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French Vocabulary – Going to a Café Posted by on May 26, 2009 in News, Vocabulary

I have just read in my international edition of Newsweek that the French government is going to lower its tax rate by 72% on food and drinks at restaurants and cafés this summer hoping that people will start frequenting the country’s beloved cafés again as many are closing due to the financial crisis.  I wrote an article about this some months back.  So, since many of you might be some of those that enjoy that tax cut when on vacation this year, I thought I would give you some vocabulary to help you order.

un Vittel – a famous French brand of mineral water, you can order it even if you just mean you want mineral water
un Perrier (citron) – a famous French brand of carbonated mineral water which you can now get lemon and lime flavored
une menthe à l’eau – this is mineral water with a little bit of mint-flavored syrup
un Coca – a Coke as in Coca Cola
un Orangina – this is an orange and mandarin citrus soda which is very popular in France
une limonade – something like 7Up or Sprite
un citron pressé – lemonade
une orange pressé – like lemonade, but made with oranges (ice, freshly-squeezed orange juice, chilled water and sugar)
un jus d’orange – orange juice
un diabolo menthe – lemonade and mint syrup
une bière allemande – German beer
une bière française – French beer
un demi – 1/4 liter of draught beer
un kir – a drink made of cassis liqueur and a little white wine
un verre de rouge – a glass of red wine
un verre de blanc – a glass of white wine
un lait fraise – a thin, strawberry milk shake
un lait au chocolat – chocolate milk
un chocolat chaud – hot chocolate
un express – espresso coffee
un café au lait – coffee with milk, served in a larger cup (normally for breakfast)
un café crème – coffee with milk, but served in a smaller cup
un thé citron – tea with lemon
un thé nature – just normal tea
un thé au lait – tea with milk 

Why don’t you tell us about your favorite drink to order at a French café or restaurant??

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  1. Sarah:

    My two favorite things to order in a French café:

    un demi pèche – a half pint of beer with peach syrup in it

    un Perrier cassis – Perrier water with blackcurrant syrup – it is so refreshing!

    Another useful term (I have never used it but have noticed it on menus) is ‘un café allongé’ – if you just order ‘un café’ it will be a small cup of espresso, but the café allongé is closer to what you would get if you ordered coffee in the US.

  2. mohamed:

    my favourity drinck un express cofe

  3. Chanda:

    Thanks so much Sarah! I think the ‘demi pèche’ sound very interesting and I will try it the next time I’m in a French café.

  4. heidenkind:

    I liked to order l’eau avec syrup, although I never pronounced syrup correctly. Anyway, the plus of that drink is, it’s really really cheap.

  5. Chanda:

    Here’s a link to a French restaurant drink menu if you’d like to check out prices just to get an idea…

  6. Chanda:

    Thanks for telling us about your favorite drink to order Heidenkind! The correct French spelling is ‘sirop’ and it is pronounced ‘si-ro’. The ‘p’ is silent.

  7. SifuSlim:

    You may wish to add this to popular coffee styles/sizes.

    une noisette: a small, powerful espresso-style coffee