French Art, Painting and Museum Vocabulary and Sentences

French Art and Museums

One of the reasons people visit France, especially Paris, is because of the art and culture. The city is one the world’s leading cultural centers among other things.

It is home to many museums and cultural attractions such as the Louvre, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Musée Cluny and Musée d’Orsay or Musée Picasso just name the most famous ones.

But visiting all these magnificent places without the slightest knowledge of French can be dull. Wouldn’t it be great to get more from your visit to the Louvre for example if you could exchange in French a little with another tourist or a guide about a particular work of art ?


The following words and sentences relate to the following CEFR levels and descriptions:

  • A2: (Basic user) Can give a simple description of what one likes / dislikes (here, a work of art) using a short series of pharses and sentences.
  • B1: (Independent User) Can reasonably fluently sustain a straightforward description of one of a variety of subjects within
    his/her field of interest, presenting it as a linear sequence of points.

In general terms, if you are capable of can describe a work of art in one or two sentences expressing your feelings about the subject, you are at A2 level. If you can justify in a simple way why you think so, then you are at B1 level.

General Art and Painting Vocabulary

une œuvre d’art: a work of art

un chef-d’œuvre: a masterpiece

un moyen d’expression artistique: an art form

les beaux-arts: the fine arts

être inspiré par quelque chose / quelqu’un: to be inspired by something / someone

une exposition: an exhibition

exposer ses tableaux: to exhibit one’s paintings

la peinture à l’huile: an oil (painting)

peindre: to paint

peindre à l’huile: to paint in oils

l’aquarelle:  watercolours (technique)

une aquarelle: a watercolour (painting)

The Louvre Museum: Landing at Marseille by P.P. Rubens.


Don’t forget to use the feminine form or to add “e” to the adjective if the noun it describes is feminine. Eg. En beau tableau / Une belle œuvre.


  • beau / belle : beautiful

  • joli(e): nice, lovelypretty

  • très intéressant(e): very interesting

  • très réussi(e): well done

  • extraordinaire: entraordinary

  • remarquable: remarkable

  • magnifique: magnificent

  • exceptionnel(le): exceptional

  • impressionnant(e): impressive


  • modeste: modest, simple

  • affreux / affreuse (strong word !)awful

  • sans intérêt: dull

  • atroce (strong word !): atrocious

  • inintéressant: uninteresting

Example sentences:

  • Examples of simple sentences to describe works of art:

    • C’est une œuvre magnifique.

    • Ce tableau est très intéressant.

    • J’aime ce genre de peinture.

    • Ce genre de peinture me plaît.

  • Questions about a specific work of art ? (The questions are meant to be asked with raising intonation, as in a casual conversation)

    • Comment vous trouvez ce tableau ?

      • Il est très intéressant.

    • Qu’est-ce que vous pensez de cette œuvre ?

      • Je la trouve splendide.

    • Vous-aimez ce tableau ? / Ce tableau vous plaît ?

      • Oui, je le trouve impressionnant.


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