If you’re wandering in the streets of Paris looking for a shop and you need to ask for directions in French, how will you ask? And even better, what if someone asks you for directions to a place you know, how will you help them? Let’s take a look at the verbs and expressions most commonly used to give simple and yet efficient directions in French.
If you’re lost and cannot find La FNAC (a famous bookstore in Paris), you could go up to someone and simply ask: Excusez-moi, savez-vous où est la FNAC ? = Excuse-me, do you know where La FNAC is?
Now that the question has been put, the trick is to understand the directions. Let’s first look at the useful words/expressions:
à droite = right; à gauche = left; tout droit = straight ahead; faire demi-tour = turn around/make a U-turn ; traverser = to cross; monter = to go up; descendre = to go down; rez-de-chaussée = ground floor; étage = floor; le rayon = department (in a store); passer = to go by; le carrefour = intersection; au feu = at the stop light; jusqu’à = up to.
When giving directions, just like in English we use the ordinal numbers:
premier (1st), second/deuxième (2nd), troisième (3rd), quatrième (4th), cinquième (5th), dernier (last).
Now let’s look at some useful verbs which you can interchange easily when giving directions:
Aller = to go
You will need to conjugate this verb in the imperative which is the tense that we use to give commands/orders and directions: Allez ! = Go!
A couple of examples using this verb:
Allez tout droit = Go straight.
Allez jusqu’au carrefour = Go to the intersection.