It’s your French friend’s birthday! How awesome!! Let’s see how you could wish him/her a happy birthday in French: I’ll give you the typical French birthday wish and examples of more creative ones.
What about singing “Happy Birthday” in French? All right, all right, I’ll sing it for you so you can learn how to sing “Joyeux anniversaire” in French with my audio recording 🥳
First, let’s study the most common ways of saying “happy birthday” in French.
This article features audio recordings. Click the blue text next to the headphone to hear me say that word or sentence in French.
Note that when applicable, I used a modern spoken French pronunciation.
How do You Say Happy Birthday in French?
The most traditional way of saying “happy birthday” in French is “joyeux anniversaire“. Play the audio and note the liaison in “z” between the the silent “x” of “joyeux” and the “a” of “anniversaire“.
Is it Bonne or Bon Anniversaire ?
Another very common way of wishing someone a happy birthday in French is to say: “bon anniversaire“.
When you play the audio, you’ll notice I pronounce this “bon” as “bonne”… How come? It’s because the next word “anniversaire” starts with a vowel. Try saying “bon” with a nasal French pronunciation and follow it with “anniversaire”: you’ll see this is not easy to say. And usually, when something is not easy to say, well… we change it! I call this ‘a lazy mouth rule’ 😁 More on French pronunciation.
So, “happy birthday” in French is pronounced like “bonne anniversaire” but it’s spelled “bon anniversaire”.
What Is Anniversary in French?
The word anniversary translates as “anniversaire” in French . To wish someone a happy wedding anniversary for example, we would say: “joyeux anniversaire de mariage“.
So how come we don’t say “joyeux anniversaire de naissance”? I don’t know why, but we just don’t! If you use the word “anniversaire” alone, it refers to birthday by default.
How do You Say Birthday Boy or Birthday Girl in French
Actually, translating birthday boy or birthday girl in French is not as easy as it seems! We don’t have an easy way to say it… We usually would go for “le héro du jour (m) / l’héroïne du jour (f)“: the hero of the day! Or we would say “c’est ta journée / c’est ton jour !“
12 Happy Birthday Wishes in French
Of course, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to wishing “happy birthday” in French… There is no limit to how creative you could be. Your birthday wish could be traditional, tender, fun…
French Birthday Wishes for a Friend 🧍🏻♀️🧍🏾♂️
Please press play on the audio player to play my audio recordings. Note that when applicable, I used a modern spoken French pronunciation.
- Je te souhaite un super anniversaire!
I wish you a great birthday!
- Que cette nouvelle année t’apporte plein de bonheur !
May this new year bring you lots of happiness!
- La santé, l’amour et le bonheur !
Health, love and happiness!
- Je te souhaite pour l’année à venir du bonheur et de l’amour !
I wish you for the upcoming year (plenty of) love and happiness!
- Bon anniversaire mon ami(e) !
Happy birthday my friend!
- Profite bien de ta journée !
Enjoy your day!
- Que cette journée d’anniversaire soit particulièrement heureuse !
May this birthday (day) be particularly happy!
- Quelle belle journée pour fêter ton anniversaire !
What a great day to celebrate your birthday!
- Beaucoup d’amour, du bonheur et plein de beaux moments partagés avec ta famille et tes amis. Bon anniversaire.
Lots of love, happiness and many beautiful moments with your family and friends. Happy birthday.
- Les anniversaires sont très bons pour la santé ! Les personnes qui ont le plus d’anniversaires vivent plus longtemps que les autres !
Birthdays are excellent for your health! People with the most birthdays live longer than others!
French Birthday Wishes for Someone You Love 👩🏻🤝👨🏾
- Aujourd’hui marque la naissance de la personne la plus belle, la plus douce, la plus gentille que je connaisse ! Et oui c’est ton anniversaire ! Je t’aime.
Today marks the birth of the most beautiful, sweetest, kindest person I know! Yeah; it’s your birthday! I love you.
- Je te souhaite tout l’amour, les baisers et les câlins que tu mérites! A ce soir pour recevoir tout cela de ma part !
I wish you all the love, kisses, cuddles that you deserve! See you tonight to get all this from me!
5 French Sarcastic Ways of Wishing Happy Birthday
It’s quite common in France to be sarcastic about your birthday wish and diss the person on their “old” age.
- Joyeux anniversaire ! T’es tellement vieux/vieille qu’il faudra appeler les pompiers pour éteindre toutes tes bougies !
Happy birthday! You’re so old that we’ll have to call the fire brigade to extinguish all your candles! (Why the “t'” instead of “tu”? It’s modern spoken French)
- Tu crois que t’auras assez de souffle pour souffler toutes tes bougies ?
Do you think you’ll have enough air to blow all your candles?
- Bravo pour ton quart/demi de siècle !
Well done for your quarter/half of a century! (When someone turns 25/50)
- Bon anniversaire! Alors la cinquantaine c’est pour bientôt ?
Happy birthday! So turning fifty soon? (for someone in their forties)
- Ça fait quoi d’être vieux/ vieille ?
How does it feel to be old? (you wouldn’t say that to someone actually old though…)
Now let’s see some typical French birthday terms.
18 French Birthday Terms
- Un anniversaire – birthday
- l’anniversaire – birthday
- Des anniversaires – birthdays
- C’est quand, ton anniversaire ? When is your birthday? (casual French)
- Quand est ton anniversaire? When is your birthday (formal French)
- Mon anniversaire est le 16 novembre – My birthday is November 16th (here is how to say the date in French)
- Tu fais quoi pour ton anniversaire ? What are you doing for your birthday? (casual French)
- Qu’est-ce que tu fais pour ton anniversaire ? What are you doing for your birthday (formal yet common French)
- Qu’est-ce que tu as eu pour ton anniversaire ? What did you get for your birthday?
- Tu as quel âge ? How old are you?
- J’ai 48 ans – I’m 48. (Here is my lesson on French numbers – with audio)
- Fêter un anniversaire – to celebrate a birthday
- Un cadeau – gift
- Un gâteau (d’anniversaire) – (birthday) cake
- Une bougie – a candle
- Faire un voeu – to make a wish
- Fais un voeu – make a wish
- Allez, vas-y ! Souffle tes bougies ! Go ahead! Blow your candles!
The Happy Birthday Song in French
Ok, here we go… Play the audio to hear my wonderful rendition of happy birthday in French. As you can see, the lyrics are super complicated…
In France, people sometimes insert the person’s name, in which case it will be “cher/chère X”, but we don’t always do so…
Keep reading, I have more to say about singing “Happy Birthday” in France…
Birthdays in France – Traditions
So what should you expect if you are invited to a birthday party in France? I’ve been to many birthday parties in France as well as in the US, and I would say there are no major differences.
At a birthday in France, you can expect a cake, candles, everybody singing “Joyeux Anniversaire” as demonstrated above.
Birthday Cake in France
The cake tends to be simpler: a simple home-made chocolate cake, sometimes even a fruit tart. It can also be a store-bought cake: you can order it at your local pâtisserie and they will even write “joyeux anniversaire X” on it if you ask!
At one point, everbody will gather, a light switch may be turned off and a lit up cake will appear as everybody sings “Happy Birthday”… in French or in English! Believe it or not, but it’s quite common in France to sing “Happy Birthday” in English: kids in particular seem to love it and start singing “Happy Birthday” in English after the first round of “Joyeux anniversaire”.
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.
Birthday Parties in France
I’ve been to pretty fancy birthday parties for adults in England and the US. Reception halls were rented. Even gowns displayed.
In France, it’s common to organize a birthday party for a special birthday: costumed parties are always fashionable and since the French typically love dancing, it’s common to dance as well. But I’ve never been to a very fancy birthday in France.
For kids, in American films and series, you see parents going out of their way to throw their kid an incredible birthday party with magicians, bouncing castle etc…
I’ve never seen anything like that in France. Or in the US for that matter. Is it the company I keep? Are the fabulous birthday parties featured in American sitcoms a fiction? I’ll let you be the judge of that!
Is it Common to Send Birthday Cards in France?
It’s common in France to send a birthday card, yet, the birthday card selection is far from what it is in English speaking countries!
Nowadays, many people send an SMS, or just a Facebook message.
OK, I think that pretty much rounds it up! Who knew there was so much to say about birthdays in France? If you have a question or remark, or even an anecdote to share, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the section below.