How to say "to catch" in French

une roue

Cartable or French schoolbag (c) Kristin Espinasse
Back to School or la rentrée. Max and Jackie in 2004, at our old home in Les Arcs-sur-Argens

une roue
(roo) noun, feminine
1. a wheel

la grande roue = the Ferris wheel
une roue dentée = a cogwheel
un bateau à roues = a paddle boat
véhicule à deux/quatre roues = two-/four-wheeled vehicles
une roue de secours = a spare wheel or tire
une roue de transmission = a driving wheel
la roue de la Fortune = the wheel of Fortune
la cinquième roue du carosse = an entirely useless person, thing

être en roue libre = to freewheel, to coast
pousser à la roue = to lend a helping hand
se mettre en roue libre = (fig.) to take it easy, to do as one likes
faire la roue = to do a cartwheel, (also) to strut about, to swagger; to spread its tail (peacock)

Le succès est comme une grande roue; on ne peut vraiment apprécier la vue que l'on a d'en haut que si l'on redescend quelques fois. Success is like a Ferris wheel; we can only really appreciate the view that we have from up high if we come down a few times. --Yvon Deveault

A Day in a French Life...  by Kristin Espinasse

Six-year-old Jackie is already asking for wheels! Put-putting along the autoroute in our micro car, Jackie shrieks when a cherry red sports car whizzes by:

"Ooh là là! Une FAY-RAR-EE!"

"No, Jackie, that isn't a Ferrari. That is a Toyota!" her brother insists.

My daughter has been hounding me for wheels for some time now. To be clear, she is only asking for two wheels (and not the kind you see spinning under French teens as they speed through the village, zig-zagging through traffic). The wheels Jackie longs for are attached to a hefty, multi-pocketed cartable.

I don't blame my daughter for wanting wheels on her schoolbag—you should see the amount of books she has to carry home each day! After one year of yearning for such a schoolbag-sur-roulettes, her wish was granted. Thursday morning she gingerly wheeled her new bag into the schoolyard....

Soon enough she discovered that the cartable à roulettes wasn't so easy to navigate through the hordes of bag-encumbered élèves. So she pushed in the collapsible handlebar, hoisted the bag onto her back, and threaded her way through traffic to class.

This morning at breakfast she inquired about graduating to four wheels. "Maman," she began, "quand je serai grande, tu m'achèteras une voiture?"  I'd better start stashing euros aside now. The good news is I'll have an extra year to save as French teens don't start driving solo until they are dix-sept years old.  

French Vocabulary

une autoroute
(f) = a motorway

fay-rar-ee = pronunciation for Ferrari

un cartable (m) = schoolbag

une roulette = a small wheel

une élève (f) = a student

maman (f) = a mother

dix-sept ans = seventeen

Update: Jackie, 5 years after this story was written... The wheels get bigger every year. Soon she'll be driving.

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