French Transportation Vocabulary

Instructor: Emily France

Emily has experience teaching English and French and has a master's degree in International Studies

In this lesson, we will learn some key terms related to transportation in French, discuss some of the more common modes of transport, and go over some useful vocabulary to help you get around more easily in French.

Transportation in French

Marie is en vacances (ahn vah-kahns, on vacation) in France, and she is taking le train (the train) from Paris to Lyon. First, she takes le métro (the subway) to la gare (train station). At la gare, she goes to le guichet (ticket counter) to buy un billet (a ticket). Once she finds le quai (platform), she monte dans le train (gets on the train), finds her place (seat), and waits for le départ (the departure). Marie is very excited for her voyage to Lyon!

Marie goes to the train station to take the train to Lyon.

Whether you are on vacation somewhere new, like Marie, or simply exploring your own city or town, transportation is central to everyday life. Knowing some basic vocabulary related to les transports (lay trahn-spohr, transportation) will be a great aid when getting around France or planning your next trip to a French-speaking area of the world.

Types of Transportation

To start off, let's go over some of the most common modes of transportation you might see in France:

French English Pronunciation
la voiture car lah vwah-toor
l'avion (m.) plane lah-vee-ohn
l'autobus (m.) bus loh-toh-boos
le bateau boat luh bah-toh
le vélo bicycle luh vay-loh
le taxi taxi luh tahk-see
le train train luh tran
le métro the subway luh may-troh

France has an extensive and well-developed transportation system, and people often opt for the train and subway when traveling in or between cities. Le métro is one of the most efficient and affordable ways to get around France's big cities, particularly Paris. Le Train à Grande Vitesse or TGV (tay-zhay-vay, high-speed train) is also a popular mode of transport throughout France. Marie will probably be taking le TGV to Lyon.

Transportation Verbs

Like in English, there are different verbs that accompany different transportation types. Below is a list of the most common ones you'll see or hear:

French English Pronunciation
conduire to drive kohn-dweer
prendre + le bus/le train/un taxi to take the bus/the train/a taxi prahn-druh + luh boos/luh tran/uhn tahk-see
monter dans to get in/on mohn-tay dahn
descendre to get off duh-sahn-druh
décoller to take off day-koh-lay
atterrir to land ah-tehr-eer

In addition to the above verbs, you'll also want to be sure to use the correct prepositions for whatever mode of transport you will be using. If you're planning to get somewhere by bike or on foot, you would use à. Marie, for example, went to the subway station à pied (ah pee-ay, on foot). On the other hand, if you are traveling in some sort of vehicle, such as by train, car, or bus, you would use the preposition en. Marie is going to Lyon en train (ahn tran, by train).

This man is going to work by bike.

Other Transportation Words

There are some other important terms to know when travelling in a French-speaking country that will come in handy when navigating the airport or public transit system. Here is some vocabulary that will be useful:

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