Cycling in France: 10 Key Phrases to Know

By Maggie LaCoste

I’ve had some great comments to my post Cycling in France: When Trouble Strikes…. One of the best was from Frank Moritz, a Tour Leader with the Adventure Cycling Association. Frank recommended the European Cycling Lexion which is an extensive dictionary of cycling-related terminology translated into 27 different languages. There isn’t a bicycling-related word or repair term that I can think of that isn’t in the dictionary. You can download the European Cycling Lexion as a pdf file totally free of charge.

If you prefer a more basic emergency vocabulary, here are the basics we used in dealing with our bike emergencies on the road in Burgundy:

une crevaison: a flat, puncture
pneu de velo: bike tire
un pneu creve: a flat tire
freins de velo: bike brakes
graisse: grease
chambre a air: inner tube
marchand de velos: bicycle dealer
megasin de cyclos: bicycle shop
pompe a bicyclette: bicycle pump
mon velo est casse: my bike is broken

These 10 words succeeded in helping us find the closest (and only) repair shop within 30 miles and enabled us to communicate what we needed to repair the bike. These words together with many perfectly placed merci beaucoup’s saved us from disaster along the Burgundy Canal. So even if you choose not to download the European Cycling Lexion, be sure to send this post to your cell in case you ever need it!

Posted by Maggie LaCoste

I love the adventure and unpredictability of experiencing France by bike. Cycling in France is the ultimate slow travel adventure, an opportunity to see it through the back door in a way few tourists experience. One week on a bike in France and life takes on a different meaning! I created Experience France By Bike to inspire recreational cyclists to visit France the slow bike, and to be the best source of information for planning the perfect bicycling adventure. I encourage readers to embrace the uncertainty of the road ahead and to take the path less traveled, exploring roads, towns and villages that you would never experience traveling by car.