4 Ways to Say Happy Birthday in French

Birthdays are special milestones, and offering heartfelt wishes in the native language of the birthday person adds a thoughtful and personal touch. French, known for its charm and elegance, provides several delightful phrases to convey birthday wishes. Whether you’re a language enthusiast, planning a trip to France, or simply hoping to surprise a friend, learning these phrases will equip you with the ability to express your warm wishes in a language that’s synonymous with love and celebration.

4 ways to say happy birthday in french

Joyeux Anniversaire

The most direct translation and common way of saying ‘Happy Birthday’ in French is “Joyeux Anniversaire.” This phrase is widely used and understood, just like the English ‘Happy Birthday.’


  1. Begin with the word Joyeux (pronounced ‘zhwah-yuh’), which means ‘happy.’
  2. Follow with the word Anniversaire (pronounced ‘ahn-nee-ver-sehr’), which means ‘birthday.’
  3. Put them together to say “Joyeux Anniversaire!”

Saying “Joyeux Anniversaire” is universally accepted and is the go-to way to wish someone well on their birthday in French. It’s a fail-safe option and easily recognized. However, because of its commonality, it may not seem as unique for someone looking for a more distinctive form of birthday greeting.

Bon Anniversaire

Another simple but slightly less common expression is “Bon Anniversaire.” This phrase carries the same sentiment as “Joyeux Anniversaire” but with a slight variation in wording.


  1. Start with the word Bon (pronounced ‘bawn’), meaning ‘good.’
  2. Follow with Anniversaire just as you did previously.
  3. The complete wish is “Bon Anniversaire!”

“Bon Anniversaire” is almost as popular and is as easily understood as “Joyeux Anniversaire.” It delivers a message of good will and celebration. As a benefit, it can sound slightly more sophisticated; however, some might not notice the subtlety of this difference.

Meilleurs Vux

This phrase means ‘best wishes’ and can be a supporting phrase to a birthday wish, or used on its own in a broader sense for any best wishes.


  1. Say Meilleurs (pronounced ‘my-uh’), which means ‘best.’
  2. Then, say Vux (pronounced ‘vuh’), which means ‘wishes.’
  3. Together, they make “Meilleurs Vux!”

Using “Meilleurs Vux” can add variety to your birthday messages or be suitable for a card-signing context. While it may not reference ‘birthday’ directly, it’s an elegant way to express thoughtful sentiments. The downside is that it is less specific than a traditional birthday greeting.

Heureux Anniversaire

This phrase is another variant meaning ‘Happy Birthday,’ with ‘heureux’ translating to ‘happy.’


  1. Pronounce Heureux (‘uh-reuh’) for ‘happy.’
  2. Add Anniversaire afterward.
  3. You get “Heureux Anniversaire.”

“Heureux Anniversaire” is a sophisticated alternative to “Joyeux Anniversaire,” adding a touch more formality to your birthday wish. It might seem a bit more traditional or old-fashioned, which can either be a charming positive or a slight negative, depending on the context and recipient.

Que tous vos souhaits se réalisent!

This means ‘May all your wishes come true!’ and is ideal for a heartfelt birthday message.


  1. Say Que (pronounced ‘kuh’).
  2. Follow with tous vos souhaits (‘too vo swet’) for ‘all your wishes.’
  3. End with se réalisent (‘suh rey-ah-lees’) for ‘come true.’
  4. The phrase comes together as “Que tous vos souhaits se réalisent!”

Offering such a considerate wish can deeply touch the recipient, showcasing your sincere hopes for their happiness. However, it is a bit longer and might be somewhat more challenging for non-French speakers to pronounce correctly.

Passe une belle journée

Meaning ‘Have a beautiful day,’ this is perfect for adding to a birthday wish.


  1. Begin with Passe (‘pass’), which is the command form of ‘to spend.’
  2. Continue with une belle journée (‘oon bell zhour-nay’) meaning ‘a beautiful day.’
  3. You’ll form “Passe une belle journée!”

This phrase is special because it doesn’t just stop at ‘happy birthday’ but extends the wish into the day itself. The usage might feel slightly more casual and personal. For some receivers, the charm lies in its specificity to their special day rather than a general year-round wish.

Tips and Tricks for French Birthday Wishes

Beyond these phrases, it’s key to remember a few cultural tips and pronunciation tricks to ensure you’re delivering your birthday wishes appropriately in French.

  1. Always use the formal ‘vous’ form unless the person is a close friend or family member, then you can use ‘tu.’
  2. French ‘r’ is a guttural sound – practice this to sound more authentic.
  3. Mimic the melody of spoken French; it often has a sing-song quality.
  4. Accompany your wishes with traditional French gestures, such as cheek kisses, depending on the region and level of familiarity.

Knowing the cultural context of French birthday wishes can be just as important as the words themselves. These tips can help you avoid potential faux pas and add authenticity to your birthday message. However, remember that overdoing gestures or pronunciation could be perceived as mocking, so maintain a balance.


Celebrating a birthday with a French twist isn’t just about the words but the sentiment conveyed through those words. French phrases provide a beautiful variety of ways to express genuine birthday wishes that resonate with both the giver and the receiver. Embrace these phrases and tips to make someone’s special day even brighter.


  1. Is it appropriate to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in French to someone if you’re not a native speaker?
    Yes, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in French as a non-native speaker can be a delightful surprise, just practice the pronunciation to make it as heartfelt as possible.

  2. Are there any French birthday songs similar to the English ‘Happy Birthday to You’?
    Yes, the song “Joyeux Anniversaire” is often sung to the same tune as the English version, and it’s widely recognized in French-speaking countries.

  3. Should I write a birthday card in French or in English for a French-speaking person?
    If the recipient is French-speaking, writing a birthday card in French can be a thoughtful and appreciated gesture, as long as you are comfortable with the language enough to convey your wishes well.

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