Promenades, walks and rides

In French the word promenade (f) /pʀɔm.nad/ can mean a walk: une promenade à pied; a drive: une promenade en voiture, or a (bicycle / horse / sleigh) ride: une promenade à velo / à cheval / en traîneau. You can also talk about going on une promenade en mer / en bateau (a boat trip), or if you going for une promenade à pied, you might follow un sentier de promenade (a footpath) with un sac à dos de promenade (daysack) on your back.

The verb that goes with promenade is faire (to do), so you might say je vais faire une promenade à velo = I’m going for a bike ride. Alternatively the verb (se) promener can be used to mean to go for a walk, ride or drive, and if it’s your fingers or gaze that are going the wandering, the construction to use is se promener sur.

Promenade comes from promener (to walk), from the Latin promenare (to drive (animals) onward) from prō (forth) plus minare (to drive (animals) with shouts), from minari (to threaten), from minae (threats), from the Proto-Indo-European root *men-.

In English promenade originally, in the 16th century, meant “a leisurely walk (ride or drive), especially one taken in a public place so as to meet or be seen by others.” and then was used to refer specifically to a place for taking a such a walk by the sea.

Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary, OED,, Wiktionary

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin.

5 Responses to Promenades, walks and rides

  1. Charlie says:

    Simon wrote: ʻPromenade comes from promener (to walk) […]’

    That’s right, though not in the sense that first comes to an English native speaker’s mind. Rather it is used as a transitive verb: promener quelqu’un/quelque chose, e.g. elle promène son chien ʻshe walks her dog’.

  2. Yenlit says:

    So in French can one ‘faire une promenade …’ take a ‘ride’ in any vehicle: sous-marin (submarine), montgolfière (hot air balloon), motomarine (jet ski), moissonneuse-batteuse (combine harvester), soucoupe volante (flying saucer) etc.?

  3. lukas says:

    Charlie, true, the reflexive “se promener” means “to take a walk” though.

  4. Michel says:

    @Yenlit, faie une promenade can be used in these siuations. Also, “c’est une promenade” means “it’s too easy”. Don’t forget the most famous promenade : la Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, which is the avenue along the sea where the English tourists used to promener themselves.

  5. Andrew says:

    Yup, this is a pattern in the Romance languages, Spanish does something similar, the way to say “take a walk” is “dar un paseo” which literally means “give a walk”. The things that we “do”, they “make” or “give”.


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