Car parts in French - Learning a new vocabulary during the Paris-Deauville Rally

Hood ornament - Ornement de capot

Whenever someone tells me that they're moving to a country where they'll need to learn a new language, I always recommend decorating their home with post-it notes, or little cheat sheets, on which they've written important words like chair, toilet, refrigerator and table in the target language. It's what I've always done to start communicating in a foreign language as quickly as possible.

With hindsight, I wish that I would have followed my own advice and made some post-it notes with key automotive terms prior to the Paris-Deauville Rally because I suddenly realized that there are a lot of French words that I don't know and that a significant number of them have to do with cars. It all started when a French man pointed to a cabriolet in the distance and asked if it was the car in which I was going to ride to Deauville. Wanting to tell him that I didn't think that it was the Delage because it had a hood ornament, I was suddenly stumped. What is the word for "hood ornament" in French? While my normal strategy is to circumnavigate the problem by using a different set of words, that approach didn't work either because I still needed to know the elusive word for "hood". I guess that's what happens when you live in a city and almost always take the metro. You forget all of the important words pertaining to automobiles.

In the event that you find yourself in a similar situation, here are close-ups of some of the pre-1941 cars and pre-1960 coupés and cabriolets that participated in the rally along with the words for car parts in English and French. Even if you're already fluent in English, French and seven other languages, please click on the photos to enlarge them because the details are amazing.

For more information about the Paris-Deauville Rally, please visit the French Automobile Association's website.

Headlights=les phares; Horn=le claxon

Steering wheel=le volant; windshield=le pare-brise

Spare tire=la roue de secours

Rearview mirror=le rétroviseur; Windshield wipers=l'essuie-glace; Odometer=le compteur kilométrique; Gas gauge=l'indicateur de l'essence

This is the hood (le capot) of the Delage, the car in which I rode during the rally. Please note that there isn't a hood ornament - Ornement de capot!

Fins=Les ailes; License plate=La plaque d'immatriculation

Trunk=Le coffre


  1. Again, I marvel at the inclusive nature of your photographs Mary Kay! This time I particularly envy the photographers eye evident in the shot captioned "Rearview mirror..."

    1. I'm not sure about a "photographer's eye", Baron, but I try! "Rearview Mirror" is one of my favorites because it's a photo of the interior of the Delage, the French automobile in which I was riding. I mainly took it because I was fascinated by all of the buttons and wanted to remember them.

  2. Just be sure not to confuse your genres.... I'd be likely to say une capote, and then I'd be blushing from here to Deauville and back!!!

  3. I love the Bentley hood ornament, so very stylish.

    In the photos of the interiors--I see the rearview mirrors but what are the black GPS-like monitors beneath the mirrors?

  4. It's really exponentially better if you learn French in its country of origin. For the mean time, I'll just continue French classes at an alternative schools perth open class and look forward to flying in Paris for a more effective application. By the way, the pictures are lovely!

  5. Bentley cars really are stylish vehicles. I've seen many bentley car owners having a windscreen repair in auckland.

  6. I wouldn't drive one of those. I would buy one but I won't actually drive one. I will hire a chauffeur and I will just sit at the back like a boss.

  7. I've been living here in France with my husband for quite some time now. I would say that I'm at an advanced level of fluency (I can read, write, and speak!). It's true that the best way to learn a language is to live in the country; I've been getting exposure everyday, it's impossible to go along with my day without thinking in French.

  8. Glad to know about the Paris vehicles and their parts.I am a mechanic by profession and took great interest in the luxurious cars because from my childhood i lived with the cars.Nice work done on the blog.Its very informative about the cars.However if you want to know more about the vehicles or want to track your car so have a look on Buick VIN decoder.

  9. French is very beautiful language. I speak French very well. It is great that you are promoting this language and especially specific topics like automotive one. Here's the vin decoder for all vehicles.

  10. cheers! You have really allured me; I have no words to explain my feelings about your post.

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