Je vais au petit coin.
zhvay oh ptee KWAA. Click below to hear this.
I’m going to the bathroom.
This is not to be announced publicly in polite company even in the outspoken US, and even less so in France! In general, Europeans do not declare their intention to waltz down the hall to use the toilet.
Among good friends, however, you can murmur a discreet Je vais au petit coin by way of excusing yourself for a few moments. No further explanation is necessary, of course!
You’re not even actually naming your actual destination. You’re saying I’m going to the little corner.
Keep in mind, too, that in France and in much of the rest of Europe, the toilet with its tiny hand-washing basin are a separate room from the bathroom, or salle de bains. So if you use the common American euphemistic I’d like to wash my hands, please, you are likely to be met with confusion, and may be shown to a room with a bathtub and washbasin–but no toilet. In that case, you are in trouble.
In a French home where you don’t know the location of the toilet and where you should not leave whatever room you have been invited into, you are better off asking your hostess quietly, Le petit coin, s’il vous plaît?
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