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BON this and BONNE that: The fine art of well wishing in France!

French dog in Biarritz (c) Kristin Espinasse
The French art of well wishing in today's edition. Enjoy and thanks for sharing this post with a friend!

bon (boh(n) silent "n")

     good; right, correct

 Listen to our daughter, Jackie, read the following example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Bonne fête, bonne journée, bonne promenade... bon appétit... les francais ont la manie de souhaiter les bonnes choses! Happy holiday, have a good day, enjoy your walk... or meal... the French are obsessed with well-wishing!

The following post was inspired by a comment I received: 

Hi Kristin, 

I was recently in France, and people wished me "bon courage" at the recent death of a family member there. Does this really mean "good luck"? This expression must have many meanings and uses. To my anglophone sensibilities, wishing someone good luck when a loved one passes away seems a bit odd and inappropriate. But I was wished "bon courage" with such heart felt emotion that I knew that this was an encouraging thing to wish me. Language is so interesting. Bette

Hi Bette,

I'm so sorry for your loss. You mentioned the bon courage expression meaning "good luck" and it seems this is true (though, for "good luck," the expression bonne chance also comes to my mind).

But back to bon courage: in addition to meaning "good luck," bon courage is also an expression of support, similar to "be strong" or even "take it easy." 

Bette, your note about the French language reminds me of the confusion I often felt when I first came to France, on discovering all the bonnes choses or "good" things the French were constantly wishing each other. I remember my surprise and embarrassment when complete strangers wished me bon appétit! while passing by the park bench, where I sat eating my lunch. 

This very personal acknowledgment by a stranger would be the beginning of a  budding insight into the French and their automatic courtesy. I leave you with several more examples of French well-wishing (which I've paired with some photos from the archives), and wish you, as my husband often wishes me when I set out to work: bonne édition! Enjoy this post! (or good luck writing today's post, as Jean-Marc said just this morning.)

Italian dog in Sauve, Italy (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon voyage... Photo taken in Sauve, Italy. Bon voyage is one of the more common courtesies you will hear the French wish each other. 

Bon voyage = Have a good trip!

Croatian dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon rétablissement is something the French wish each other when they are sick or healing. 

Bon rétablissment = Get well soon or speedy recovery!

French dog in Colmar, Alsace (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon essayage? One thing that amused me when I first came to France, was how the French were always well-wishing each other--everything from bon essayage to bon bricolage (I heard this last one at Castorama over the weekend.)

bon essayage! = happy trying-on!
bon bricolage = happy DIYing! (happy home improvement!) 

French dog in Serignan (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon jardinage. I dare you to go to une pépinière or nursery this time of year and not hear this well-wish at the checkout lane:

bon jardinage! = happy gardening! 

French dog and cats in Visan (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon débarras! Cats--and an imposter--in the town of Visan. Don't go getting the idea that all the wishes wished by the French are altruistic! From time to time you'll hear this one:

Bon débarras = good riddance! 

French dog in Gigondas (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bonne dégustation. A wish I often hear, living with a winemaker who loves to share his vin with friends, is this one:

bonne dégustation! = enjoy your drink!  

French dog in Seguret (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bon reniflement? Just kidding, French dogs don't really wish this to each other... but one can't be sure about French perfumists, and their courtesies...

bon reniflement! = good sniffing! 

French dog in Seguret (c) Kristin Espinasse
By the way, today is Saturday--the perfect time to with you bon week-end!

Bon week-end = have a great weekend!

Mas de Martin dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Bonne sieste! = "Have a good nap!" says this vineyard dog.

bonne sieste! = enjoy your nap!

French dog in Tulette, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
Almost time to wish you bon au revoir. On second thought, they don't say that at all in France! So much sweeter to say "à la prochaine!" (until next time...)

Italian dog in Ventimillie (c) Kristin Espinasse
... and bonne continuation! I almost left out my favorite "bon(ne)" expression...

Bonne continuation! = I wish you all the best (also = Keep up the good work!)

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Dog in Giens 
Dog in Spain - Amazing fur style!
Hiding dog... can you guess who this is?
Dog with motorcycle 

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Marika Ujvari

What a lovely collection of dog photos!!!Bon week-end Kristi!

Beth Vosoba

Interesting post! Lots of new "bons" that I can try out....I will remain on the lookout for an occasion to use the "bon bricolage". (I especially like that one). Bon weekend.

Heather in Arles

Bette, I had a 'click' when I heard my French honey wish my Mom to "Be Courageous" in face of a challenge as I knew that he was literally translating "Bon Courage" into English. I would imagine that, under the circumstances, that folks were just wishing you strength to face the tough time you are going through. My sincere condolences for your loss.

And thank you for the pupper photos, Kristin!

Kristine Hendrickson

I was taking a French class and told the teacher that I had laryngitis so couldn't speak in class. He said "Ah| Bon". Which threw me and I was convinced he was happy that I couldn't speak. I realised sometime later that he was just acknowledging what I had said.

Instead of Bon voyage, I have noticed people now say Bonne route, as most people are driving somewhere.

We are off to Nice soon so I can use the Bon bricolage term all the time.


You were so right to create this explanation, Kristin. The only real way to understand idiom in any language is by assimilation. For me, of all the languages I learnt, French was always the one where this was most true. It's no coincidence that the English word to describe this subtlety is "nuance". Here's the OED definition:
‖ nuance, n.

[F. nuance shade of colour, etc., f. nuer to shade, f. nue cloud:—pop. L. *nuba for classical L. nūbēs.]

1.1 A slight or delicate variation or difference in expression, feeling, opinion, etc.

   1781 H. Walpole Let. to C'tess Ossory 4 Jan., The more expert one were at nuances, the more poetic one should be.    1846 H. Greville Diary (1883) 165 The English and French difference on the Spanish question is considered as serious by people of every political nuance.    1873 Symonds Grk. Poets viii. 255 Much of the obscurity‥arises from our having lost the finer nuances of Athenian feeling respecting the persons satirized in the old Comedy.

2.2 A shade of colour; a slight difference or variation in shade or tone.

   1856–7 Geo. Eliot Scenes Clerical Life ii. iv, Whose face Nature seemed to have coloured in a hurry, and had no time to attend to nuances.    1879 A. J. C. Hare Story Life (1900) V. xx. 160 Her rooms were draped with every possible nuance of colour which can harmonise together.

3.3 A delicate gradation in musical expression.

   1879 Grove Dict. Mus. I. 171 Comparatively careless as to the right notes being played, but angry‥at any failure in expression or nuance.    1885 Athenæum 7 Feb. 192/3 Some numbers were splendidly given.‥ The nuances were also observed to a remarkable degree.


Enjoyed today post greatly! Merci bien


Thanks for all these useful expressions!
I always liked hearing bon dimanche when I volunteered at a Swiss monastery. Is there some equivalent greeting in English, specifically for Sunday?


This is an excellent post! One I'll print and keep. It will help me learn many new words and expressions. And, as always, your pictures are wonderful. Thank you. Bon weekend!

Randy Komisarek

Hi Kristin. Great post. You need to do a follow up with the way to respond (merci.merci bien, merci beaucoup, merci a vous, etc.) It's the other side of the social exchage in everyday France

Randy Komisarek

Pat Tinker

it took me a while to figure out that cashiers or strangers exiting an elevator were wishing me a good day and not a good journey, with "bon journee!"


Bon chocolat comes to mind . . . not sure if it should be bon or bonne.
Bon jour, bon soir, bon week-end ~

Vicky from Athens

Loved seeing/hearing the expressions paired with the expressions on all of the pups! I keep a little notebook with French words and expressions that I think will be most useful to me as I try to navigate my way through the countryside. I now have some new ones to add.
Thanks for a most enjoyable post this chilly Saturday morning!

Michèle Shuey

Michèle Shuey

Jane Hoppe

Practical post,Kristin. I'll add these to the list of French expressions I try hard to remember. Delightful dog photos! Merci.
Jane Hoppe

Cyndi Flanagan

Merci! I loved this post. An added bonus were the wonderful dog photos!

Mary Mirkin

I loved this post!! Thanks for the pairing the expressions and wonderful photos - warmed my heart on a snowy weekend in New Hampshire!

Brenda Prowse

Merci Kristin. I love hearing "bon courage" from my trainer at the gym near our apartment in Paris. And she loves hearing my "you can do it" responses. The receptionist at the gym always wishes me " bonne séance". I didn't know " bonne continuation" or "bon essayage" and will add them to my list of phrases to learn. My most favorite French phrase though is "j'hallucine!" Whenever I say it, my French friends always laugh wildly. It is so much better than the Englsh "You must be kidding". Bon week-end.


Beautiful pictures with a great tutorial....always something new to learn & understand !


Bonjour Kristin, I would add the following to your wonderful list, often heard from the cashier when leaving a store or restaurant: "bonne journée" and "bonne soirée". To answer Randy's question above, here in Champagne one usually gives the response "à vous aussi" or "à vous également" which always brings smiles of pleasure and sometimes a "merci Madame". Is it the same down south, Kristin?

Also, I would add that when someone is working over the weekend or late at night, and another is leaving, the one leaving says "bon courage" to the one staying. It is meant as "be of good courage" which I believe also applies to Bette's situation, or in other words, "keep your chin up".

John P Senetto

Great Posting Kristin. If it wasn't for your book years ago, I would have missed out on so much love of French and France.

Bon Amicalement.


Thanks for this fun and informative post, Kristin! I host a book club at my home every other month, and when I send out email announcements related to the group, I always sign off with "Happy reading!" After reading your post, I used a translation app to translate "reading" (of a book, specifically) as a noun, and it came up with "lecture." So, I suppose I will use "Bonne lecture!" next time we are reading something related to French culture or history. If you know of a phrase that is typically used for that situation, please let me know!

Joy Flynn

Like your other readers, I loved the photos paired with the new phrases! So well done - merci et bonne journée (It's still morning New York time)!

Leslie NYC

Lovely dogs and post, Kristin. Bon weekend!

Felipe Adan Lerma

Kristin, how does one know to use (in writing) either "bon" or "bonne"? I've a granddaughter staying in France for a semester, and want to be able to know which to use :-)

Jackie Clark Mancuso

At film festivals they say "Bonne Projection" after announcing the film. Enjoy the film. Have a good screening.


Yep, loved this post. Simple, practical, useful. I didnt see my fave... Bonne nuit, i have a pillow on my bed with it. I've read not to use it except at bedtime or it can be offensive. (Use bon soirée instead to someone going out into the night) however i've heard others use it apparently without stigma? Bonne année/happy new year, bonne coucher/have a good sleep, bonne matin, bonne apres-midi. Tammy

Chez Bonne Femme

I often hear "bonne continuation" in the context of dining. After bringing the second or third course, the server will say, "bonne continuation"--as in "keep enjoying this great meal."

As for bon debarras: Most of my college French profs were wonderful, except for a really mean 19th Century Literature professor. As we left the room after our final, she smiled and said to us all, "bon debarras!"

No one else knew what she was saying (she smiled as if she was saying "So nice to have met you!" But I knew what she was saying, and I could hardly believe it!


Merci, Kristi

This is one of my very favorite posts - the wonderful photos, and all the well wishes, and insight into French courtesy - so much better than the generic 'have a nice day'


Thanks for this post! I enjoyed it and will share it with a group of friends who will love it! Love the dog photos :-)


catharine ewart-touzot

how lovely it would be if we all acknowledged people we encounter in our daily we go about living it is always not just polite but necessary.


Love this post! One of the units in my French 2 course includes a few of these, but I will definitely be adding the rest to make it a little more interesting! Merci beaucoup!

edie schmidt

Bon Jour Kristin:

I think bon mots are fun aussi!
Loved the photos with the dogs in each one.
There's an excellent French film called "Bon Appetit" which I highly recommend.

Edie from Savannah

Cynthia P. Lewis

This is a wonderful post with expressive photos to match many of the greetings which the French so politely give each other. I am fascinated by them and by idioms, also. Many, many thanks and a bon week-end to you! (Felipe, the "bon" or "bonne" must agree in gender with the noun which it describes: bonne nuit/la nuit -- bon voyage/le voyage.)

Julie Breckenridge

Hi Kristin,
In southern France my husband and I were often wished bon journee and bon midi.
Enjoyed your post!
in Salt Lake City, Utah 84105

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Excellent, enjoyable post, vocabulary lesson and photos. I particularly loved the pooch at the fountain, and I think I recognized some others. Bonne continuation!


These French Bon's or Bonne's sound so much better than the tired chiche of "Have a Nice Day!" which grates on the ear when it is said robot-like by employees who are probably required by their employers to say it. I prefer to translate Bon or Bonne as "Good" rather than "Happy." Good gardening! Good Day! Good trip!

(Dog photos were great!)

Sari Hotchkiss

Some how all those bon/bonnes made sense of "Joie de vivre". With all that good wishing going on, how could anything but joie be the end result.

gwyn ganjeau

Kristin, first i must say what a treat it was to have this happy surprise of a saturday post! i normally must rush the reading as i gulp the last of my morning coffee to head for the bus to work. but today i could luxuriate with a second cup and really study the photos and take a lazy stroll through the post. and it is a good one. what a lovely thing it says about a culture when the people go through their day seeing, acknowledging and encouraging the actions of the people around them. bon lirage à toys!

gwyn ganjeau

oops, auto correct got me. i intended bon lirage à tous!

Debra Jordan

I would love to have the little red and white dog come live with me!

Julie Farrar

What a helpful post. I'll bookmark this one until I have time to add all of them to my personal phrase book. Bon week-end!



Brittany Stolle

Merci! I loved this post! Helpful and fun and great photos! Enjoy your weekend!


Our dear Kristi,
A wonderful and helpful post today(as always!)
but your pictures are nothing short of fantastic!
Not only did they steal my heart,but the way you captured the expressions on those precious pups is magic!
What a way to start the weekend!
Natalia. xo

Diane Young

Bonne chance with your writing, always. We all appreciate the time you spend and the new things we see. Today's "bon" and "bonne" expressions were unbelievable. The French really love that word. I would like to hear some bons mots about Jules. What is going on with her? I hope she is experiencing Bonne sante.


Great post today! Enjoyed it very much!

Chris Allin

Chere Kristi,

To echo everyone else, love today's post, all the puppy photos and the Saturday posting.

Good job! (How does that translate?)

Bill Facker

I can't help myself on this one, Kristin .. "Give the dog a Bon"


Judith Boasberg

I love all your posts, but this one with the nuances of the word "bon" was especially useful. And the photos of all the dogs were delightful. Tellement mignons!!

Agnes Demtchenko Terry

I agree ," Bon courage "always seems to be a surprise to english speaking people when talking of mourning . What it more exactly suggests is " strength in the face of grief " with an underlaying support . A comfort wish. I had to use it a lot lately with losses abroad and in the States , people here on our little island of Vinalhaven seems to get it . The intonation and the look of compassion help to get the right feeling .
Sincere condoleances seems a bit more traditional . I always say "bon courage to my son in law waiting for his last exam results towards his final year for PhD. It is comforting int his instance too.

Marti Hinman

Bonjour Kristi,
Vous nous apprendre beaucoup d" expressions utiles.
Je profite de votre post et j"aime les photos.
Vous êtes très artistique.
Mille merci!
Bonne journnée

Marianne van Thillo

I enjoyed that, even if I'm fairly good in French !

Koula Louras

Magnifique post. Heart warming and inspiring!
Merci beaucoup
Bon nuit


I always found bonne fin d'apres midi to be cute


Kristin, there are expressions in Russian. My favourite is 'S obnovkoy!' in Russian or, 'Tidhadshi' (feminine) or 'Tidhadesh' (masculine) in Hebrew. That's what we wish someone wearing a new piece of clothing or footwear. In English, we would say, "Hey, nice dress! Is it new?" Wouldn't it be wonderful to, instead, have an expression such as, "Enjoy your new dress!" It just doesn't sound the same.

Catherine Spiotta

YES! I loved today's post! You captured the distinctions perfectly. I love the well-wishing for any and every aspect of life that the French express. Thank you, Catherine

Leslie B.

Chère Kristin,
Quel recueil magnigique de photos et d'expressions! J'ai reconnu presque toutes les expressions. Je suis prof de français, et vous m'avez rendu un grand service en les rassemblant pour me permettre de les employer avec mes élèves. Et, en y pensant, je suis d'accord avec vous: les Français emploient ces expressions souvent, presque automatiquement (comme "Messieurs-dames," quand ils entrent presque n'importe où). C'est très français!
Merci, et bon travail! :)
Leslie B
Swannanoa, NC

Coleen Clemente

i Loved not only all of your 'bons' but all of the posts! Wow.


Lovely édition!
commenting from Singapore on way to Java.
Wish me bon voyage!

Augusta Elmwood

French genealogists often wish each other . I've also heard the expression when referring someone to a good book.

Augusta Elmwood

French genealogists often wish each other "bonnes recherches", and I've heard "bonne lecture" when someone recommends a good book to a friend.

Pat from Oregon

I agree with many of these comments - this was very helpful. I, too, was quite confused with all of the 'bons' and ' bonnes'. Thank you.


At the cinema, they wish you "bon film" (!)
If you are sending an enclosure or attachment to a letter or email, you can sign off "en vous souhaitant bonne réception de la présente"...

Katia, my husband is Armenian and they also have expressions of "congratulations" if you have a new dress or something, and even an expression for "enjoy your shower / bath"!

Elma de Koker

Love the doggy pics - keep them coming


Love the pictures. Animals never fail to amaze and pictures often tell their story.
The post bon/bonne is most very helpful. The French do love bon and bonne……and that is a charming habit.
Bonne journée is used a lot so I always try to say that when leaving a shop.
We are all but snowed in here in Chicagoland so the snowless pictures were a treat.
Please excuse me, but I have been out of touch and noticed in a post you have had a loss. I am deeply sorry, but don't know what the loss was. Courage.
Take care.

Judy Feldman

Love this blog, Kristy! So amusant, and informative, too! And, the photos are wonderful

Thank you for this treat!

Jan Bland

Bonjour Kristin - your site is very helpful to me. I've lived in France the past 3 years and every day I learn something new, especially from you.

Just a query, when people say bon weekend, bonne journee, etc. what is the correct way to respond?

Audrey Wilson

Great post today ,Kristin I love the way even toddlers & surly teenagers still say bonne journée whenever they see you in the village.
Another one is 'bonne route', for a journey by car. Bonne vacançes when loading the car prior to leaving on holiday I've even had 'bonne plantation' when bent over my troughs in front of my house !
Alors, bonne continuation !

Nancy Jane

I always learn something from this blog! Merci Kristin!

Faye  LaFleur-Stelly

In french SW Louisiana, we say "Bon Matin" meaning good morning or "de bon matin". meaning early in the morning.
Love the photos & opportunity to learn new words & different nuances of la langue française ! Merci beaucoup!

Carmen Clarke

I love how the French say 'Bonne Annee' until February 1!
And always 'Bonjour' to colleagues in the office. And if you see them again, 'Re-bonjour'


Bonne écriture❤️

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