Street Signs and Addresses
by David Applefield
In French, your address and phone number are your coordonnées (literally, ´coordinates´). Some addresses may seem strange at first, but you´ll learn these nuances rapidly. You can live on a rue, an avenue, a boulevard, an impasse, a cour, a passage, a parc or a chemin.
The street number may be a regular whole number like 34 or 7 or 178, but it may also have an extra bit, bis or ter, which means that the house is attached or adjacent to the property that takes the whole number.
Other aspects of the address: bâtiment (building name or number), escalier (stairway), étage (floor), code (door code), È† droite (to the right) or È† gauche (to the left). When visiting someone, always get as much of this information as possible. People usually will tell you something like this: J´habite au 35, Boulevard du Montparnasse, escalier C au fond de la cour, quatriĀ¸me étage È† gauche (I live at 35, Boulevard de Montparnasse, stairway C, at the back of the courtyard, fourth floor, on the left).
If you see Cedex at the end of an address, it simply means that the address is a post office box and the mail is kept at the post office. Most buildings have either a door code, which is activated at night, or a buzzer system outside the building, called an interphone. There will always be a button to activate the door, marked porte, and, on the inside, a lit button to turn on the timer for the lights in the stairwell. When going to someone´s house, always ask if there is a door code, since many buildings now have them on all day and night.
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