Visiter vs rendre visite à = To visit a place vs a person

Look at these sentences:

J'ai visité Paris.I visited Paris.

Il a visité le Musée d'Orsay.He visited the Museum of Orsay.

J'ai rendu visite à ma soeur.I visited / went to see my sister.

Il rend visite à ses parents.He's paying a visit to his parents.

Note that the verb visiter is used with places.  

When visiting people (friends, family...), we use the expression rendre visite à [quelqu'un] and never visiter alone.
(This is similar to the English to pay a visit to [someone].)

 

Want to make sure your French sounds confident? We’ll map your knowledge and give you free lessons to focus on your gaps and mistakes. Start your Braimap today »

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

rendre visite à


Je vais rendre visite à mes cousins.I'm going to visit my cousins.
J'ai rendu visite à ma soeur.I visited / went to see my sister.
Il rend visite à ses parents.He's paying a visit to his parents.
J'ai rendu visite à ma grand-mère hier.I visited my grandmother yesterday.

visiter


Il a visité le Musée d'Orsay.He visited the Museum of Orsay.
J'ai visité Paris.I visited Paris.
Je vais visiter Londres.I'm going to visit London.
I'll be right with you...