Going somewhere? How to say "to, in or at" in French

Countries: en / au / aux

Most countries are considered feminine in French, and take en:

En Angleterre, En France, En Espagne, En Italie, En Allemagne

A sizeable minority are masculine, and take au:

Au Pays de Galles, Au Maroc, Au Portugal, Au Canada, Au Japon, Au Mexique…

A few countries are plural, and take aux:


Remember the pronunciation of this phrase. The final consonants are usually silent, but may be pronounced when they precede a vowel or h.

Towns, cities, villages… : à

This is a much simpler rule than when referring to countries. However small the village, medium-sized the town, or however large the city, the preposition will always be à

J’habite à Hertford.

Je vais à Paris pour regarder le match de rugby..

There are a few French towns where "Le" is included in the name, so it behaves in the usual grammatical way. (Remember that "à + le = au" in most cases, and similarly, "de + le = du". So:

Le Mans

Le Havre

Je vais au Havre

Je viens du Mans

Geographical points, English counties = dans (le)

Ma ville est dans le Hertfordshire.

Ma sœur habite à Colchester, qui est une ville dans le l’est d’Angleterre.

Où se trouve Lille ? à Dans le nord.

But certain regions are big, important enough to be treated like countries, grammatically:

J’aime aller en Cornouailles en vacances.

Ah bon ? Moi, je préfère aller en Bretagne.

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