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Buses and Cars – Travelling in France Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Culture, Vocabulary

Europe is famous for how easy it is to travel en train. However, les trains are often more expensive than you would think!

Thankfully there are alternatives like le covoiturage (carpooling), and l’autocar (intercity bus).

Until recently it was difficult to take un bus over a long distance in France. However, private transportation companies have created des nouveaux réseaux (new networks) for les autocars with companies like Isilines and Flixbus, and it is now easy and affordable to travel from city to city en bus !

La loi Macron, which aims to open up France’s economy, is what allowed this change. Before la loi (the law), in order for a bus to legally travel through France, it had to be a part of an international route or be a part of la SNCF (la société nationale de chemins de fer français, The French National Railroad Company).

Ceci dit (that said) international bus travel has always been an option from France, even if le train or l’avion are more popular moyens de transport (transportation methods). Eurolines is une entreprise (a company) that focuses on international bus travel in Europe and has routes from and to nearly any city in Europe!

The downside is you have to be on un bus for a very, very, very long time. It’s an experience, but I would not recommend it unless you are willing to be cramped in a small seat for over a day.

The confusing part about all these moyens de transports is how many of them are des faux amis (false friends), and the similarities can easily lead to mistakes.

Un bus or un autobus is a normal city bus or bus that goes throughout le département, while un autocar or un car is an intercity bus that goes between far away cities or even in between countries.

On top of that, blablacar is a website that helps you find people willing to share leur voiture (their car)!

Un bus, un autobus
A local (city or county) bus

Un car, un autocar
An intercity bus

Website for carpooling (le covoiturage)

The easy way to remember the differences is that un bus is a normal bus you take to get around a city, un car is like a greyhound bus, and blablacar is about all the talking (blah blah) you have to do when carpooling!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.