I dunno about Europe, but in Quebec the standard filler words are tsé (for tu sais) and genre, the latter of which is usually seen as the lower-key one.
The standard and less classy one are “heu” (er), “quoi/hein” (what), “bah/ben/bien” (well).
But you can also use some basic one :
- “En fait“, “au fond“, (in fact…)
- “En vérité” (verily…)
- “Alors” (So, then)
- “Vous savez/Tu sais” (You know)
- “Vous voyez/Tu vois” (You see)
- “Croyez-moi/Crois-moi” (Believe me)
- “hein” (okay)
- You can always use swear words as filler in any language if you’re brave enough.
Then they are the less obvious one and the list is endless. If you want political level fillers (aka langue de bois) you can watch this video (in french) of a full speech improvisation with only 17 base concept.
Some of these French filler words are very common and sometimes very ugly:
In the 80’s and the 90’s, most people used to say “pis bon ben” between two sentences, an ugly contraction of “puis, bon eh bien”.
Nowadays, “pis bon ben” has mostly disappeared, but it’s been replaced by another ugly terminator: “(…)Mais bon, voilà, quoi“.
This Wikipedia article about filler words lists the following ones for French (emphasis mine):
euh /ø/ is most common; other words used as fillers include quoi (“what”), bah, ben (“well”), tu vois (“you see”), t’vois c’que j’veux dire? (“you see what I mean?”), tu sais, t’sais (“you know”), and eh bien (roughly “well”, as in “Well, I’m not sure”). Outside France other expressions are t’sais veux dire? (“ya know what I mean?”; Québec), or allez une fois (“go one time”; especially in Brussels, not in Wallonia). Additional filler words used by youngsters include genre (“kind”), comme (“like”), and style (“style”; “kind”).
As a native French speaker, these all look correct to me.
In passing (I was looking for this when I stumbled upon this thread), it turns out a
filler (word) would be called a
mot de remplissage or
mot bouche-trou in French.
Filler words can be used to articulate speech and become more fluent.
Now, undesirable filler words and expressions are called
tics de langage (link to the French article on the topic, with examples).
“Tu vois?” has been mentioned numerous times above, but I frequently hear it as “Tu ahh” which for me is like “Tu as” – you have. However I’ve been re-assured by many French they are saying “Tu vois”!
I live in Lyon, France.
Something typically parisian :
“Donc, euh… voilà quoi”
Or, simply : “quoi”, at the end of the sentence : “Faut que t’arrêtes de fumer, quoi.” (You gotta quit smoking, man)