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French Vocabulary – In the street Posted by on Jun 2, 2020 in Music, Vocabulary

The other day I was out for a walk and practicing my French en même temps (at the same time) by naming all the things I could  see. Les arbres, les plantes, le ciel, le soleil, des boîtes aux lettres, et la rue (The trees, the plants, the sky, the sun, mailboxes, and the street). When I got to la rue I wondered …

Rue, avenue, ou boulevard ?

De nos jours (Nowadays, lit. Of our days) these words are often used interchangeably. But they historically have distinct meanings1and just to be clear, where I live, they are definitely rues.

Une rue is generally smaller, usually narrower and has few if any side streets. Rue is also the most generic term for street.

Une avenue is a large urban voie (way), often bordered by trees (like the Avenue des Champs-Elysées) and leading somewhere of importance, like a monument, that often gives the avenue its name … comme l’avenue de l’Opéra à Paris (like the Avenue of the Opera in Paris). 

Un boulevard was traditionally a road that ran along the fortifications of a city or was laid over the foundations/former placement of such fortifications. As such boulevards were often circular (like the boulevard Périphérique), though over time this changed.

En voilà du nouveau … / Here’s a new one … As France begins opening up, some are taking their pent up demand to les rues in the form of an updated version of the classic French apéro …  l’apérue! 😉

Here’s a little song to help you remember at least one of these words … and learn some other useful words for things you might find dans la rue.

Dans ma rue On my street
Il y a des cinglés du jogging There are jogging nuts
Les amoureux du lèche-vitrine Window-shopping lovers
Et des passants comme vous et moi And passers-by like you and me
Dans ma rue (x2) On my street
Y a des poubelles sur le trottoir There are trashcans on the sidewalk
Des toutous que promène le soir Dogs being walked
Leur mémé en chemise de nuit By their grannies in nightgown
Dans la rue On my street
Mais il y a aussi Annie But there’s also Annie
Et il y a aussi Cathy And there is also Cathy
Puis il y a aussi Sophie Then there’s also Sophie
Et il y a aussi Nathalie And there is also Nathalie
Dans ma rue On my street
Y a des autos à cent à l’heure There are cars doing sixty miles an hour (a rough equivalent to 100 kilometers per hour)
Des policiers, des voleurs Police officers, and thiefs
Qui s’tirent dessus au revolver Who shoot at each other with revolvers
Dans la rue In the street
Dans ma rue On my stret
Y a eu un mort la semaine dernière Someone died last week
Quelqu’un qui supportait pas l’air Someone who couldn’t take the atmosphere
Et qui l’a respiré trop fort And who breathed it in too deep
Dans ma rue On my street
(Refrain) (Chorus)
Toi dans la rue tu connais certainement une fille You likely know a girl in the street
Qui comme moi t’a souri, que tu n’oublieras plus Who like me, smilled at you, in a way you won’t forget
C’est peu de dire tout simplement que tu l’as trouvé jolie It’s the least to say that your found her pretty
Cette inconnue qui t’a plu That stranger who appealed to you
Elle hante tes nuits, elle hante tes nuits She haunts your nights, she haunts your nights
Elle hante tes nuits, tes nuits, tes nuits, tes nuits, Nathalie She haunts your nights, your nights, your nights, Nathalie
Dans ma rue … On my street

Et pour finir, encore quelques mots utiles (To finish a few more useful words):

Le trottoirthe sidewalk

La chaussée – the pavement, the roadway (as opposed to le trottoir which is for people2though originally it was the place for horses!, la chaussée3which we find in the term rez-de-chaussée / ground floor is the part of the road for cars and other traffic)

Le cheminthe path, trail

La pistetrack, runway

La piste cyclable – the bike path/bike lane

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Photo by Margerretta from Pexels

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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