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50 French words and phrases you need to learn if you’re driving in France

PUBLISHED: 10:32 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:00 26 January 2017

Driving in Provence © drevojan, Thinkstock

Driving in Provence © drevojan, Thinkstock


From road signs to car parts and petrol stations to breakdowns, here are 50 French words and phrases that are essential to learn if you’re driving in France

Getting to know your car

Voiture - Car

Pare-brise - Windscreen

Volant – Steering wheel

Clignotant – Indicator

Pneu - Tyre

Essuie-Glaces – Windscreen wipers

Coffre - Trunk

Caler – To stall

Faire marche arrière – To reverse

Se ranger – To pull over


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Navigating French roads

Autoroute - Motorway

Péage – Toll

Bande d’arrêt d’urgence – Hard shoulder

Petite aire de repos – Lay-by

Carrefour - Junction

Rond-point – Roundabout

Garer / Stationner – To park

Doubler / Dépasser – To overtake

Limite de vitesse – Speed limit

Bouchon / Embouteillage – Traffic jam

Carambolage – Pile-up

“Il y a un carambolage sur l’A9” – There’s a pile-up on the A9

Feu – Traffic light

“Cet automobiliste a grillé le feu” – This driver went through a red light


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At a petrol station

Station-service – Petrol / service station

Essence sans plomb – Unleaded

Gasoil – Diesel

Faire le plein – To fill up the tank


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Road signs

Panneau de signalisation – Road sign

Circulation – Traffic

Route barrée – Road closed

Ralentissez – Slow down

Arrêt – Stop

Cedez le passage – Give way

Priorité à gauche / à droit – Give way to traffic coming from the left/right

Sens-unique – One-way

Sens interdit – No entry

Passage piéton – Pedestrian crossing

Déviation - Diversion

Impasse – Dead-end / No through road

Radar de vitesse – Speed camera

Verglas – Risk of ice


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Useful phrases if you break down in France

“Ma voiture est en panne” – My car has broken down

“J’ai un pneu crevé / à plat” – I’ve got a flat tyre

“J’ai eu un accident” – I’ve had an accident

“Pouvez-vous envoyer une dépanneuse?” – Can you send a recovery vehicle?

“Pouvez-vous me remorquer jusqu’à un garage?” – Could you tow me to the repair garage?

“Le moteur surchauffe” – The engine is overheating

“La batterie est vide” – The battery is flat

“Il y a un problème de freins” – There’s a problem with the brakes


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