Mon Vacances French Essay Vocabulary

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
 Suggest a change / proposez une modification

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
 Suggest a change / proposez une modification

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
 Suggest a change / proposez une modification

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
 Suggest a change / proposez une modification

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
l'ajisme-youth-hostelling
un(e) ajiste-a youth-hosteller
 Suggest a change / proposez une modification


Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.

Summer, summer, summertime! It’s the perfect time to relax and have some fun. Plus, it’s a season full of fun French words and phrases! Read on to learn some vocab from French tutor Beth L.

 

Summer is coming, and France is a wonderful haven during this time of year (if you can avoid the heat)! The weather is warm, and delicious, fresh food abounds. Children are on vacation from school, and many families take advantage of that to travel. For many, the allure of nature and the great outdoors is difficult to resist.

What will you be doing with your summer? Beef up your vocabulary so you can tell your friends about it – in French!

One of the first things summer brings to mind is the excitement of vacation and travel.

1) l’été – summer
2) les vacances – vacation
Note: les vacances d’été – summer vacation
3) voyager – to travel
4) un voyage – a journey
5) juin – June
6) juillet – July
7) août – August

Now, let’s use these words in a sentence! For example…

  • Pendant mes vacances d’été, j’aime bien voyager! (During my summer vacation, I like to travel!)
  • Je peux choisir le mois de juin, le mois de juillet, ou le mois d’août pour mon voyage. (I can choose the month of June, the month of July, or the month of August for my trip.)

Many people enjoy the extra time and warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors.

8) le parc – the park
9) la pelouse – the lawn / grass
10) un pique-nique – a picnic
11) de la glace – some ice cream
12) la plage – the beach
13) le sable – sand
14) la piscine – the swimming pool
15) la mer – the sea
16) l’océan – the ocean
17) un maillot de bain – a swim suit
18) un lac – a lake
19) un bateau – a boat
20) nager – to swim
21) le Jardin – the garden
22) jardiner – to garden
23) une fleur / des fleurs – a / some flower(s)
24) une plante – a plant
25) un arbre – a tree
26) la nature – nature
27) les montagnes – the mountains
28) dehors – outside
29) marcher – to walk
30) courir – to run
31) jouer – to play

Editor’s Note: Get a refresher on conjugating -er verbs.

Example sentences:

  • Pendant l’été, nous jouons souvent dans le parc. (During the summer, we often play in the park.)
  • On prend un pique-nique pour déjeuner déhors.(We bring a picnic to eat lunch outside.)
  • J’aime surtout le jardin d’enfants avec ses fleurs et ses arbres. (I especially like the children’s garden with its flowers and trees.)
  • J’ai toujours aimé les bateaux.(I always liked boats.)
  • Quand je suis à la mer, je fais du bateau à voiles. (When I’m by the sea, I go sailboating.)
  • Quand je passe du temps à un lac, je regarde l’eau et les arbres, et j’écoute la silence.(When I spend time at a lake, I look at the water and the trees, and I listen to the silence.)

With the outdoors, of course, you’ll need to be able to talk about the beautiful weather, as well.

32) le soleil – the sun
33) la chaleur – the heat
34) le vent – the wind
35) les nuages – the clouds
36) le ciel – the sky
37) le sud – the south

Example sentences:

  • Quand on va à la plage, il faut se souvenir de son maillot de bain! (When you go to the beach, you must remember your bathing suit!)
  • Comme ça, on peut courir dans l’eau et dans le sable. On peut se bronzer sous le soleil, sentir le vent sur la peau, et apprécier la beauté de l’eau et du ciel. (That way, you/we/one can run in the water and in the sand. You/we/one can tan yourself/ourselves/oneself in the sun, feel the wind on your/our/one’s skin, and appreciate the beauty of the water and the sky.)

In addition to the words above, below are some common phrases and expressions related to summer.

1) Je vais dehors – I’m going outside
2) Il fait chaud – It’s hot
3) Il fait du soleil – It’s sunny
4) Il fait beau – It’s / the weather is beautiful
5) Il fait du vent – It’s windy
6) donner de l’ombre – give / provide shade
7) se limoger – to distance oneself
8) faire du camping – to go camping
9) faire du bateau à voile – to go sailboating
10) aller à la (f.) / aller au (m.) / aller aux (pl.) – to go to
11) prendre l’autoroute – take the highway
12) tomber en panne – break down
13) un coup de soleil – sunburn
14) prendre un coup de soleil – get a sunburn
15) se bronzer – to sunbathe / to get a tan

Check the same regular verb list linked above for help conjugating the regular -er verbs on this list. Several more expressions use the verbs faire and aller. (Learn more about irregular conjugations here.)

Example sentences:

  • Aujourd’hui, on a voulu se bronzer à la plage. (Today, we wanted to tan ourselves at the beach.)
  • Mais on est tombé en panne quand on a pris l’autoroute. (But our car broke down when we were getting onto the freeway.)
  • On a perdu toute une journée d’été! (We lost a whole day of summer!)

So, what are your favorite French words and phrases for summer? Here are ours:

As school lets out and the summer begins, don’t be the first to lose your French – instead, continue practicing with your friends while you’re out having fun!

Post Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by Tommie Hansen

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