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Money in French

Instructor: AJ Dana-Yoblonski

Dual citizen of France and Canada. Journalist - French print media (L'Obs, Paris Match, Le Parisien, ...) / Private tutor (grammar: English, French, Latin; literature) / Institutional communications officer

Being in France is nice, but if you don't know how to talk about or handle money, you might quickly find things quite difficult! In this lesson, we'll go over the basics of money vocabulary and expressions in French.

Spending Money in Paris

Ah! The nice, fresh Parisian air! The airport shuttle just dropped you off in the heart of the 18th district of Paris, where you plan to visit the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré-Coeur church. But you have only have dollars in your pockets, and France goes by euros. What are these currencies called in France?

French Pronunciation Meaning
un euro uhn ö-ro one euro
un dollar canadien uhn do-lar (ka-na-dee-uhn) one Canadian dollar
un dollar américain uhn do-lar a-may-ree-kun one American dollar
une livre sterling u-ne lee-vr steh-r-ling a British pound

You spot a bureau de change (bu-ro dö shon-zh), an exchange office, across the street. How can you say that you would like to change your dollars into euros?

  • Bonjour, je souhaite échanger mes dollars contre des euros: 'Hello, I'd like to change my dollars into Euros.'

The agent at the bureau de change will then give you the taux de change (to dö sh-onzh), the exchange rate. He might also mention the following words during the transaction:

French Pronunciation Meaning
l'argent l-ar-zh-on money
un billet uhn bee-yeh a bill
une pièce u-ne pee-eh-s a coin
un centime uhn son-tee-m a cent
la monnaie la mo-neh change

Des pieces
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C'est combien?

It's done! You put your newly-acquired Euros into your porte-monnaie (por-t mo-neh), your wallet. Before going on your solo sight-seeing tour, you decide to go to the souvenir shop right by the bureau de change in order to acheter (a-shö-tay), or buy, a few gifts for your friends and family. You grab the first keychains and hats in the shape of the Eiffel Tower and head to la caisse, (la keh-s), the cashdesk. You can then ask:

  • C'est combien?: 'How much is it?' (colloquial)
  • Combien vous dois-je?: 'How much do I owe you?' (polite)
  • Combien cela coûte-t-il?: 'How much does it cost?' (formal)

Combien vous dois-je?
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The salesperson answers:

  • Cela fait trente euros: 'That makes 30 euros.'
  • Cela coûte trente euros: 'It costs 30 euros.'
  • Trente euros s'il vous plaît: '30 euros, please.'

Sometimes, small shops in Paris do not have enough change and cannot accept big bills (such as 100-euro bills). They might then ask:

  • Avez-vous de la monnaie? (a-vay voo dö la mon-eh): 'Do you have change?'

Here are a few words than can help you pay and receive change:

French Pronunciation Meaning
payer peh-yay to pay
acheter a-shö-tay to buy
payer en carte bleue peh-yay on kar-t blö to pay with a blue card
payer en espèces peh-yay on eh-speh-s to pay cash
payer en liquide (coll.) peh-yay on lee-kee-d to pay cash
rendre la monnaie ron-dr la mo-neh to give change back

Payer en liquide
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Assez And Pas Assez

It's 1 p.m. already! Your souvenir shopping took longer (and more money) than you thought. You might as well stop at a bakery to buy something to eat. You find a bakery, but before you pick a delicious sandwich to eat, how much money in euros do you have left?

  • Il me reste _____: ' 'I have _____ left.'

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