8 common ways to say good night in French | With audio

Sleep: It’s one of those things that unites us all. No matter our culture or the language we speak, we all do it.

With that in mind, you may be wondering how to wish someone “Good night” in French.

No need to lose any sleep over it! Here are four ways to say “Good night” in French.

How to say “Good night” in French

1. Bonne nuit  – Good night

Bonne nuit literally means “Good night” and is used the same way as in English. It can be said to anyone, and is the easiest, most basic nighttime farewell.

That said, be sure not to confuse it with Bonne soirée – Good evening.  While “Good evening” in English is a very formal expression, often associated with old-school vampires, it’s very common in French.  Bonne soirée is used to end an evening or nighttime conversation with anyone that you’re not directly seeing off to bed.  

For example, if I’m in a grocery store late at night, I would wish the cashier Bonne soirée (and they would do the same to me) because they’re not in front of me in their pajamas, and I’m not staying at their house and aware that they’re headed to their bedroom for the night.

On the other hand, if I’m at my in-laws’ house and we’re all going to our bedrooms to sleep, I would wish them Bonne nuit.

Other alternatives include:

  • Bonne nuit tout le monde – Good night everyone
  • Bonne nuit à tous – Good night to all
  • Bonne nuit mon amour – Good night my love
  • Je vous/te souhaite une bonne nuit – I wish you a good night

2. Dors bien – Sleep well

Meaning “sleep well,” dors bien can also be used in the imperative form with vous: Dormez bien.  But this would probably mean you’re talking to multiple people, not that you’re addressing someone in a formal context, since, in most cases at least, this expression tends to reflect a certain tenderness and closeness.  

I could see using it with someone you don’t know very well, however, if you’ve been talking about sleep and it’s late and you know they’ll sleep in a few hours.

For example, if my baker tells me she’s been having trouble sleeping, and the boulangerie is about to close for the evening, depending on the feeling of the conversation, I might say Dormez bien as I leave.  But mostly, it’s used with people close to you, or with someone in a vulnerable situation (someone who is in hospital, a young child, etc.).

3. Fais de beaux rêves – Sweet dreams

Literally, “Make beautiful dreams,” fais de beaux rêves is the French equivalent to the English expression “Sweet dreams.”  

I really love how the French version implies that the sleeper can create their own dreams.  It’s kind of inspiring, in a way. Of course, whenever I have a nightmare or something weird or awkward occur in a dream, I like it less….

This is another expression that would generally be used with someone you’re close with, not in a formal situation. If you used it with vous (Faites de beaux rêves) that would probably be to address multiple people, not in a formal context.

4. Bonne nuit mon amour – Good night my love

“Bonne nuit mon amour” literally translates to “Good night, my love.”

If you want a romantic way to say “Good night” in French, this is a good, basic way to do it.

But it can also show other kinds of love. You may also hear French parents say this to their children, although it’s not particularly common. Even more rare (and viewed by non-pet people as super weird) would be someone saying it to their adored pet.   

What are some other ways to say “Good night” in French?

Close-up of the adorable face of a brown tabby cat with a white face and pink nose, sleeping contentedly on a bed against a pillow.

If you want to wish someone “Good night” in French, your basic choices are very limited. These four about cover it.

In fact, there’s not even a typical saying like “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” in French.

Still, there are some unique options out there. If you want to get creative, an internet search for “Comment souhaiter bonne nuit” leads to some interesting results, like this list of text messages to send your absent sweetheart.


Now that you know how to say “Good night” in French, I’ll leave you with my favorite French lullaby, the popular folk song Au Clair de la lune.

YouTube video

Bonne nuit !

Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.

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  1. Hello,
    A very useful post. One question, if you don’t mind: What is the difference between “je suis fatigué(e)” and “j’ai sommeil”?
    Merci beaucoup!

    Reply
    • Great question! “Je suis fatigué(e) is “I’m tired” while “j’ai sommeil” means “I want to sleep.”

      They could both be used in the same context but “je suis fatigué(e) could also mean you are exhausted but don”t want to sleep. Like “je viens de courir 10 km, je suis fatigué(e)” (I just ran 10 km, I’m tired.)

      Reply

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