French Tattoos: 62 Sayings, Words, and Ideas

Get inspiration with the best phrases, words, and sayings for that perfect French tattoo you will adore.
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It isn’t easy finding the perfect tattoo. It is meant to last forever after all. And if you are thinking of a tattoo in French when it is not your first language, it becomes even harder.

But there is that certain je ne sais quoi about having a tattoo in French. The language of romance has some excellent french words for tattoos, with plenty of meaning.

These days more people than ever are getting inked – and that means it is harder to stand out. Whether you’re looking for a tasteful word tattoo or something more intricate, French tattoos offer a wide variety of significance and articulation.

From classic quotes to colorful modern expressions, there’s a style to fit every taste. But beware of the potential for spelling mistakes!

And so with that, here are the best words and phrases for French tattoos, as well as a collection of French symbols that would make a gorgeous tattoo that you can be proud of.

I. Words Tattoos

1. Amour

Amour tattooed on back

Translation: Love

Love makes the world go round as they say, so you can’t go wrong with Amour. Other variations are:

  • mon amour – my love
  • l’amour de ma vie – the love of my life

You can read more French expressions of love here.

2. Rêver

Translation: To dream

Ça fait rêver, meaning “that makes one dream”. A dream is a wish your heart makes, so why not get the french word Rêver as a tattoo? Other variations could be:

  • rêveur – dreamer (masculine)
  • rêveuse – dreamer (feminine)
Bonheur - French word tattoo on upper arm

3. Bonheur

Translation: Happiness

Imagine, finding that perfect tattoo and the feeling after: Que du bonheur! meaning Only happiness! Other variations could be:

  • quelle bonheur – so much happiness

☞ READ MORE: French travel phrases you need for a trip to France

4. Pétillant(e)

Translation: Sparkling or full of life

If you are someone who is full of personality, you may consider the French word pétillant as a tattoo. Note the e is added at the end of females.

5. Déesse

Translation: Goddess

If you know yourself to be a Goddess (female), consider the word Déesse. Other variations include Dieu for males.

Formidable - French tattoo on arm

6. Formidable

Translation: Wonderful or Tremendous

Formidable in French means “wonderful”. It shouldn’t be confused with the English faux amis (false friend) formidable which means “inspiring fear” or “intimidating”.

You can listen to a famous French song by Stromae called Formidable here.

7. Soleil

Translation: Sun

For a more gender-neutral French word, there is the sun. Sun is masculine, but mon soleil meaning my sun, can refer to male or female.

8. Sagesse

Translation: Wisdom

Another wonderful French word for a tattoo is sagesse, meaning wisdom (your own of course).

Used in a sentence is the famous quote: “La sagesse est plus précieuse que les perles, elle a plus de valeur que tous les objets de prix.” It means “Wisdom is more valuable than pearls, it is more valuable than any expensive item.”

9. Audace

Translation: Boldness

If you need a bit of audacity in your life, there is the French word Audace. Be bold and be free.

Esprit libre French tattoo on back

10. Esprit Libre

Translation: Free spirit

And speaking of being free, we have the one who is an esprit libre, meaning “free spirit”.

Used in a phrase, we have “L’esprit libre et curieux est ce qui a le plus de prix au monde.” It means “the free and curious mind of man is the most valuable thing in the world.”

11. Belle âme

Translation: Beautiful soul

If you want to honor that beautiful soul in your life, why not get a tattoo of Belle âme.

12. Chéri(e)

Translation: My dear

A simple word for someone who means so much to you, chéri says it all. Note, if you are referring to a much-loved female, add an e to chéri. Other variations include:

  • mon chéri – my dear (masculine)
  • ma chérie – my dear (feminine)

You can find more French nicknames and terms of endearment here.

II. French sayings and phrases

c'est la vie - tattoo in french on belly

1. C’est la vie

Translation: That’s life

If you are looking for a classic French catchphrase, it is c’est la vie. When dealing with life’s ups and downs, give a shrug of the shoulders, look at your tattoo, and don’t let it get you down. C’est la vie.

2. L’espoir fait vivre

Translation: Hope makes one alive.

As the saying goes, hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Life in hope with the French affirmation “l’espoir fait vivre“, which would make a lovely tattoo.

3. Joie de Vivre

Translation: Joy of living

The French penchant of seeking the joie de vivre in every moment is legendary. Remind yourself to seek out the joy of life with this classic French phrase as a tattoo.

4. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux

Translation: The essential is invisible to the eyes.

This classic quote comes from French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his famous book Le Petit Prince. The story follows a young prince who visits various planets (including Earth) making observations about life and human nature.

la vie en rose tattoo

5. La vie en rose

Translation: Life in rose pink

The phrase comes from the song “La vie en rose” made most popular by the iconic French musician Edith Piaf. Seeing the world in rose-colored glasses, despite whatever it may throw at you.

☞ READ MORE: Funny and Interesting Quotes about France

6. La vie est belle

Translation: Life is beautiful

Appreciate life with the classic French quote “La vie est belle“. Other variations would be:

  • Belle est la vie – Beautiful is life

7. Il était une fois

Translation: Once upon a time

Just as all English fairytales start with “Once upon a time”, French fairy tales start with “Il était une fois“. Start your own fairytale with this sweeping French tattoo.

8. Crois en moi

Translation: Believe in me

A wonderful self-affirmation would be a French word tattoo with “crois en moi” to show the world your strength. Another variation would be:

  • Crois-en toi – Believe in yourself

9. Pourquoi pas

Translation: Why not?

If you ever find yourself holding back from doing something, ask yourself pourquoi pas? Sometimes the things that hold us back are only in our minds, so give yourself a visual cue to take that step forward. Other variations can be:

  • oui, pourquoi? – yes, but why?

10. Sois toi-même

Translation: Be yourself

Drop the masks and don’t smile if you don’t want to. Be yourself, and the rest will come.

III. About Strength

1. Tout est possible

Translation: Everything is possible

As the English saying goes, the world is your oyster. Everything is possible, tout est possible, if you take advantage of every opportunity.

2. Jusqu’au bout

Translation: Until the end

If you are ready to give it all you got, right up to the end, why not get a tattoo of Jusqu’au bout? A simple way to acknowledge the fighter in you.

3. Tout va pour le mieux

Translation: Everything is going for the better

Keep up that positive spirit with tout va pour le mieux. It is all in the attitude, as they say, so show them what you got with this invigorating French tattoo.

4. Tout va bien se passer

Translation: Everything will work out

Things may not be perfect at the moment, but like a cat, you are going to land on your feet. Keep your eye on the prize (or the tattoo) and your focus and drive will make things happen.

Non, Je ne regrette rien - French tattoo

5. Non, Je ne regrette rien

Translation: No, I regret nothing

It is possible that every Edith Piaf song will make a great tattoo, but Non, Je ne regrette rien, is really one of those incontournables (unmissable items).

6. Je suis fort(e)

Translation: I am strong

You are only as strong as you think you are, so remind yourself daily with this powerful declaration for a life-changing French tattoo.

Note: Females should add an e at the end to fort.

Quand on est tombé, il faut savoir se relever - french tattoo on back

7. Quand on est tombé, il faut savoir se relever

Translation: When one has fallen, one must know how to arise again.

Don’t let that fallen hurdle get you down. Tell yourself to get back up and get going.

8. Croire l’im­pos­sible

Translation: Believe in the impossible.

Dream the impossible dream and reach for the stars. Croire l’im­pos­sible in French will make a fresh and inspiring tattoo.

Ja­mais un échec, tou­jours une le­çon  - french tattoo on hand

9. Ja­mais un échec, tou­jours une le­çon 

Translation: Never a failure, always a lesson.

Learn from your failures and know how to move past them with this galvanizing French tattoo.

10. Le temps est main­te­nant

Translation: The time is now.

The time for action is now. As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. So get going.

11. Qui n’avance pas, recule.

Translation: Who doesn’t advance, goes backwards.

Like a wheelbarrow on a hill, you really have to keep pushing forward. You can find more inspirational French quotes here.

12. La vie conti­nue

Translation: Life continues.

“Life goes on and so do we, just how we do it is no mystery.” Reaffirm your faith after a fall, with this motivational French tattoo.

Vi­sez la lune - French tattoo on the back

13. Vi­sez la lune

Translation: Aim for the moon.

Reach for the sky and aim for the moon, as the saying goes with this compelling tattoo.

14. Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire.

Translation: When the wine is poured, it must be drunk.

If you enjoy wine, this just might be the tattoo for you. You can find more French wine quotes here.

15. Dans la vie, tout est signe

Translation: In life, everything is a sign.

To navigate through the journey of life, you have to know how to read the signposts. Seize every opportunity and move with confidence with this exalting French tattoo.

16. On ne fait pas d’omelette sans casser d’œufs.

Translation: One doesn’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Sometimes you just have to knock a few heads in to get to where you need to go. An interesting French food quotes, that makes for an original tattoo.

IV. About Family

1. Toi et Moi

Translation: You and me

Transcribe your love for each other in ink, with matching toi et moi tattoos, while listening to French singer Guillaume Grand’s croon out his love with lyrics of the same name. You can listen to his song and more French love songs here.

2. Tu as mon cœur

Translation: You have my heart

You know who it is, the one who holds your heart in the palm of their hands. Get this tattoo for that special someone.

Complice tattoo in French - tattoo on wrist

3. Complice

Translation: Partner-in-crime

Get matching tattoos with your complice aka partner-in-crime who has always been there for you and promises to always do so. For better or for worse.

4. Toujours dans mon coeur

Translation: Always in my heart

With a melancholic sentiment, get toujours dans mon coeur tattooed over your heart for the one you miss.

5. La mort n’arrête pas l’amour

Translation: Death doesn’t end love

For poignant tattoo, the famous quote La mort n’arrête pas l’amour comes to mind. You can read more French quotes about life and death here.

L'amour avant tout - tattoo in french

6. L’amour avant tout

Translation: Love before everything

You know what you are taking the steps you take. Love before everything, and your loved ones before everyone.

7. Être là, maintenant

Translation: Be here now

Maybe you haven’t always been there in the past, but remembering to be present now, is the French phrase Être là, maintenant.

8. Je t’aime

Translation: I love you

The classic declaration of love can be the genuinely sincere French tattoo that you are looking for. Other variations would include adding the name of your loved one to it, as in “Je t’aime, Julie“.

You can read more French romantic phrases here.

La famille avant tout - French tattoo

9. La famille avant tout

Translation: Family before everything

Put your French family first, with this visible reminder during that daily grind. A wonderful testament to the ones you hold close.

You can read more French quotes about family here.

10. Amour sans fin

Translation: Endless love

Does your love know no bounds? Prove it with this this loving French phrase that would make an excellent tattoo.

11. Cœur fidèle

Translation: Faithful heart

The anglophone stereotype is that French people are more likely to cheat on their partner than other countries, and hence was born the French phrase “Cœur fidèle.

Whether or not this is true, you can read more about the French views on love and romance here.

12. On ne peut vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche

Translation: One can live on love and fresh water.

One of the famous French quotes about love declares that you don’t need anything else to survive, just love and water. You can read more interesting French love quotes here, before getting a tattoo.

Flowers and Symbols

muguet for a tattoo

1. Muguet

The muguet, known in English as the lily of the valley, has an important significance in French culture. It is a flower traditionally offered in France at the start of May as a token of the coming spring and to bring luck.

The 1st of May is also Labor day in France and a public holiday in France, making it a special day to celebrate with a bouquet of flowers.

lavender illustration for tattoo

2. Lavender

Straight from the lavender fields of Provence, this delicate flower with its sweet scent will remind you of sun-filled days in the South of France.

fleur de lys tattoo

3. Fleur de Lys

As the symbol of French royalty, you will see the fleur de lys all over France’s historical monuments. Queen Marie-Antoinette may have lost her head, but the majestical masterpieces built by the Kings and Queens of France reigns on.

coq illustration tattoo

4. The Coq

If you have ever watched the French team in action at the Olympics, you will notice that one of the symbols of France is the coq (rooster). The coq symbol adorns French national team uniforms in many variational designs, as well as in many other places.

You can read more facts about France here.

marianne tattoo illustration

5. Marianne

Another one of the main symbols of France is the female figure known as Marianne. Usually dressed in white, with a red Phrygian cap (a soft conical cap with the apex bent over), she became a symbol after the French Revolution and her model is displayed in all official buildings today.

french flag

6. French Flag

You can’t get more French than the French flag. Get a small tattoo on the drapeau bleu blanc rouge to declare your love for France. You can identify with for a regional flag of France, if you choose.

Eiffel tower for tattoo

7. Eiffel Tower

If Paris is where your heart lies, why not get a tattoo of the Eiffel Tower? The symbol of the city that has endured more than 130 years. You can read more facts about Paris here.

two wine glasses for tattoo

8. Wine Glass

With several wine-producing regions in France, there is no question that French wines are legendary. From champagnes to bordeaux, there are wines for everyone. For wine lovers, a drawing of a wine glass could be the tattoo for you.

escargot illustration for tattoo

9. Snail

One of the most famous French delicacies, once you taste escargot you will wonder why you waited so long to try it. So what could be more French than getting a tattoo of a little snail?

You can read more French food facts here.

Croissant illustration for tattoo

11. Croissant

If not a macaron, perhaps a croissant? The breakfast food of champions! (Not really, if you start counting calories, but we wish it could be.)

macarons illustration for tattoo

10. Macarons

France may have many wonderful desserts, but the macaron has become more than just a dessert to transform into a symbol.

2 baguettes illustration for tattoo

12. Baguette

Just remember the anglophone joke: if you walk into a boulangerie (bakery) for a baguette, and can’t remember if you should ask for un baguette or une baguette, just ask for deux (two) baguettes. Or maybe two tattoos?


So have you found your perfect French tattoo? For more inspiration, check out our favorite French quotes and sayings. A bientôt!

¹ Featured Image: Burst

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