Informal Letters

Layout of the letter:

It is essential that students get familiar with the layout as they can score some easy and precious marks.

At Higher level, 5 marks are allocated to the format (3 for the place and date on the same line: Bordeaux, le 20 juin; 1 for the opening: Cher/Chère…; and 1 for the closing formula: Amitiés, followed by the signature)

Make sure you check our “Postcards” section as there is plenty of vocabulary you could use to write informal letters, especially when talking about holidays.

Possible openings:

  • Cher Paul
  • Chère Mathilde
  • Cher Papa
  • Chère Maman
  • Mes chers parents
  • Cher grand-père
  • Chère grand-mère
  • Cher oncle
  • Chère tante

Always begin with a nice friendly phrase or inquiry to lead you into the main body of the letter.

  • Merci beaucoup de ta dernière lettre…Thanks for your last letter.
  • Merci pour la carte postale que j’ai reçue hier…Thanks for the postcard I got this morning.
  • J’ai reçu ta carte d’anniversaire hier matin…I got your birthday card yesterday morning.
  • Comment vas-tu et ta famille?…How are you and your family?
  • Comment allez-vous là-bas?…How are you all there?
  • Ça va bien, chez toi/chez-vous?…Everything alright with you?
  • Je m’excuse de ne pas avoir écrit depuis un mois…I’m sorry I haven’t written for a month
  • J’écris pour te dire de mes nouvelles……I’m writing to tell you the news.
  • J’écris pour t’informer que…I’m writing to tell you that…
  • Say why you are writing – to say thank you, to inquire about something / someone, to answer an inquiry, to give congratulations, to explain why you have not written of late.
  • J’ai reçu ton cadeau ce matin. Quelle surprise!…I got your present this morning. What a surprise!
  • Comment va ton père après son accident?…How is your Dad after his accident?
  • Comment est-ce que tu as fêté ton anniversaire?…How did you celebrate your birthday?
  • Tu m’as demandé de te décrire une journée typique dans mon école …You asked me to tell you about a typical school day
  • J'ai des nouvelles à t’annoncer – je me suis cassé la main!…I have some news to tell you - I broke my hand!


Don’t forget to ask questions and to use suitable comments and explanations to give variety to your writing.

  • Comment as-tu passé les vacances de Pâques?…How did you spend the Easter holidays?
  • Je viens de finir mes examens… I’ve just finished my exams.
  • Les maths étaient faciles/durs… Maths were easy/difficult.
  • Je crois que j’ai réussi à mes examens… I think that I passed my exams.
  • Et toi, as-tu reçu de bonnes notes après les examens?…Did you get good grades in your exams?
  • Cette semaine à l’école – C’était casse-pieds!…This week at school was a pain in the neck!
  • Le film que j’ai vu ce weekend – C’était super chouette! …The film I saw this weekend was brilliant!
  • Tu aimes le rugby mais ça m’énerve beaucoup!…You like rugby but it really annoys me!
  • Mon école a gagné le championnat. Et toi?…My school won the championship. And yours?
  • Est-ce que tu veux venir en vacances avec nous ?... Do you want to go on holidays with us ?
  • Ça te dirait d’aller en Espagne ?... Would you fancy going to Spain ?



  • Voilà! C’est tout……Well that’s all!
  • Écris-moi bientôt/vite…Write to me soon
  • C’est tout pour l’instant…That’s all for now
  • Je dois te laisser… I have to leave you
  • J’attends ta réponse avec impatience…I look forward to hearing from you
  • J’ai hâte d’avoir de tes nouvelles… I am looking forward to hearing your news.
  • Dis bonjour à tes parents…Say hello to your parents
  • Dis salut à tes copains/à ta soeur…Say hi to your friends / sister
  • Amitiés…..Regards
  • Bien à toi…..Yours
  • Bien amicalement…..Yours warmly
  • Grosses bises…..Hugs and kisses ( never from a boy to a boy)
  • Affectueusement…Affectionately ( never from a boy to a boy)
  • Meilleures pensées……Best wishes


Past exam papers (Higher level)


You have just gone back to school after the Christmas holidays. Your French penpal Philippe has sent you a Christmas present. Write a letter in French to Philippe. In your letter:

- thank him for his letter and the present

- tell him what you did during the Christmas holidays

- give him some news about your best friend

- tell him about your plans for your birthday

- ask him to come and visit you next summer.



You are on a school exchange in France. You are staying with a French family and attending school. Write a letter in French to your penpal Marie-Caroline who lives in another part of France. In your letter :

- tell her about your journey from Ireland to France

- describe the family with whom you are staying

- say what you think of the French school

- ask her what she will do next weekend

- send your regards to her parents.


It is the month of June. You have just finished the Junior Certificate. Write a letter to your

French penpal Paul in which you:

- thank him for his last letter

- tell him something about the exams

- tell him about your plans for the weekend

- ask him if he is going to work for the summer

- give him some news about your family.



You have just returned home from two weeks in Rennes with your French penpal,

Christophe, and his family. Write a letter to Christophe, in which you:

- thank him and his family for your wonderful holiday

- say what you liked most about your stay in France

- invite him to spend two weeks with you and your family in Ireland next summer

- tell him what you will do together in Ireland

- tell him something about your new French teacher.



The February school break starts tomorrow. Write a letter to your French penpal, Caroline, in which you:

- apologise for not writing sooner and give an excuse

- explain what you are going to do for the break

- talk about a day or evening out you recently had with friends

- ask how she likes her new school

- comment on a good film or book or CD you recently came across.


It’s the month of September and you are just back in Ireland from a holiday with some friends in the south of France. Write a letter to a French friend, Marie-Claire, in which you:

- tell her that you liked the holiday, especially the nice weather

- refer to an interesting village you visited

- say that you have returned to school but you are finding one subject difficult

- tell her you are going on a school tour in October

- ask about her family



It’s the month of May and you are just back from a school tour to Paris. Your pen-pal

Robert lives in the south of France. Write a letter to Robert in which you

- tell him when you arrived home and how you travelled

- say which part of the tour you liked most and why

- tell him you bought a jacket when you were in Paris and describe it

- tell him what you will be doing for your summer holidays

- ask Robert if he is going to his grand-parents’ house again for his summer holidays



Your French pen-pal, Marie-Pascale, has written to you for your birthday and sent you a CD as a present. Write a letter back to her in which you:

- thank her for the letter and present

- tell her something you did for your birthday

- give her some news about your family

- tell her something about the school trip you will be going on next week

- ask her if she would like to come to Ireland at Christmas



You have just returned to Ireland after spending a holiday with your pen-friend Antoine, who lives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Write a letter to Antoine and include the following points:

- thank him for the great holiday

- say what you liked most about Switzerland

- say something about your journey back to Ireland

- tell him some news about your family

- mention some things you will do next summer when Antoine comes to Ireland.

Let us know what you think