The French Vocab you need for the Olympics

by Fiona McMurrey
Courtesy of France Channel

Preparations for the Paris Olympics are in full swing with a little over three months to go until the games begin. Visitors will have an unprecedented chance to experience Paris at the height of Summer and festooned with all the prestigious trappings that accompany and accommodate the Olympic games and the world class athletes they host. However, even though the event is international, it is always best to be prepared when traveling to France, or any other country, for that matter, by practicing some essential words and phrases that will facilitate what is sure to be a memorable trip!

1. Greetings and Courtesies

No preparation for Paris is complete without learning a bit of everyday French! The following words are indispensable for all daily interactions that you may have, whether you are entering a store, museum, or queuing for a sporting event, this five words will make your trip easier.

1) Bonjour: Hello, say this whenever you enter any establishment, or want to ask someone for help or directions

2) Merci: Thank you, say this after every exchange or interaction

3) S'il vous plaît: Please, adhere to employ manners and remember to say please and thank you!

4) Excusez-moi: Excuse me, use this whenever you need to push past someone, or want to ask a question

5) Au revoir: Goodbye!

2. Navigating the City

Courtesy of France Channel

Paris contains an intricate and efficient public transportation system that may at first seem daunting but is actually quite easy to navigate once you become accustomed to the different lines and forms of transport.

Useful Words include:

1) Métro: The main Parisian form of public transportation

2) RER: These trains run from the banlieue (suburbs) to all big transportation hubs in Paris

3) Bus: The Parisian buses can be confusing and are not the most efficient forms of transportation

4) On marche! The best way to see Paris is by walking!

5) Plan de Ville: This is the map of the city, these are located at all bus stops and in all metro and RER stations

6) Rue: The ‘rue’ is the street name and is generally used for all Parisian addresses

3. Sports!

Courtesy of France Channel

If you’re visiting for the Olympics, you will necessarily need to know a few sports-related words to help avoid any confusion and also to help you embrace the local culture of Paris!

1) Jeux Olympiques: Olympics, Most Parisians refer to the games as “les JO”

2) Athlète: athlete, self explanatory

3) Médaille d’or: Gold medal

4) Stade: Stadium, there are several in Paris so be sure that you know which stadium is hosting the event you are attending before you end up traveling for an hour in the wrong direction!

4. Medical Terminology

One of the most important things to be aware of during an enormous event such as the Olympics, are emergency resources. An excellent way to be prepared for any potential health crises is to know your own medical history and have a list of translations that pertain to your particular state of health because although many French doctors speak English, they might just be conversational, as was the case when I found myself in the ER unexpectedly. While many terms translate quite directly to homonymic French equivalents, some do not so it is crucial to be aware of any medical conditions you may currently have or have been treated for.

Some simple terms include:

1. Aidez-moi: Help me!

2. Hôpital: Hospital

3. Numéro d’urgence: Number for emergency services

4. Pharmacie: Pharmacy

As you prepare your itinerary for the Paris Olympics this summer, remember to practice some French vocabulary which will indubitably enhance your experience and will empower you to navigate Paris with confidence and ease!