Bonjour is an important word in France, a vital part of the social ritual that you will use dozens of times every day.
There are some more casual alternatives for use among friends – the saluts and coucous – but each of France's regional languages also have their own greetings that you may hear in certain areas.
There are no non-French-speaking areas of France, so you never need to worry about your bonjour being incorrect, but here are some bonjour alternatives that are used in certain regions.
Adieu / Adieu-siastz
The south west French region of Occitanie is known for its regional language Occitan – there are even bilingual schools where children are taught both in French and in Occitan.
When visiting the region, you might hear greetings of “adieu” or “adieu-siatz”. Both mean the same but are to be used in different circumstances.
When you want to say good morning to a person that you tutoie (a friend or someone in an informal situation) you can use “adieu”, but if you want to do so to a person you vouvoie or to a group of people at the same time, you’ll have to say “adieu-siatz”.
It means soyez à Dieu, which can be translated as “be with God”.
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The northern French region of Brittany also has its own language – and a strong independence movement. Breton is taught at school and can even be a subject chosen by high-schoolers when they take their baccalauréat.
According to the Trésor Breton website, although “demat” or “deiz mat” is the equivalent of bonjour, it is quite impersonal and mainly used in writing.
Instead, Britany inhabitants are more likely to directly asked how you are doing using expressions such as “mont a ra” or “mat ar jeu”.
“Salud dit” can also be used, meaning “hey you”.
Breton school textbooks. Photo: AFP
In Corsica, several dialects cohabit in the different cities of the island. In this way someone from Ajaccio (Southern Corsica) may not use the same words as someone from Bastia (Northern Corsica).
Regarding words to greet people, “bonghjornu” or “bona sera” are the most used ones – reflecting the Italian influence over the island which only became part of France in 1768 after being ceded by Genoa.
“Salute” can also be said as a less familiar equivalent to the classic salut.
The French Basque Country has also its own way of saying bonjour.
The region situated in the west of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département has a language known as Euskara or Basque. The Basque country is mostly in Spain but also encompasses some parts of south west France. There are different dialects and even subdialects within the language, which bears virtually no similarity to either French or Spanish.
In order to say hello, you can use either “egun” on or “kaixo”.
In Eastern France, the Alsace département (Grand-Est region) also has its dialect.
Because of its geographical (and historical) closeness with Germany, the alsacien language mixes German and French. The pronunciation of certain words can differ regarding where you are in Alsace.
When wanting to use this dialect, say “buschur” instead of the classic bonjour.
This one may just be the easiest to pronounce.
In Guadeloupean creole, you only have to erase the final ‘r’ at the end of bonjour in order to salute in the local way, since creole has basis of French in which words and pronunciations have changed throughout the years.