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Birthdays, however are a trickier thing that has to be remembered for each person. Maybe you have a French-speaking friend or relative and you want to earn some brownie points. In this post, you’ll learn all about saying “happy birthday” in French like a pro.

There are several ways to express the idea in French. You should also know that not all French-speakers say it the same way, so you’ll learn a few expressions to make sure that you’re ready for any situation no matter where you are.

The Standard Ways to Say “Happy Birthday” in French

Let’s start with the two most common expressions for saying “happy birthday” in French. The first is more or less the standard in European French.

Joyeux anniversaire ! Happy Birthday!

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The phrase is pronounced something like “zhwah-yeuh⤻zah-nee-veR-seR”. Keep in mind that a liason occurs between the two words, so there’s a nice zzz sound at the beginning of anniversaire.

The other most common phrase to use on someone’s birthday is:

Bon anniversaire ! Happy Birthday!

While joyeux anniversaire means “happy birthday” in a more general way, bon anniversaire implies wishing the listener to experience a good birthday. Something like “have a good birthday”.

As with joyeux anniversaire, a liason occurs and the last sound of the first word moves to the beginning of the second. So you should start the second part with an n sound.

Bon anniversaire boh⤻nah-nee-veR-seR

Saying “Happy Birthday” in Canadian French

Joyeux anniversaire or bon anniversaire are the standard ways to wish someone happy birthday in French. But if you’re studying Canadian French (Quebecois) or just want to extend birthday wishes to a French-Canadian friend, you would say Bonne Fête– literally, “Good party/celebration”.

That seems pretty straightforward, but if you’re also communicating with French speakers from other places, be careful: Bonne fête has a completely different meaning in other parts of the francophone world.

If you say “Bonne fête” to a French speaker who isn’t from Canada, they’ll think you’re referring to their saint’s day. Also known as a “name day” in English, this is the feast day of the saint whose name they share. For example, if you have a friend named Julien, his saint’s day is August 2, as noted in Frenchtogether.

Other ways to say “Happy Birthday” in French

If you want to pull out all the stops and say more than a simple phrase, an internet search like “façons originales de dire ‘joyeux anniversaire’” is a good idea. Lots of sites will give you some eloquent phrases or quotations to use, which is noted in Frenchtogether.

Or, if you want to create your own birthday message, you could start with Joyeux anniversaire (or whichever variant you prefer) and then add something you wish for the person – for example: Joyeux anniversaire! Que du bonheur pour cette prochaine année de vie.” (Nothing but happiness in this next year of your life) or something you appreciate about them: Joyeux anniversaire à un super copain (Happy birthday to an awesome friend).

Best Wishes and Quotes Birthday in French

Let’s see how you could wish him/her a happy birthday in French: We’ll give you the typical French birthday wish and examples of more creative ones.

Mon Aimé ami, tu es comme le bon vin. Tu as du caractère, tu as du goût, tu mets l’ambiance dans les soirées, tu te bonifies avec le temps et chaque moment partagé avec toi est une joie. C’est sûr, l’année de ta naissance est un bon millésime et toi, tu es un grand cru ! Alors, quand est-ce que l’on trinque à ton anniversaire ?

(My Beloved friend, you are like a good wine. You have character, taste, you have made the atmosphere in the evenings, you get soft over time and shared every moment with joy. You’re a great vintage! So when do we toast to your birthday?)

Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous apporter la paix et le bonheur en ce jour spécial, ainsi que tous les jours. Bon anniversaire

(God bless you and bring you peace and happiness on this special day and every day. Happy Birthday)

Qu’il y ait des joies et des surprises de toutes sortes au cours de cette journée de ton anniversaire. Le Des moments dont tu auras plaisir à te rappeler puisqu’ils auront marqué une bien belle journée. Bonne Fête!

(There are all kinds of joys and surprises during your birthday. The moments which you will remember with pleasure as they will have marked a beautiful day. Happy Birthday!)

Je vous souhaite longue amitié, l’affection et précieux souvenirs des moments que nous avons partagés. Joyeux anniversaire mec

(I wish you long friendship, affection and memories of precious moments we shared. Happy Birthday dude)

Puissiez-vous surmonter toutes les difficultés et les défis qui viennent dans votre vie !! Joyeux anniversaire à toi!

(May you overcome all difficulties and challenges that come in your life !! Happy Birthday to You!)

Une autre année s’est écoulée et permet-moi de te dire combien nous comptons sur toi plutôt que de compter les années. Je te souhaite un merveilleux anniversaire.

(Another year has been passed and it allows me to tell you how much we depend on you rather than counting years. I wish you a wonderful birthday.)

Si je t’offre mes meilleurs voeux, c’est que je désire pour toi un bonheur merveilleux.Bon Fête! Bon anniversaire

( I can offer you my best wishes is that I wish for you happiness .Happy Day Happy Birthday)

And the most important thing when a birthday comes is a proper present. In France, the birthday presents are like everywhere else. It totally depends on the age of the birthday boy/girl. Gift cards are trendy for teens, but adults seem to prefer a well chosen gift. If you are invited to a birthday in France and don’t know what to bring, chocolates are a safe bet. Flowers may need to be put into water which is not always convient for the host. If you know the birthday boy/girl drinks alcohol, then a bottle of wine or spirit is also a good choice.

So there you have it. You should be ready to wish someone a good birthday no matter where you find yourself and what kind of French speaker you find yourself with. Now you can feel confident to go up to your Francophone friends and family to wish them a very bon anniversaire.

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