La mer means “the sea” in French. By extension, it can sometimes mean “the seaside” as well.
The French tend to be very precise, even in everyday language. Even so, la mer can sometimes mean “ocean” in a general sense. For example, if you say On va passer nos vacances à la mer, people would understand “by the sea/ocean/seaside”. If you’re in geography class, you’d be more precise and use the word océan instead.
- the sea
- (in an abstract sense) seashore
- au bord de la mer (at the seaside/by the sea)
C’est la première fois qu’elle voit la mer.
It’s her first time seeing the sea/ocean.
Cet été, nous passerons nos vacances à la mer.
For our vacation this summer we’ll go to the sea/ocean/seaside.
(“Free man, you will always cherish the sea!/The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul/In the infinite rolling of its waves”)