How To Give (Or Get) Directions In French

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Written byAmélie Pinon

Looking for how to give (or understand) directions in French?

France is a beautiful country but it's very easy to get lost (especially in large cities like Paris!).

Here you'll find the most common French phrases for giving and asking for directions that will help you get around France or another French-speaking country.

Be prepared for the hustle and bustle and fast pace of Paris. There are shops everywhere, selling everything, there is loads of traffic (don't even think about taking a car-it's a special skill to drive in Paris.)

The metro and bus systems are fast and efficient, and there is no lovelier place to just stroll.

Let's take a stroll through the City of Lights and see what we can find.

Direction words in French

French English
à gauche to the left
à droite to the right
en haut upward
en bas downward
devant in front
derrière behind
à côté beside
au-dessus above
en dessous below
à l'intérieur inside
à l'extérieur outside
au milieu in the middle
à travers across
tout droit straight ahead
vers towards
loin de far from
près de close to
entre between

Sample sentences

à gauche - to the left

Tournez à gauche au prochain carrefour.

Turn left at the next intersection.

à droite - to the right

L'épicerie est à droite du bureau de poste.

The grocery store is to the right of the post office.

en haut - upward

Il a grimpé en haut de la colline pour avoir une meilleure vue.

He climbed upward to the top of the hill to get a better view.

en bas - downward

Descendez en bas de l'escalier et tournez à droite.

Go downward to the bottom of the stairs and turn right.

devant - in front

Le parc se trouve juste devant la mairie.

The park is located just in front of the town hall.

derrière - behind

La gare se trouve derrière le centre commercial.

The train station is located behind the shopping center.

à côté - beside

Le restaurant est à côté de l'hôtel.

The restaurant is beside the hotel.

au-dessus - above

L'avion vole au-dessus des nuages.

The plane is flying above the clouds.

en dessous - below

Le train passe en dessous du pont.

The train goes below the bridge.

à l'intérieur - inside

Il y a une piscine à l'intérieur de l'hôtel.

There is a swimming pool inside the hotel.

à l'extérieur - outside

Nous avons décidé de manger à l'extérieur.

We decided to eat outside.

au milieu - in the middle

Il y a une fontaine au milieu de la place.

There is a fountain in the middle of the square.

à travers - across

Il a traversé la rue en courant.

He ran across the street.

tout droit - straight ahead

Continuez tout droit jusqu'au feu rouge.

Keep going straight ahead until the red light.

vers - towards

Il marche vers la plage.

He is walking towards the beach.

loin de - far from

Le musée est loin de la gare.

The museum is far from the train station.

près de - close to

La boulangerie est près de la pharmacie.

The bakery is close to the pharmacy.

entre - between

Le parc se trouve entre les deux écoles.

The park is located between the two schools.

How to ask for directions in French

Here are some examples demonstrating how to ask for directions in French:

  • Excusez-moi, comment puis-je aller à la gare s'il vous plaît ? - Excuse me, how can I get to the train station please?
  • Pourriez-vous me dire où se trouve le musée le plus proche ? - Could you tell me where the nearest museum is located?
  • Je cherche le chemin pour aller à l'hôtel de ville. - I'm looking for the way to the town hall.
  • Est-ce que vous savez comment rejoindre la plage depuis ici ? - Do you know how to get to the beach from here?
  • Excusez-moi, je suis perdu. Pouvez-vous m'indiquer où se trouve la rue Saint-Jacques ? - Excuse me, I'm lost. Can you tell me where Saint-Jacques street is located?
  • Je suis en train de chercher la place du marché. Pouvez-vous me montrer sur la carte ? - I'm looking for the market square. Can you show me on the map?

French ordinal (compass) directions

Here are the compass (ordinal) directions in French:

French English
nord north
sud south
est east
ouest west
nord-est northeast
nord-ouest northwest
sud-est southeast
sud-ouest southwest

Other key expressions

A few more important key expressions you may need:

English French
Stop Stop
Go straight Tout droit
Turn left Tourne a gauche
Turn right Tourne a droite
Where is … ? Ou-est-ce?
Where is the exit? Ou est la sortie?
Where is the entrance? Ou est l’entrée?
Keep going Continuez
I am looking for a hotel. Je cherche un hotel
Where is the bathroom? Ou sont les toilettes?
Is it far from here? Est-ce loin d’ici?

Getting around in French

Let's practice getting directions so we can get around easily.

If you need to find the post office, you could approach someone and ask him.

We know how to say "where is", but let's add a little politeness to it now:

Excusez-moi, ou est la poste, s'il vous plait?

Excuse me, where is the post office, please?

C'est a rue duChamps, au milieu de la rue.

It's on duChamps Street, in the middle of the street.

Excusez-moi, ou est la mairie s'il vous plait?

Excuse me, where is the town hall, please?

C'est sur l'autre cote de la rue, juste en face.

It's on the other side of the street, right opposite.

Excusez-moi, ou est la Gare St. Lazare, s'il vous plait?

Excuse me, where is the St. Lazare train station, please?

Il faut prendre le metro. C'est au coin de la rue. Prenez-le jusqu'a l'arret Gare St. Lazare.

You have to take the metro. It's on the corner. Take it to the Gare St. Lazare stop.

Here we come across another handy idiom, "il faut".

It means "it is necessary" or "you must", and makes things a little easier for us, since we do not have to change it to agree with each person we are talking about.

You can use this to describe all of the things in life one must do.

Here's an example:

Il faut aller tout droit, et tourner a gauche.

You have to go straight ahead, and turn to the left.

Some more directions for getting around:

Est-ce que l'avenue des Champs-Elysees est loin d'ici?

Is the avenue Champs-Elysees far from here?

Non, nous sommes tout pres des Champs-Elysees.

No, were are right near the Champs-Elysees.

Which, of course brings us to another important French usage, est-ce que c'est?.

Est-ce que c'est? simply means is it and can be used to make any sentence into a question.

C'est difficile (It's difficult) becomes:

Est-ce que c'est difficile?

Is it difficult?
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How To Give (Or Get) Directions In French
Here you'll find the most common French phrases for giving and asking for directions that will help you get around France or another French-speaking country.
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