11 ways to say cheers In French, a drinking song & toasting etiquette in France

CHEERS! Bottom’s up! Here are the many ways to say cheers in French. Learn a funny French drinking song and toasting etiquette in France.

Leonardo Di Caprio in the Great Gatsby making a toast
Leonardo Di Caprio in the Great Gatsby making a toast

Here’s mud in your eye! Bottom’s up! Cin-Cin! Here’s how to say cheers in French 11 different ways, plus a hilarious French drinking song that’s a bit cheeky.

Toasting in French: How to say cheers in France

When making a toast and clinking your glass in the English-speaking world, everyone knows at least one phrase, such as “cheers.”

There are also a lot of different ways to propose a toast and to say cheers in French. 

I’ve listed eleven common French phrases for toasting in French-speaking countries and regions which you can use for social gatherings and special occasions such as weddings, dinner parties, or New Year’s eve, at a bar or at an apero party with your French friends. The 12th is a fun French drinking song with a video demonstrating how it’s done. 

At the end of this article, I explain some toasting traditions and simple rules you need to know about saying cheers in France.

caricature of French man wearing a beret and holding a glass about to say cheers in French

You might be interested in this list of 77 Predinner Drinks: Ultimate guide to French Apéritifs.

1) To your Health

An extremely simple and popular way to say cheers in many different languages, including French, is to toast to someone’s health. 

  • à votre santé : (Formal/Plural) The polite or formal way to toast to someone’s health. Also, use this when clinking glasses with a group of people because “votre” is the plural version of (your). 
  • à ta santé : (Informal/Singular) Use this when toasting with a person you know very well, a good friend, family member etc. 

2) Health

  • Santé

Santé, which means health in French is just a shortening of the toast “à votre santé“, and “à ta santé” (to your health). It’s probably the most popular way of saying cheers in French with friends.

3) Here’s to you! / Here’s to yours

If someone raises a glass and cheers to your health or to friendship, you could reply with the following toast expressions. They both more or less mean “and to yours.”

  • à la tienne (Informal, singular toasting to a single person you know well, like a friend)
  • à la votre (Formal, and plural for toasting to a group)

It’s also perfectly fine to use “à la tienne” or “à la voter” on its own, which would loosely translate to “here’s to you.”

4) Toast to (add any word here) 

Although toasting to health is a popular and simple toast to raise your glass to in France, you can toast to just about anything.

Just say “TO ” followed by anything.

  • To Love  (à l’amour)
  • To life (à la vie)
  • To friendship (à l’amitié)
  • To us (à nous deux) Literally means to us two, or the both of us.

5) Let’s cheers! 

  • On Trinque! / On Trinque?
  • Trinquons! / Trinquons?

The two expressions above are from the French verb “Trinquer,” which has multiple nuanced idiomatic meanings; “to clink glasses” as well as “to drink” and “to cheers.” 

Trinquer literally means to clink. It’s a borrowed word from old high German trinken from Proto-West Germanic “drinkan.” (FYI, Proto-West Germanic is the ancestor of all West Germanic languages.)

Trinquer has a second meaning, “to suffer.”

 Double entendre

Here’s a French proverb using the verb trinquer to toast/to suffer in a clever double entendre (meant to be interpreted in two different ways.) 

  • “Les parents boivent, les enfants trinquent.”
    • The Parents drink, the children suffer.
    • The Parents drink, the children drink..

6) Let’s drink

  • On boit!
  • Buvons!

“On boit” and “Buvons,” French for “let’s drink,” is technically not a toast, but it’s a casual way of suggesting everyone raise their glass and drink.

Buvons is the first-person plural of the French verb boire (to drink). I’ve conjugated the verb below for reference. 

  1. je bois – I drink
  2. tu bois – you drink
  3. il/Elle/on boit – he/she /one drinks
  4. Nous bouvons – We drink
  5. Ils boivent – They drink

7) Let’s go or Go on

  • Allez!

In French, “Allez” can be used for just about anything. It usually means let’s go but used in this context, it’s like saying “go on” as in Go on, shall we drink? 

8) Cin Cin 

  • Tchin Tchin
  • Tchin (abbreviated version)

Tchin Tchin in French is pronounced the same as in English / chin chin/.

The origins of this toast are unclear, and there is quite a bit of lore about its true origins.

Is it an onomatopoeia?
One theory is that Tchin Tchin is an onomatopoeia that represents the sound of clinking glasses.

Is it an Italian expression?
One theory is that it’s a made-up Italian expression based on Cinzano, Italy’s famous sweet vermouth brand.

The story is that “Cin” was the shortened version of the brand name that people started saying around the 19th century. From there, it travelled to France and the rest of Europe, and now every country seems to use this expression.

Is it an old Chinese expression?
And finally, one theory is that Tchin-Tchin comes from the old Chinese expression, Qǐng qǐng, which means “please, please.” This was supposedly the way Chinese people used to toast, as in “please, please, let’s drink.”

9) Bottoms Up

  • Cul Sec

“Cul sec” loosely translates to “bottoms up,” but it literally means bottom dry because “Cul” literally means ass in French. In this case, Cul refers to the bottom of the glass or bottle. Sec means dry.

So when you drink until there is no more liquid, the bottom is dry. “Bottom dry. ”

10) Let’s raise a toast! (to something)

  • Portons un toast!

In French, “Porter un toast” loosely means let’s toast, let’s raise a glass or let’s raise a toast, and it’s mainly used in formal situations and events like at a wedding or work event. Some might even think it’s a little pretentious for gatherings with close friends. 

So, if you would like everyone to raise a toast, you could say, “Portons un toast.

By adding “à” to the end of the phrase, you can also suggest raising a toast to someone, something or some sentiment. 

For example, here are some ways you could say  if you’re out with friends or co-workers, you could say:

  • “Portons un toast à l’amitiés” = Let’s raise toast to friendship.
  • “Portons un toast à l’amour“= Let’s raise toast to love.
  • “Portons un toast à la vie“= Let’s raise a toast to life.
  • “Portons un toast à la nouvelle année” = Let’s raise a toast to the new year.
  • “Portons un toast aux nouveaux mariés = Let’s cheers to the newlyweds.

11) Let’s raise our glasses

  • Levons nos verres

Similar to “portons un toast” (let’s raise a toast), “levons nos verres” literally means (let’s raise our glasses).

This expression is not quite as popular as the other versions of cheers in French on this list, but it’s a fun way to get everyone to raise a glass for a toast.

There’s also a fun song called “levons nos verres,” which would be fun to add to your playlist. 

YouTube video player

12) French Drinking song: “Friend, raise your glass, and above all, don’t spill it…”

Once you’ve had just enough booze to be in the singing spirit, you can always bust out with a French drinking song.

  • “la chanson à boire.”= Drinking song

There are quite a few but let’s focus on the one called:

“He’s one of us” (Il est des nôtres.)

This French drinking song is a bit bawdy and lude.

  • “la chanson paillarde”= Bawdy song or lude song

The song begins with everyone singing friend friend, raise your glass, and above all don’t spill it, often adding someone’s name to the song.

Then everyone touches their glass to their forehead, nose, stomach, and crotch, followed by a toast. 

Watch the video below to see how it’s done. Directly below the video are the French lyrics with English translations. 

Did you know that the French Onomatoepia for glug glug is “Glou, Glou?” It’s an important part of this French drinking song. 

YouTube video player

Il est des nôtres
French Lyrics  English Translation
Ami(e) (add name),
lève ton verre!
Friend (add name),
raise your glass,
Et surtout, ne le renverse pas ! But definitely don’t spill it!
Et porte-le And put it
au frontibus to your forehead
au nasibus to your nose
au mentibus to your chin
au ventribus to your stomach
au sexibus to your crotch
et glou et glou et glou… Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug,
(* keep repeating
until the drink is chugged)
Il est des nôtres! He is one of us!
Il a bu son verre comme
les autres !
He finished his drink like
the others
C’est un ivrogne he’s a drunk
ça se voit rien qu’à sa trogne ! You can tell just by looking
at their head!
Santé! Cheers

*Some versions of this French drinking song swap out the words ventribus and sexibus with ventarium and pissarium. 

Wrapping up with French toasting etiquette

bunch of people in France toasting in French while making eye contact

No matter which phrase you use when lifting a glass and saying cheers in French, if someone initiates a toast, here are the most important rules of etiquette and social norms for toasting in France. 

  • If you want to propose a toast, make sure everyone’s glass is full.
  • Raise your glass and say cheers in French using one of the French phrases above. I like to say santé.
  • As you go around clinking glasses with everyone, make sure to make eye contact and look each person in the eyes. This is very important.
  • Don’t take a sip until everyone has clinked glasses with one another.
  • Take a sip with everyone at the same time. 
  • It’s rude not to take a sip from your glass.
  • After everyone has clinked glasses and sipped from their drink, you can put your glass down on the table but not before.

Can you toast with water in France or non-alcoholic beverages?

Champomy: sparkling apple juice for Christmas meal

One last thing. It’s perfectly fine to toast with water, juice or any other non-alcoholic drink.

After all, someone might be pregnant, need to drive home, or not like alcohol. 

Even children in France join in the fun clinking of glasses and toasting with juice or their little glasses of Champomy, a popular fizzy apple juice that comes in a bottle that looks like champagne.

Cheers Mates!

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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