Bonjour tout le monde! I’ve been in France for just over a month now and I’m settling in so well. The first few days were a flurry of bank appointments, visiting my school and getting lots of legalities out of the way. Now that most of the paperwork is completed, I can concentrate on the next step – making friends!
I’m staying in a foyer des jeunes travailleurs – accommodation for young workers, similar to student halls. This has been great for meeting people, although I quickly realised I had to adapt my university-appropriate French – really, no one speaks like that here! I’ve found there’s still quite a formal level of French between young people here who don’t know each other, though. When meeting someone, they greet each other with bonjour during the day or bonsoir in the evening. Only once you’ve met someone a few times will they switch to salut – more like “hi” in English.
People almost always use the tu form of verbs with friends rather than the more formal vous. With some teachers, for example, we used vous at first, then most told me:
on peut se tutoyer
we can use ‘tu’ with each other
As for goodbyes, there are various ways to end a conversation. In shops or with teachers, I’ve been saying au revoir or bonne journée – “goodbye”, or “have a nice day”. Young French people mostly say à bientôt, “see you later”. If you know you’re going to see the person again very soon, or at least the same day, say à toute à l’heure, “see you soon”. There’s also à tout de suite (literally, “until immediately”) if you’re going away for say five minutes, similar to “see you in a few”. If you’ve made a good impression on someone and you want to meet up again, French people might say on peut s’ajouter sur Facebook/on peut échanger des numéros. This means “let’s add each other on Facebook” or “let’s swap phone numbers”. I hope this helps you when you need to find the right greetings to use with your French-speaking friends!