Living 2 years in the south of the France, I used to hear many French speakers saying Bonne soirée or Bonsoir to say goodbye in the evening.

But I've rarely heard any of them saying Bonne nuit even if it's very late (e.g. midnight)

I have a doubt of the usage between them.

Is it rude to say goodbye with Bonne nuit (they might think that we want them to go to bed), or from what time in the evening/night we can use it or better/safer always stick with Bonne soirée.


2 Answers 2


As you guessed, bonne nuit ! is only used when you know the person is going to his/her bedroom. It is then common in a family, or when you leave people going back to their rooms in a hotel. Otherwise, bonne soirée ! is used and means "enjoy your evening".

Saying bonne nuit ! too early is not really rude. Maybe like saying good afternoon when you meet someone at 10am, but you are unlikely to have it echoed back to you as a response, instead perhaps merci, mais je ne vais pas me coucher tout de suite.

When late at night, a safe bet is bonne fin de soirée !.

  • 2
    @Aerovistae Thanks for rewording my bogus sentence ;-)
    – jlliagre
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 12:42
  • Although if you say "Good afternoon" to someone at 10 a.m., you might just get an odd look.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 17:43
  • @LukeSawczak Yes, my point was just that it is not rude, just slightly offbeat.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 17:46

Bonne nuit = Late evening

Bonne nuit is often used just before going to bed, even if you don't sleep in the same bed as the person. You say that when you know the person will go to bed just after you leave.

Bonne soirée = Early evening

Bonne soirée is said when you leave the person and you know they will not go to bed immediately. As it is too early to go to bed, the person will have other activities (apéro, dinner...).

  • Downvoter please explain... is it how you treat newcomers in this community?
    – Bebs
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 20:24

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