne journée/soirée - Have a nice day/evening

    Que Dieu vous bénisse - May God bless you

    A votre santé/Santé - Cheers

    A la tienne/à la votre - Cheers

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    Some More Expressions

    You can also say:

    Je vous félicite (or) Félicitations - Congratulations

    In expressing good wishes on undertaking a venture, you will hear:

    Bonne chance - Good Luck

    Bon courage - Have courage/Good luck

    Je vous souhaite - I wish you….

    Je vous souhaite tous mes meilleurs vœux - I wish you all the best

    The French wish each other well for almost everything. You just use the word “bon’ or ‘bonne’ or the phrase ‘je vous souhaite’ or je te souhaite..’ and you can be assured the French people will be happy with you. At home, on the street, when someone wins a prize, there’s always an occasion for congratulations.

    To express condolences on the death of someone, you say:


    Armed with these expressions, you can go a long way in feeling at ease in establishing and maintaining social relationships with the French.

    Here are some other websites, where you can learn more about French greetings: greetings special occasions

    Word Reference: wishes