Learn How To Begin and End Your French Letters With These Helpful Examples

By Audrey Alleyne

The beginning and ending of French letters should be carefully studied in order to be correct according to French etiquette. The French forms are different and flowery, but then we all know that French is a beautiful language.

Business Letter Headings

We all know that French is an absolutely charming language. We also know that the French are noted for their politeness. A combination of these two attributes join together to express themselves at their very best in the beginnings and endings of French correspondence.

The heading of a business letter is straightforward. We use the well-known forms of address “Monsieur" or “Madame," or we can write “Cher Monsieur" or “Chère Madame" to express the English equivalent of “Dear Sir" or “Dear Madam." However, the phrase with which you sign off a French letter is quite elaborate.

The use of “veuillez" in a business letter

You may be familiar with the verb “vouloir" to express requests or to invite someone to do something. For example: “Voulez-vous danser avec moi?" In ending French letters, the second person imperative form of this verb, which is “veuillez," is the form that is used. Here are two examples for ending a business letter.

  1. Veuillez agréer, Monsieur/ Madame, l’assurance de mes sentiments les plus distingues.
  2. Veuillez agreer, Monsieur/Madame nos salutations distinguées.
  3. Veuillez croire, Monsieur/ madame, en nos salutations les meilleures.

Any one of these can be used to express the English equivalent “Yours faithfully" or “Yours sincerely."

If you do not wish to use “veuillez", you can also use the expression “Je vous prie…"

Here are some examples:

Je vous prie d’agréer mes sentiments les meilleurs

Je vous prie d’agréer l’assurance de mes respectueuses salutations

Je vous prie de bien vouloir recevoir, Monsieur, l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués.

These all mean « Yours faithfully. »

Opening Lines (Business)

After you greet the recipient of your business letter, you may need to express apology or thanks in your opening lines; for example:

Nous accusons réception de votre lettre

We acknowledge receipt of your letter.

J’ai le plaisir de

I am glad to

J’ai le regret de

I regret to

Winding up

Just before you end your business letter, you need to wind up. You can use:

En attendant le plaisir de vous lire

I look forward to hearing from you

A bientôt de vous lire

I hope to hear from you soon

Dans l’attente de vous lire a ce sujet, par retour

In anticipation of hearing from you by return

Here is a complete winding up and ending :

Dans l’attente de votre réponse, veuillez recevoir, Cher Monsieur/Chère Madame, l’expression de mes sentiments

Bien sincèrement(your name)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely (your name.)

Friends and Relatives

Friends and relatives

How do we begin and end letters to friends and relatives? Here are some examples:

Cher Michel, Chère Marie-Laure

Dear Michel, Dear Marie-Laure

Cher ami, Chère amie

Dear friend

Mon cher Jacques, Ma chère Marie

My dear Jacques, My dear Marie

These greetings can be followed by the following :

Je te remercie de ta dernière lettre

Thank you for your last letter

J’ai été content(e) d’avoir de tes nouvelles

I was glad to have your news

Ta lettre m’a fait plaisir

I was pleased to receive your letter

J’ai bien reçu ta lettre du 23 mai

I received your letter dated May 23rd.

Je te présente mes excuses

I apologize

Winding up

You can wind up before ending the letter with any of the following:

Je te quitte

I must leave you

Je te souhaite bonne chance

I wish you luck

Bonjour de ma part à ta famille

Give my regards to your family

Ecris-moi bientôt

Write soon

Signing off

You can then sign off with:

Bien à toi

Best wishes

A bientôt

I’ll hear from you soon

Je t’embrasse bien fort

With much love

Bons baisers/Grosses bises

Love and kisses

Meilleurs amities

Sincerely

Très amicalement

With very best wishes

There are many other expressions which you can research. Here is a good website where you can read more about the beginning and ending of French letters, and how to write the body of a letter. Bonne chance!