French/English - English/French Dictionaries

I am a new member of the Survive France network. We shall be moving permanently to a small hamlet nr St. Girons, Ariege as soon as we have sold our house in Scotland.

My Husband cannot speak French at the moment and my French was learnt at school a long time ago (I am now 64). I am using the Michel Thomas cd's to improve. We both will have lessons when we finally move.

I want to buy a good dictionary and am torn between Collins Robert complete and Unabridged French Dictionary and the Oxford Hachette French Dictionary. They both have good reviews. I would very much appreciate your opinions of good dictionaries.

Thank you

We found, in addition to a dictionary the OUP produced Oxford Duden illustrated one invaluable. It consists of exploded diagrams under loads of subjects with the English and french words for them. While I do not need to know about space travel (which is in there) I was surprised that there was no section on vets! However when dealing with buying stuff - it is all there. You can even take the picture when looking for something "off the wall"

I'm quite enjoying doing some learning on

You might also find some classes. Try université du temps libre or in our case there's a class intended to help people into employment so it's a mix of good-french-but-poor-education and french-not-first-language or FLE Français Langue Étrangère

The medium size dictionary I like, especially because it has all the conjugaison, is Larousse Concise French-English/English-French Dictionary

Don't fall into the expat ghetto, if you do you'll never learn.


Quite right Veronique, the 'free' translation sites are seldom as free as they would like us to believe and some also link to other sites that then put command bars up that it is virtually impossible to get rid of again. Some those that are free like Google Translate and bing are quite rudimentary. If you have the skill to sort out the nonsense that occasionally comes out of them, then at best they are useful for little things. is useful for very little bits at a time.

On the dictionaries again and it looks like Hachette and Robert are running a tied race so far, but do not forget Larousse. We only have French-Spanish, so I cannot judge English-French, but they are also very good, big fat dictionaries.

Robert, far less formal approach. We have both that and Oxford-Hachette and can see Robert is far more used from the covers from here!

I like the Robert as it also has a fair smattering of slang

Personally I recommend the 3rd or later edition of the Oxford-Hachette Dictionary ISBN 0-19-860363-0 (The Great big one)

It is particularly useful because it comes with a number of standard letters etc. that can be edited to your own needs and a CD to give you the pronunciation of all those words you never thought you would need