‘Au Revoir’ and Beyond: The Art of Bye in French
Saying ‘Goodbye’ in French involves more than just uttering the well-known ‘Au Revoir.’ Numerous other expressions, perhaps less familiar to non-native ears, can also indicate leaving. Whether bidding farewell in casual settings or formal environments involving higher respect, navigating the nuances allows a deeper connection with French culture. Keep reading to discover how these goodbye phrases vary across different social settings and regions of France.
The Universal French Goodbye Sayings: ‘Au Revoir’ and others
Every language has its staple farewells, and French is no exception. While ‘Au Revoir’ is universally recognized, other essential parting phrases exist in the lexicon. How to say goodbye in French? Here are the popular ways:
- Au Revoir
Perhaps the most recognized French goodbye, ‘Au Revoir,’ literally means ‘until we see each other again.’ It embodies formality and politeness, fitting seamlessly into nearly any situation, whether a business meeting or a casual café visit.
Je dois partir maintenant, au revoir. (I have to leave now, goodbye.)
À demain matin, au revoir. (See you tomorrow morning, goodbye.)
Casual and laid-back, ‘Salut’ might greet you at the start of a conversation and wave you off at the end. Initially a way to say ‘hi’ among friends, its versatility also lends to casual farewells.
C’était amusant aujourd’hui, salut. (It was fun today, bye.)
Je reviendrai plus tard, salut. (I’ll come back later, bye.)
- À plus
When young French speakers bid their peers goodbye, ‘À plus’ often echoes. Short for ‘À plus tard’, this phrase exudes casualness. It’s the equivalent of saying, ‘Catch you later,’ promising another interaction without specifying when.
Je te texterai plus tard, à plus. (I’ll text you later, see you.)
À plus, et merci pour le café. (See you later, and thanks for the coffee.)
- À bientôt
For those partings that come with the gentle promise of seeing each other soon, ‘À bientôt’ is the phrase of choice. There’s warmth and anticipation embedded in its use. When someone tells you ‘À bientôt,’ it’s with the hope and expectation of a reunion soon.
J’espère te revoir ce weekend. À bientôt. (I hope to see you this weekend. See you soon.)
C’était super de te rencontrer, à bientôt. (It was a pleasure meeting you, see you soon.)
Reserved, dramatic, and with a certain finality, ‘Adieu’ is a weighty farewell. Its literal translation is ‘to God.’ Historically, it has been used to signify a final goodbye, perhaps even forever. While less common in day-to-day interactions, its gravity is felt when employed in profound moments.
Je ne pense pas que nous nous reverrons. Adieu. (I don’t think we’ll see each other again. Farewell.)
C’est peut-être notre dernière rencontre, adieu. (This might be our last meeting, farewell.)
Casual Departures: Informal Ways to Say Goodbye in French
French offers a delightful array of casual farewells in everyday conversations among friends, colleagues, or acquaintances. These light-hearted expressions lighten the mood, resonate with friendliness, and infuse warmth into partings. Here’s a glimpse into informal goodbye in French:
Often used among friends and family, ‘Bisous’ translates to ‘kisses.’ This affectionate term is mostly employed when saying goodbye to loved ones.
À demain, bisous. (See you tomorrow, kisses.)
Donne-moi de tes nouvelles, bisous. (Keep me updated, kisses.)
- À la prochaine
This phrase, meaning ‘until next time,’ holds the promise of another meeting, yet without the specifics.
J’ai adoré notre discussion, à la prochaine. (I loved our chat, until next time.)
Prends soin de toi, à la prochaine. (Take care, until next time.)
Borrowed from Italian but embraced by the French, especially in the south, ‘Ciao’ is upbeat and spirited, often used among friends.
C’était une soirée géniale, ciao. (It was a fantastic evening, ciao.)
À la prochaine, ciao. (Until next time, ciao.)
- Ça roule
Translating to ‘it rolls,’ this colloquial phrase can be used as an acknowledgment, akin to ‘okay’ or ‘got it,’ but also as a casual way to say goodbye.
J’ai passé un bon moment, ça roule. (I had a good time, ok then.)
Je dois aller travailler maintenant, ça roule. (I have to go to work now, alright then.)
- À tout à l’heure
A bit more specific, this phrase means ‘see you in a little while.’ It’s used when you expect to see the person again the same day.
Je reviens dans une heure, à tout à l’heure. (I’ll be back in an hour, see you soon.)
Je te retrouve au café, à tout à l’heure. (I’ll meet you at the café, see you shortly.)
Formal Farewells: Saying Goodbye in French Respectfully
Formal goodbyes are especially vital in professional settings, during first meetings, or when addressing seniors. These expressions convey respect, politeness, and professionalism. Below, you can find some formal goodbyes in French:
- Je vous salue
Translating to ‘I salute you,’ this is a very formal expression, often used in written correspondence more than spoken conversation.
Je vous salue et attends votre réponse. (I salute you and await your reply.)
Je vous salue, cher collègue. (I salute you, dear colleague.)
- Je vous dis adieu
While ‘adieu’ is heavy and dramatic, prefacing it with ‘je vous dis’ (I tell you) adds a layer of solemn respect. It’s a very formal and final goodbye.
Avec le plus profond respect, je vous dis adieu. (With the deepest respect, I bid you farewell.)
Après tant d’années de service, je vous dis adieu. (After so many years of service, I bid you farewell.)
- Au plaisir de vous revoir
Meaning ‘looking forward to seeing you again,’ this phrase expresses anticipation respectfully.
Merci pour cet entretien, au plaisir de vous revoir. (Thank you for this meeting; looking forward to seeing you again.)
Votre compagnie a été appréciée, au plaisir de vous revoir. (Your company was appreciated, looking forward to our next meeting.)
- Je prends congé
Directly translated, this means ‘I take leave.’ It’s a formal way of announcing one’s leaving, often from a gathering or meeting.
Merci pour votre temps, je prends congé. (Thank you for your time, I take my leave.)
La soirée a été enrichissante, je prends congé. (The evening was enlightening; I take my leave.)
Regional Variations of Goodbye in French
French, spoken by millions worldwide, has a few regional variations when it comes to saying goodbye. Here’s how you say goodbye in French in different Francophone regions:
- À la revoyure
Used primarily in Normandy and parts of Brittany, this phrase is a regional take on ‘Au revoir.’ It embodies the same spirit of seeing someone again.
On a passé un bon moment, à la revoyure. (We had a good time, see you again.)
Prends soin de toi, à la revoyure. (Take care, see you again.)
It is a common goodbye in the Provençal region, reflecting the influence of the Occitan language.
Le marché provençal était charmant, adessias. (The Provençal market was lovely, goodbye.)
Les calanques étaient magnifiques, adessias. (The Calanques were magnificent, farewell.)
A farewell rooted in the Breton language, ‘Kenavo’ is primarily used in Brittany. It carries the weight of ‘Au revoir’ or ‘Adieu.’
Les crêpes bretonnes étaient délicieuses, kenavo. (The Breton pancakes were delicious, goodbye.)
J’ai adoré les légendes bretonnes, kenavo. (I loved the Breton legends, farewell.)
Originating from Corsica, ‘Orà’ reflects the Corsican language’s influence and is used as a casual version of bye in French.
J’ai passé une belle journée avec toi, orà. (I had a nice day with you, orà.)
À demain, orà. (See you tomorrow, orà.)
Unleash Your Linguistic Potential with Promova
Upgrading your multilingual abilities or setting foot into the world of new languages, Promova is your perfect ally. Our platform strives to make language acquisitio enjoyable and effective for everyone, regardless of their proficiency level. Whether it’s English, French, Spanish, Korean, German, or Italian you wish to master, we have a comprehensive range of guided courses designed to meet your specific needs.
Promova isn’t just about listing vocabulary words or teaching complex grammatical constructions. Our mission is to ensure you develop an all-rounded command of your targeted language, including conversation skills, comprehension abilities, cultural understanding, and more.
With Promova’s interactive mobile app available on iOS and Android platforms, learning is convenient for everyone. Boasting a user-friendly interface with many interactive tools, from vocabulary lists to quizzes, you can master your chosen language at your own pace.
For learners aiming to master English, we offer group classes and personalized 1x1 lessons. These live sessions provide an invaluable opportunity to receive immediate feedback from expert tutors and practice speaking English in a supportive environment. The first personal lesson is free, allowing you to witness the benefits firsthand!
The art of saying goodbye in French goes beyond the familiar ‘Au Revoir.’ From formal farewells to regional nuances, each expression offers a unique insight into the culture and history of the Francophone world. Embracing this variety not only enriches one’s linguistic abilities but also deepens cultural appreciation. As with many tongues, these different ways to say goodbye in French bring the language to life, making each farewell memorable.
Is it common in France to use English goodbyes like ‘Bye’?
Yes, globalization and the ubiquity of English in media have influenced younger French generations. It’s common to hear ‘Bye,’ ‘See ya,’ and other ways to say ‘Goodbye’ in casual conversations, especially among teens and young adults.
How do non-verbal cues complement French goodbyes?
Non-verbal cues, like a handshake, a nod, or the famed ‘bise’ (cheek kiss), often accompany French goodbye. These gestures can indicate intimacy, respect, or familiarity between the parties, providing additional context to the spoken words.
How can one practice using these French farewells?
Interacting with native speakers or watching regional films or series can help. It allows real-world practice, enhancing pronunciation and understanding when and how to use each farewell.
Which resources are recommended for learning French?
Dictionaries like Collins French-English Dictionary and Larousse are invaluable for those keen on mastering French. They provide comprehensive definitions and contextual examples that can help understand the nuances of language use. The Promova French language learning app also offers a holistic approach.