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French Vehicles Posted by on Oct 26, 2021 in Vocabulary

I’ve written about transportation before … and I’ve also written about the efforts that cities like Paris are making to reduce their presence in their midst, but I realized recently that I’ve never done a review of basic French vocabulary for les véhicules.

Photo CC0 Jose Muesse via Pexels.com

French vehicles

Les véhicules Vehicles
Les véhicules à deux roues Two-wheeled vehicles
La bicyclette Bicycle
Le vélo Bicycle
La moto Motorcycle
La mobylette Moped/scooter
Les véhicules à quatre roues Four-wheeled vehicles
La voiture Car
Le camion Truck
Le monospace Minivan
Le fourgon Box truck
Le taxi (l’Uber) Taxi (Uber)
Les transports en commun Public transportation
L’autobus / le bus City/urban bus
L’autocar / le car Tour bus
Les engins agricoles Farm/agricultural vehicles
Le tracteur Tractor
La moissonneuse-batteuse Combine
Les véhicules officiels Official vehicles
La voiture de police Police car
Le camion des pompiers Fire truck
L’ambulance Ambulance

Exploring les vehicules

Vélo ou bicyclette: While the words vélo and bicyclette are synonyms, the research of these authors shows that the word vélo tends to be associated with more sporting and serious contexts while the word bicyclette is more often related to a more pedestrian context (no pun intended!). In my own personal experience, vélo is more common in general vernacular, but this Google Ngram analysis of word usage in books gives the lead to bicyclette!

Autobus ou autocar: This article from the European tour operator Groupito does a nice job outlining the differences between un bus (short for autobus) and un car (short for autocar). Un bus est “un véhicule spécialisé dans le transport urbain à vitesse réduite, sur des trajets définis, et avec des arrêts fréquents. Les passagers peuvent d’ailleurs voyager debout. Par exemple, pour vous rendre de la maison à l’école du village, vous prendrez un autobus”.1A bus is “a vehicle designed for urban transport at reduced speeds, over a defined route, and with frequent stops. Passengers can travel standing up. For example, you would take a bus to go from your house to the village school.

Un autocar (ou un car) “est un véhicule permettant des transports interurbains ou des trajets longue distance comme des voyages touristiques”2A car is a vehicle for intercity trips and long distance voyages like tour groups.

Les voitures françaises: France has three main car companies that may be familiar to you. The oldest is Peugeot who released their first car in 1889, followed in 1898 by Renault, and then finally Citroën whose DS3The letters DS in French are pronounced like the French word déesse / goddess. car line eventually evolved into its own brand. You can read more about these brands (and France’s super car brand Bugatti and youngest car company Alpine) here.

Here’s a little video to help you practice some of your new vocabulary. Kids videos can be a great way to review.

And if that’s not your speed, perhaps you’ll enjoy this song.

Halloween is this week here in the US. If you’d like to read about how Halloween is celebrated in Francophone countries you might enjoy this post about my first Halloween as a dad, this post about a Canadian Halloween tradition, or this post about describing fear in French.

French Culture – Alternative Transportation

French News Round-up

Des transports hors communs !*

  • 1
    A bus is “a vehicle designed for urban transport at reduced speeds, over a defined route, and with frequent stops. Passengers can travel standing up. For example, you would take a bus to go from your house to the village school.
  • 2
    A car is a vehicle for intercity trips and long distance voyages like tour groups
  • 3
    The letters DS in French are pronounced like the French word déesse / goddess.
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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


Comments:

  1. tony:

    Le parc automobile…


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