Utter French!

French Phrases: Vacations/holidays

Places you go on holiday

OK, this is a personal matter, but here are some places you might go on holiday:

en vacances-on holiday, on vacation
je suis allé...-I went...
on est allé...-we went...
je vais aller...-I'm going to be going...
j'ai passé mes vacances...-I spent my vacation/holidays...
à la plage-to the beach
au bord de la mer-to/at the seaside
en France-to/in France
en Espagne-to/in Spain
au Canada-to/in Canada
à Paris-to/in Paris
dans les Alpes-to/in the Alps
au Mexique-to/in Mexico
à Cancun-to/in Cancun
j'ai fait du camping-I went camping
on a fait du caravaning-we went caravanning
je suis allé faire du ski-I went skiing
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Getting there...

Here are some expressions for mentioning the mode of transport:

j'ai pris...-I took...
on a pris...-we took...
...l'autocar-...the coach
...l'avion-...the plane
...le bâteau-...the ferry
...l'Eurostar-...the Eurostar
...le train-...the train
...la voiture-...the car
j'y suis allé...-I went (there)...
je suis allé à Paris...-I went to Paris...
...en autocar-...by coach
...en avion-...by plane
...en Eurostar-...by Eurostar
...en train-...by train
...en voiture-...by car
on a fait 10 heures de route-we drove for 10 hours
on a pris l'autoroute-we went on the motorway/freeway
(on s'est retrouvé) bloqués sur l'autoroute-(we ended up) stuck on the motorway
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Note that you generally never use aller "on its own": you must always either mention a place, or else insert the word y. So to say "we went by car", you would say on y est allé en voiture, because you're not mentioning the specific place (or you can say on a pris la voiture).

Things to do on holiday

Here are how to say some common holiday activities in French:

se baigner-to go bathing
se bronzer-to sunbathe
nager-to swim
lire des romans sur la plage-to read on the beach
se détendre-to relax
faire du ski-to ski, go skiing
faire du surf-to go surfing
faire le tour de...-have a look round...
faire une excursion-to go on an excursion
visiter les musées-to see the museums
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Things that go wrong

Here's how to explain some of the things that tend to go wrong with my holidays. Surely these have never happened to you:

on est tombés en panne-we broke down
on est arrivés en retard-we got there late
le train/l'avion est arrivé en retard-the train/plane arrived late
on a perdu le train/l'avion-we missed the train/plane
l'avion est parti en retard-the plane was late leaving
l'avion était surbooké-the plane was overbooked
j'ai oublié mon passeport-I forgot my passport
on a oublié les billets d'avion-we forgot the plane tickets
on a dû faire la queue pendant trois heures-we had to queue for three hours
le musée était fermé-the museum was shut
on s'est perdus en route-we got lost on the way
on n'a pas pu trouver...-we couldn't find...
on a perdu nos valises-our luggage got lost, our luggage went missing1
la nourriture était dégueulasse2-the food was digusting
la chambre donnait sur un chantier-we had a view of a building site
il y avait trop de monde-it was too crowded, there were too many people
je me suis fait piquer/bouffer3 par des moustiques-I got bitten/eaten alive by mosquitoes
je me suis fait piquer4 mon portefeuille-I had my wallet nicked
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1. Depending on context, this could also mean "we lost our luggage".
2. dégueulasse is a slang, but very common, word meaning "gross", disgusting; it's sometimes shortened to dègue or dégueu (e.g. "trop dègue" = "totally gross").
3. bouffer is a slang word meaning "to eat", but it's quite common.
4. The word piquer with this meaning is informal, but again quite common.

Other holiday essentials

Here are some other phrases and vocab that are useful for talking about holidays:

bonnes vacances!-have a good holiday!
bon voyage!-have a good trip!
bonne route!-have a safe journey!
les grandes vacances-the (school) summer holidays
partir en vacances-to go on holiday/vacation
de la crème solaire-some suncream
de la crème après-soleil-some after-sun
j'ai fait ma valise/mes valises-I packed, I did my packing
un bikini-a bikini
un maillot de bain-a swimsuit, swimming costume, bathing shorts
on a passé la nuit...-we stayed/spent the night...
on a logé...-we stayed...
...dans un hôtel-...in a hotel
...dans une auberge de jeunesse-...in a youth hostel
...dans une tente-...in a tent
...dans la caravane-...in the caravan
...chez des amis-...with friends
on a bien mangé-the food was good, we ate well
on s'est bien amusés-we had a good time
des vacanciers-holidaymakers, vacationers
des aoûtiensde zausjæ̃August holidaymakers/vacationers, summer vacationers
un(e) ajiste-a youth-hosteller
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Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.