11 October 2009

Chasse-roue or bouteroue

You learn something every day. The Beaver asked yesterday, in a comment, what people call those little stumps of rock or concrete that you see up against the frames or posts of big doorways and gateways in France. Walt was sitting on one in Salers when I took his picture (here's a link to the photo that I posted yesterday). And here's a closer view, where you can see the object in question. Actually, Walt is sitting on one.

Sitting on a chasse-roue in Salers

I found several French sites that describe these things and show pictures of them. The object is called called « un chasse-roue » [shah-SROO] or « une bouteroue » [boo-TROO]. It was a Google image search on borne porte cochère that turned them up — porte cochère means "carriage entrance." These are architectural elements I've always seen in French towns and cities, but I never thought about a name for them. Here are some sites and blogs with details:
Detail of the gate decoration in Salers

The two terms are also in the Grand Larousse Electronique dictionary:

CHASSE-ROUE n. m. — Techn. (anciennt). Borne ou arc métallique placé à l'angle d'une porte, d'un mur... pour en écarter les roues des voitures.

BOUTEROUE n. f. — Technique ou histoire. Borne placée à l'angle d'un édifice, d'un mur, d'une porte pour en écarter les roues des voitures.
When the dictionary says « voitures », it doesn't mean modern automobiles. It means horse-drawn carts, wagons, or carriages. These chasse-roues (that's the plural form given in the Robert dictionary) are left over from earlier centuries, when « voitures » had large wooden or metal wheels. Hitting a chasse-roue wouldn't damage the vehicle and the chasse-roue would protect the wall or the door post. Nowadays, you can badly damage your car if you scrape a chasse-roue pulling into our out of a doorway or gateway, as The Beaver pointed out.

Two pictures I took this morning at sunrise —
fog in the river valley down the hill from our hamlet...

...and the sunrise itself.
Click on the pictures to see them at full size. I posted them a little larger than usual.

In searching for pictures of bornes I also found a very interesting site called Martian Spoken Here. The word "Martian" is a bilingual pun on the French word « mauricien », and the subject of the blog is the French dialect spoken on the Ile Maurice — the island of Mauritius — in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. If you read French you will enjoy it.


  1. Oh, what a delightful find! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. I've only visited France 4 times, but adore it! --Julia

  2. Our next trip will definately include Salers Ken.

  3. I might have a specific post on "bornes" one of these days, with more pictures, but I'm afraid I'm not quite ready yet.

    Siganus K., Martian

  4. I learned something new today. Merci Ken! Great pictures.

  5. Bonjour Cousine,
    A lot for you on this post, isn't it? From beginning to end.

    I didn't know about chasse-roues or bouteroues.

    Neither did I know the same bornes kilométriques used in France exist also in the former Ile de France.

    I hope I'm not too cryptic? LOL MDR

  6. Very informative, Professor Ken! Great photos, too!


  7. Ken,

    Thank you for the explanations- I should have done my homework and research when I came back from our trip from France last year but one thing leading to another, I didn't give it a thought and only when I saw the "bornes" in the picture that I was reminded of our adventure and experience at the gîtes .

    Zut !!!
    Bonjour Charles-Henry, ne vendez pas la chandelle :-)
    There are a lot of similarities between France and its former colonies.
    Like the word "astère" meaning "maintenant". I have encountered it whilst conversing with the "Cajuns" from Lafayette in LA and from the "joual" spoken in parts of the Québec province .

  8. The Beaver, I don't quite know who Charles-Henry might be, but I suspect that you are Canadian. If “astère” is used in Québec's joual, it is used in Mauritius too — primarily in Creole, from which it has been imported into the local form of French —, to mean “now” as you mentioned. It comes from the French expression "à cette heure" (at this time) and I believe that in various French regions people would eat up some syllables and say "à c'te heure". Nonetheless, it is quite funny to see that the American cousins, from Quebec and Louisiana, have "astère" too.

    Regarding the "chasse-roue", I too learned something today: the name of that short stone pillar that I photographed in Port-Louis some time back. I’ve learned “bouteroue”.

  9. Cool. Thanks for the French lesson. It is appreciated.

  10. Thanks for the link ;)

    fred Orain


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?