How to say late bloomer in French
"Bed sheet" in French: On teaching your kids last-minute lessons

Say ride share or car share in French: covoiturage

Ride or walk
What's your favorite way to get around France? Walk or ride? If you said "ride," then today's covoiturage tip is for you! 

le covoiturage (ko-vwah-tewr-ahzh)

    : rideshare, carshare, carsharing, carpool

Audio File and Example SentenceDownload MP3 or Wav file

BlablaCar est un service de covoiturage economique, ecologique et convivial. BlaBlaCar is a carpool service that's economical, ecological and convivial.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Fill 'er up with passengers!

Certain members of my family are enjoying a new and inexpensive and efficient way to travel around France: le covoiturage!

This all began a few weeks back, when Jean-Marc traveled to the west coast to see about more grapevines (he just can't help himself!). Chief Grape was going to take the train, but that would limit him sur place (how to get to those hilltop vineyards?). That's when he discovered BlaBlaCar.  

"The Paris-based BlaBlaCar helps match up drivers and passengers for long trips across Europe while avoiding the regulatory issues that have tripped up Uber."

While BlaBlaCar might not help a passenger get from sea-level to the top of those hilly vineyards (the service is more for city-to-city travel), as a driver my husband could enjoy those benefits and more for his séjour in Collioure (the coastal town where he'd be lodging, not far from appellation Banyuls)! 

Faster than you can say VROOM!, Jean-Marc was loading his car with his beloved bike and a bevy of complete strangers! Finding the passagers was easy: all my husband had to do was type in his departure and arrival coordinates. BlaBlaCar then begins its interrogation: "would you be willing to pick up someone in Cassis? And in Marseilles? And in Montpellier?... All cities cited are right on the driven path, so a driver needn't go out of his way.

"The key competitive advantage of the company is that it’s much cheaper to share a ride than to take a train or a plane. The average 200 miles ride costs $25 on average." article on BlaBlaCar

You never know what kind of car you'll travel in, when you sign up for covoiturage. But if you happen to get our car (a family van) it will be a little cozier than the one above--if not as charming!

This morning Jean-Marc headed for the Alps, where he'll be roughing it for next three days (I'm staying behind, to meet a few writing deadlines--or, to say it another way: I don't do well camping all night and biking all day with large groups of people!).

My husband left an hour earlier than scheduled after the BlaBlarCar app informed him last night of a new potential passenger--just up the road in La Ciotat. 

"You're going to get up at 4 a.m. instead of 5, just so you can have one more passenger? Is it really worth it?" I asked, amazed.

But I don't need to hear the answer, I can already understand the satisfaction of filling one's car to the brim with paying travelers! (I'm remembering back to that solo and pricy aller-retour I made to airport in Nice last month, to pick up my daughter. Instead of paying $60 in gas and toll fees, I could have cashed in on a car full of passengers and enjoyed some company along the way!)

"There's even a social aspect to it: The app's name derives from just users rate themselves on how chatty they want to be in the car, from “Bla” to “BlaBlaBla." (Christian Science Monitor article on BlaBlaCar)

Speaking of my daughter, she is the latest fan of covoiturage. Recently Jackie opted for rideshare instead of taking the train from St. Cyr to Aix-en-Provence--saving herself 10 euros (15 euros one way to Aix, only 5 euros when you share the ride). She and her best friend were chauffered by a young law student from Sanary sur Mer. (Jean-Marc and I checked out his profile on BlaBlaCar's website and verified passenger feedback. We could also note his phone number, which is more than we could do had the girls secretly hitchhiked--as so many French kids do!)

When I called my Mom in Mexico, telling her about the new and inexpensive way to travel across France, she begged for a return visit. "I want to go to Aix... and Marseilles... and why not Paris!" Meantime she encouraged me to hop on the bandwagon. "Get out and see the world!" she cheered.

Now to get over my hang-up of sharing confined spaces. Maybe after that I'll go camping with my husband ... who'll then have to sacrifice one of his paid seats, just for me :-)

*    *    *
Post note: I wish BlaBlaCar had an affiliate program. I might have hit the jackpot after today's glowing review! Instead, the company encourages citizens to spread the word for free; in return we are making the world a little greener. How's that for compensation?

Ken kobre jean-marc espinasse

Kristi Ken Betsy Jean-Marc

What a chance to watch Ken Kobré (center) film Jean-Marc for Ken's documentary on rosé, "The Color of Wine." That's Betsy, Ken's charming wife and assistant, cradling a bottle of Domaine Rouge-Bleu. And there's Jean-Marc--can you see him in the window?

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

That is interesting that SNCF bought up the long distance ride-sharing app. The name is pretty funny, too.

I can see that your husband as the driver sees it completely as saving some money on a trip he has to make anyway.

Me, I have always liked to ride trains, not have to pay attention to the road.

Suzanne Dunaway

What do you do about a really bad driver?


As you say, "you never know what kind of car you'll travel in" and the other thing is you never know the state of repair of the vehicle and the driving competence and character of the person behind the wheel. What if the car breaks down when you have a plane to catch? At least a proper taxi can call for backup.

There have been enough reports in the USA of bad situations with Uber (including an attack by the Uber driver on a woman passenger) for me to decide that is not for me. Yes, I know bad things can happen in taxis too, but I'm still more comfortable where I know there is proper regulation.

Kristin Espinasse

Suzanne, thats where the ratings system comes in handy! P.S. Jean-Marc has excellent ratings so far ;-)

Pamela Blair

Blablacar may seem new, but in 1972 there was PROVOYA, a service in Paris that hooked up drivers with riders. I rode from Paris to Munich in a Deux Chevaux (that looked a little like the one in your photo) with three people, my backpack in the trunk, a basket of food and a sack full of tapes for the tape recorder on my lap. It was a delightful ride--an American (me), a young boy from Guadalupe, a Française who'd lived all her life in West Africa, and her African boyfriend, the driver. A few weeks later PROVOYA found me a ride, with a Canadian I'd found to travel with, a Française and the Spanish driver, from Paris to Barcelona. Both trips were extremely cheap, and with great travel companions.

Catharine Ewart-Touzot the DC (Washington) area they have a "slugging" pick up riders to be able to use the express lanes..into DC, my son did it all the time, I thought it was "dangerous"..but he said that mostly military or contractors used it..guess it all depends on who you are and what you can feel comfortable I age I am less comfortable with a lot of these schemes...but I can imagine that it would be an interesting way to arrive someplace with some fine new friends and save money in the process..the things I did in my youth did not kill me and some of the things I consider now to be not overly bright..I did without really thinking of "what could happen"..but that is youth.

Audrey Wilson

My only concern would be the insurance cover ?
I did do this many years ago in London during the bus strike, but had a notice in the car which stated 'at your own risk' .
Otherwise , it is an interesting idea

Joan Linneman

It sounds like the travelling equivalent of staying in youth hostels, which are not just for young people any more. Obviously, if you have an appointment or flight that you absolutely positively cannot be late for, you make your own arrangements. But if you want to meet people, save a little money, and maybe have an adventure, this sounds great. I wish I were more "bla-bla-bla", but unfortunately I'm only "bla" with strangers. :(
Joan L.

Kristin Espinasse

Sarah, Thanks for your feedback. Correction to my text : the SNCF did not buy BlaBlaCar -- but has been inspired to adopt the same strategy.

Barry Draper

Today's word (le covoiturage (ko-vwah-tewr-ahzh)) reminds me of the question: "how does one eat an elephant?" Answer: "One bite at a time." This word is a mouthful, however, I am stoked to learn it! Thank goodness for the phonetics breakdown :).

I know there are several benefits to le covoiturage, but utilizing it is a mindset I would probably have to get used to. I could probably do it.
However, I have a 16 yo daughter and I would be apprehensive in letting her ride with a stranger using this service! I would definitely follow the same precautions y'all did. The movie "Taken" with Liam Neeson comes to mind!

In my experience, ride-sharing isn't common in the U.S. with the exception being in metro areas like Washington DC/LA/Atlanta. Drivers may then use the preferential diamond lane for HOV(High Occupant Vehicles) provided for carpooling/ride-sharing.

Is ride-sharing in non-metro areas a commonplace thing in France?

Diane Young

Jean-Marc is perfect kind of person for this BlaBla as he is outgoing, trusting, strong, etc. Think a lot of us are like you - wary of strangers. Life used to be safer. Now, not so much. Glad he can do it as it certainly saves some cash.


Our Dear Kristi,
Loved today's post(as always!) and the beautiful pictures!
Wow! How times have changed for means of transportation(!) and it is awesome the way your family has kept up with them!
Looking forward to the video--especially enjoyed the ones on Yabla!
Once again you have wrapped us in hugs!
Thank you!
Natalia XO


Love this post - I was in Collieur several years ago and am totally green with envy that anyone gets to go there. Such a pretty seaside village and lots of wineries around in the hills. Very exciting for your winery. BlaBla sounds great - I could use them here when I drive out to Seattle area during the summers. Will check to see if they are in the USA. Thank you for sharing. I love your posts.

Leslie in Oregon

Our adult children, who live in NYC and the Bay Area, use rideshare services all the time, and they've had no bad experiences. BlablaCar sounds great, and I look forward to using it on my next trip to Europe when rail travel is not feasible. Blablacar could not be nearly as risky as some of the taxi rides I've taken in the U.S. and abroad; it conserves energy when the alternative is driving alone, and it is a way to meet new people when travelling. Like room/house rental services and food carts, rideshare services are spreading all over the urban U.S., but hotels, restaurants and taxi companies are crying foul and local authorities are striving to regulate (and tax) the services these new options provide. (Whether the regulation those local authorities provide is worth the taxes they impose is debatable, IMHO.) I hope that rideshare services, food carts and room/home rental services are able to survive whatever those authorities impose, as they provide a valuable (and for many of us, preferable) alternative to the more traditional (and expensive) options.


Great in theory and I hope also in practice. However, I've had mixed experiences with sharing rides - and that was with people I already knew!
It's always a treat to visit your blog. Warm regards

Ally Davis

Safety issues?

Lynne near WInchester UK

Interesting but I do not think it would work here because of insurance issues and also safety ,especially for young girls. I pity the person who might get me ! I am a real chatterbox and would spend all the time trying not to talk too much so as not to drive them mad!
By the way paid not payed in this instance.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Love the photos and the short clips of Jean-Marc. BlaBlaCar sounds like it would be fun for people who want to save money and meet new people. I would be wary of something like that in the states.

Cathy de floride

J'adore Blah Blah Car formerly I have used it several times over four years and have nothing but glowing reviews to give. As a 62 year old American, I delight in the chance to meet and talk with the drivers and fellow co-voyituage passengers. You learn the look at sortis and rond points, pulled over cars with open trunks, people standing waiting for the hand off. I have become friends with some of my drivers and check with them first. A GREAT and inexpensive way to travel. Do it!!!!! Bonnes routes à tous!!!!

Cathy de floride

Having read concerns people have posted I have to say that what sold me originally on the service was that I was able to read reviews. Reviews of both driversas well as of passengers. You can see how long someone has been a driver, what kind of car they drive. Drivers can check out passengers. I will always choose a veteran driver if I have a choice. I chose my first driver because he had positive reviews and one said he had transported their rabbit. Haha! That's who I wanted!! Turns out he's a Marseilles detective that lives in Perpignan do transits twice a week. So doing some research in advance and you can avoid a lot of surprises. Yes, it was a bit odd to climb into a car with three strange men at 1:30 in the morning at a parking area at a highway exit. But that miracle ride took me directly to Barcelona airport for a 6 am flight. Hip hip hooray for Blah Blah Car and the people who use it!!

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Kristin thanks for the link to the article.
I see the SNCF interest now, car pool to the train station.

I do like the name BlaBlaCar a lot. Totally French.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)