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
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.
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)
Imagine, finding that perfect tattoo and the feeling after: Que du bonheur! meaning Only happiness! Other variations could be:
- quelle bonheur – so much happiness
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.
If you know yourself to be a Goddess (female), consider the word Déesse. Other variations include Dieu for males.
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”.
For a more unisex French word, there is the sun. Sun is masculine, but mon soleil meaning my sun, can refer to male or female.
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.”
If you need a bit of audacity in your life, there is the French word Audace. Be bold and be free.
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.
Translation: My dear
A simple word for someone who means so much to you, chéri says it all. Note, if you are a male and want to refer 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
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.
5. La vie en rose
Translation: Life in rose pink
The phrase made most popular by the eternal Edith Piaf continues to live on. Seeing the world in rose-colored glasses, despite whatever it may throw at you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. La famille avant tout
Translation: Family before everything
Put family first, with this visible reminder during that daily grind. A wonderful testament to the ones you hold close.
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 sex 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
The muguet, known in English as the lily of the valley, has an important significance in French culture. It is traditionally offered in France at the start of May as a token of the coming spring and to bring good 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.
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. You can read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
France may have many wonderful desserts, but the macaron has become more than just a dessert to transform into a symbol.
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.
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