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There is so much pleasure and entertainment for the fashion aficionado in France, but the language barrier can take the shine off the experience. Never fear. Here is a handy list of vocabulary and a few hints:

    • When you enter the smaller shops, if you are within earshot of the attendant, try to say bonjour Monsieur or bonjour Madame or, if there’s both women and men present, Bonjour messieursdames (or mumble something that sounds like boshooommssedamm).There is a different perception, particularly away from the big cities, as to the personal space of the shop owner. Traditionally the shopkeeper would live above or behind the shop, it was an extension of the home, and therefore people would greet each other as if the customer was entering the shopowner’s house.
    • To call a salesperson’s attention, keep it simple. Eye contact with a “s’il vous plaît” is a good opener.
    • Don’t panic if the salesperson approaches to offer assistance. If you need some time to look, just say “merci, je regarde” (thank you, I’m just looking).

Shop window: la vitrine
Changing room: la cabine
Aisle:  le rayon
I would like to try it on: Je voudrais l’essayer
It is too big/small: C’est trop grand/petit

Clothing size: taille
Shoe size: pointure
Shirt: un chemisier (women); une chemise (men)
Skirt: une jupe
Dress: une robe
Trousers: un pantalon
Tie: une cravate
Jacket: une veste
Suit: (women) un tailleur, (men) un costume
Belt: une ceinture
Shoes: des chassures
Boots: des bottes
Handbag/bag: un sac

Cotton: coton
Wool: laine
Silk: soie
Linen: lin
Leather: cuir

How much is it?: c’est combien pour ce/cette …
Discount: remise
Receipt:le ticket de caisse

Did you find this useful? See more language tips here.

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