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How You Say Where are you from? In French

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7 Answers

"D'où venez-vous?" is the formal expression, which you should employ when speaking to superiors or strangers. But "D'où viens-tu?" is more informal, because "tu" is used. You can use this when you're speaking to friends or family.


Gabrielle, you are correct. Too many people familiarize themselves with people they do not know, hence using Tu instead of Vous.
To be polite to somebody you don't know yet  or   for respect : you have to say in French language : D'ou etes- vous ? = Where are you from ?,  never use (tu) that's only between friend or somebody you already   know.   
This is the best way. I would use the "tu" form since if you are asking the question, you're probably being friendly towards the other person.
D'où viens-tu?


Alan. Although I am a fan of the "tu" form, it is a question of context and timing also. Don't assume you can "tutoyer" people so fast, depending on their age, even if you are trying to become friendly. You may get the opposite effect.
You can say:
Polite way: Quelle est votre origine? Quelle est votre nationalite?, Quelles sont vos origines?, De quel pays etes vous?
to a friend you can just say: d'ou es-tu? t'es d'ou toi? 
You might wish to clarify the entire question and answer if you indeed want to know from what country or town the person is, thus avoiding ambiguities: "De  quel pays/ville  êtes/venez-vous?"
And certainly, you should not presume permission to use "tu."
In a more classical and polite way, you can say: "Quelle est votre origine? Here you use "votre" which means "your" to address a stranger or superior and " ton" which also means "your" to address a well known person or a friend.
However, in a speaking language we don't want to sound too classical. Therefore, we can say: D'où êtes-vous? or D'où es-tu? Here we use "tu" or "vous" depending on how well known or superior the person is.
I prefer not to say: D'où viens-tu? or D'où venez-vous? Because in some other situation it simply means: Where were you?  which is completely different. But, it does work too.
Formal: When addressing a stranger, your superior or an elder person it is preferable to use the sentence " D'où venez-vous?" or you can also say " D'où êtes-vous?".
Informal: However, if you are addressing your equal or someone who has been speaking to you in an informal way, you can certainly say " D'où viens-tu?" or " Tu es d'où?".