When visiting France, you might often hear or see the French word for "welcome" - "bienvenue". However, this is not the only way of welcoming someone, as there are several variations that depend on the context and the formality of the situation.
If you want to be able to understand all the different "welcome" words and phrases in French, check out this article. Below we will show you different expressions and explain the context in which each phrase will sound appropriate.
One thing you need to remember is that you won't use the same word for "welcome" as you'd do to say "you're welcome." So when you’re saying “welcome,” you will not say "de rien," "il n'y a pas de quoi," "je vous en prie," or "pas de problème."
The only place where it is appropriate to use the same word for both meanings is Canada, where you can say "bienvenue" instead of “you're welcome”. However, don't say that in France or any other French-speaking countries.
Now, are you ready to boost your vocabulary? Then let's start with the classic way of saying "welcome" in French.
The Classic Bienvenue
If you want to say "welcome" in French in the simplest and quickest way, use "bienvenue." You don't have to add anything - this word can be used on its own in both formal and informal situations.
Moreover, you don't have to make it agree with the number or gender of the people you're talking to. While "bienvenue" is a combination of two words, bien (good) and venue (a conjugated verb venir, to come) in this sentence, it's used as a noun.
So, whether you're talking to one person or a group of people, at school, at work, or in the street, you can always say Bienvenue ! and it will always be correct.
Bienvenue à/au/à la/aux/chez/sur
If you want to say "welcome to (a place)" in French, you will use different prepositions with the traditional "bienvenue." For example, when talking about cities or certain locations, you would say "bienvenue à," as in "bienvenue à Paris."
When you’re on a location such as a boat, a campus, or a website, you can say "bienvenue sur" - for example, when used on a website ("bienvenue sur mon site.") You can use "bienvenue chez" when talking about a place that someone owns ("bienvenue chez moi.")
On the other hand, if you want to say "welcome to (someone,)” as in "welcome to you all," you would use the same preposition à as above.
For example, Bienvenue à tous (welcome to all of you/welcome, everyone).
The Slightly Formal Sois le bienvenu/Soyez les bienvenus
This is a slightly more formal way to say "welcome" in French, and it literally means "please be welcome."
Note that in this sentence, "bienvenue" is an adjective, so it has to agree with the number and gender of the people you're talking to.
The word sois/soyez that you might not know is actually a conjugated form of the verb être (to be) in the imperative.
When to use this phrase? In slightly formal situations - for example, when you've invited people you don't know very well to your house for dinner.
Sois le bienvenu/Soyez les bienvenus
Welcome (more formal)
The Formal Souhaiter la bienvenue à quelqu’un
If you need to welcome someone in a formal way - for example, at your workplace, you can use this longer phrase, “souhaiter la bienvenue à quelqu’un.” This phrase literally means "to bid someone welcome." Note that this is a polite construction that you should adjust to the appropriate form so that it suits the situation.
To say this phrase correctly, you would use reflective pronouns and conjugate the verb souhaiter. This way, you get the following formula:
- subject + object + the verb souhaiter + la bienvenue.
Je te souhaite la bienvenue.
I bid you welcome.
Fais comme chez toi/Faites comme chez vous
Of course, you don't have to directly say "welcome" to someone to tell them they're welcome. Instead, you can say, for example, "make yourself at home" - fais comme chez toi or faites comme chez vous.
Fais comme chez toi/Faites comme chez vous.
Make yourself at home.
This expression literally means: "act like you're at your place." By saying that, you invite the other person to feel at ease.
What to remember here? The word fais/faites - which is actually an imperative form of the verb faire.
Another common way to show someone they're welcome in French is to say "make yourself comfortable." For that, you would use the phrase installe-toi or installez-vous which basically means "settle yourself in."
Settle yourself in (make yourself at home.)
Of course, this one is pretty informal, so use it only in casual situations - for example, when you have a friend coming over.
Other Ways to Say "Welcome" in French
In English and other foreign languages, there are several phrases that include the word "welcome" but don't directly mean welcoming someone to a certain place. Those are, for example, "you're welcome to do something" or "to be welcome" regarding an event.
When talking to native speakers formally, you might often see or hear the phrase "Nous vous invitons à…" (we welcome you to...) which is an alternative to the English phrase "you're welcome to...".
Nous vous invitons à…
We welcome you to...
As for the second phrase, “to be welcome,” you can literally translate it as "être le/la/les bienvenu(e)(s)" - and it would be completely okay to use it that way. For example:
Toutes suggestions sont les bienvenues.
Any suggestions are welcome.
Please note that here the adjective "bienvenue" has to agree with the subject of the sentence.
How to Respond to "Welcome" in French
There's no correct response to the "welcome" phrases in French. Like in English or any other language, you can say Merci (thank you) or Merci de me recevoir (thank you for having me).
You could also say something like Vous avez une belle maison (you have a lovely home) or Votre maison est magnifique (your house is magnificent). Show that you're grateful, say a few compliments - and this should be enough.
Merci de me recevoir.
Thank you for having me.
Merci pour votre accueil.
Thanks for your warm welcome.
Vous avez une belle maison.
You have a lovely home.
Votre maison est magnifique.
Your house is magnificent.
Here they are - the common phrases used to say "welcome" in French. These are pretty simple, so you shouldn't have a hard time memorizing them. Moreover, they are pretty direct, so you can be clear about which phrase to use when.
However, as we always say, practice is key - and if you want to speak French fluently and use the necessary vocabulary naturally in the sentences, you need to study. For that, we recommend downloading our app - Langster.
There, you won't just be able to learn how to say "welcome" in French in the right context. You will also read and listen to interesting news and stories from all over the world, master new words, and do a short quiz after every story.
Engaging, interesting, and unlike traditional lessons in any way - the app is a great way to practice your language skills. So why not give it a try? Learn languages the fun way with Langster - and read our blog if you want to learn more about the French language.