Different Types of Transports in French

What are the means of transport in French? With which preposition to use with them? Should it be à or en ? Learn the different types of transports in French, the means of transportation and also the prepositions to use with them. By the end, you will be very familiar with the vocabulary of transports and will be able to use words like car, airplane, or train in French. 

In general, there are 4 modes of transport depending on the route taken. Here are the names of the transportation with their English translation.

  • le transport routier : by road/land
  • le transport maritime: by sea
  • le transport ferroviaire : by train
  • le transport aérien: by air.


There is also a difference between les transports privés (private transports)  for personal use, and les transports publics / les transports en commun for groups.

Here is the list of common means of transport in French that you certainly use everyday. Words starting with “la” like la voiture are feminine and those with le are maxculine. For those with l’ the indication (m) stands for masculine.

  • la voiture: car
  • le train : train
  • le métro: subway
  • le tram: tramway
  • l’autobus (m)/le bus: bus
  • le car: bus
  • le taxi: taxi
  • l’avion: airplane
  • l’hélicoptère (m): helicopter
  • le bateau: boat
  • le vélo/la bicyclette: bicycle
  • la moto: motorcycle
  • le tracteur: tractor
  • le camion: truck
  • la caravane: camping car

In general, transportation vocabulary can be used with verbs like prendre (to take), voyager (to travel), conduire (to drive) and verbs of movement like those listed  below :

  • aller: to go
  • venir: to come
  • entrer  to enter,
  • sortir: to go out
  • monter: to get in, 
  • descendre: to go down, to alight, to get off
  • arriver: to arrive
  • partir: to leave


Here are examples of sentences using some of the verbs with their English translation. 

  • Je monte dans le bus => I get on the bus
  • Je descends du train => I get off the train
  • Je vais au travail en bus.=> I go to work by train
  • Je conduis pour aller au travail. => I drive to work.
  • Je sors en voiture. => I go out by car
  • J’arrive en train. => I arrive by train.
  • Je prends le bus. => I take the bus.

Means of transport and the prepositions en and à

When talking about the way you are traveling somewhere you use in French the prepositions en or à.  For instance, If you want to say

  • I go to work by bus, you should say Je vais au travail en bus.
  • I go to work by subway, You should say je vais au travail en métro.
  • I go to work on foot => Je vais au travail à pied.


Now how do you know when to use en or à?

In general, the preposition en is used for means of transport we can enter in, like le bus, la voiture, le taxi, le camion, le bateau,…

The preposition à is used for those transports we cannot enter in like le vélo, la moto, le cheval. In general, we get on them.

For example

  • Je vais au défilé à cheval. => I am going to the parade on a horse.
  • Je vais au théâtre à pied. => I go to the theater on foot.
  • Je vais à l école en bus. => I go to school by bus.


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