French Building Vocabulary Posted by on Mar 9, 2021 in Vocabulary

Last week’s post got me thinking about French building vocabulary. The buildings people live in, the lives they live there. This week let’s look at the language of building.

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French Building Vocabulary

Les immeubles1The French word for furniture is les meubles. Les meubles historically referred to people’s property that could be moved, les immeubles referred to property that could not be moved. Both words share a root with the word movable.

le bâtiment
the building, also construction
la tour
the tower
le gratte-ciel
the skyscraper
le bureau
the office, also the desk
la maison
the house
the apartment
the floor, the story (of a building)
the elevator
the stairway


A la maison

Les pièces
The rooms
La cuisine
The kitchen
La salle à manger
The dining room
Le salon
The livingroom
Le living / la salle de séjour
The family / rec room
La chambre à coucher
The bedroom
La salle de bain
The bathroom
Les toilettes
The bathroom
Le grenier
The attic
La cave / le sous-sol
The basement

La salle de bain ou les toilettes?

The first time I went out with friends as a young man in Paris, still learning French, I remember asking “Où est la salle de bain?” when I needed to go to the restroom. It was that night that I learned that the word I had learned in high schools French as the bathroom was literally the room where the bathtub is! And while many salles de bain have toilets in them, the correct term to use when you’re out at a restaurant – or even at someone’s house – looking for the facilities, the right thing to ask is “Où sont les toilettes?”2Note: It’s considered more polite in French to ask for les toilettes (plural) instead of la toilette (singular).

Les murs
The walls
Le plafond
The ceiling
Le plancher
The floor
La fenêtre
The window
La porte
The door
Le toit
The roof

Les activités à la maison

Que fait-on dans la cuisine?3What does one do in the kitchen?
On prépare les repas4on peut aussi dire cuisiner ou faire la cuisine dans la cuisine.5One prepares meals in the kitchen.
On mange.
6One eats.
On lave la vaisselle.
7One washes dishes.

Que fait-on dans la salle à manger?
On mange dans la salle à manger.

Que fait-on dans le salon, la salle de séjour, et le living?
On regarde la télévision, on écoute de la musique, et on joue des jeux de société.8One watches television, one listens to music, and one plays board games/party games.

Que fait-on dans la chambre à coucher?
On dort dans la chambre à coucher.9One sleeps in the bathroom.

La Défense

As mentioned last week, Paris had a long-standing ban on construction of tall buildings within the city limits. This lead to a boom in an area known as La Défense just west of the city.

Centered around a large pedestrian esplanade – home to the CNIT, the Grande Arche de la Défense, and many works of public art – La Défense is Paris’s business and financial district. Numerous entreprises françaises et étrangères10businesses, French and foreign, many housed in the areas miriad tours11towers, call it home.

The concentration of gratte-ciels12skyscrapers; lit. sky scratchers is already impressive to see … and soon to get more impressive.

You can learn more about the history of La Defense in this documentary from and see some of the future plans that will soon transform the skyline here.

French Culture – Architectural Oddities

French Vocabulary: Housing

Taking A Shower In French

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris

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