étage (floor, storey, level)

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In France, the floors are numbered differently, so that the Noble Floor, which is the 2ème étage, is what we would call the 3rd floor in the US. For the ground floor, which the Americans call floor 1, the French have a separate term: rez-de-chaussée.

This can be confusing

Rez-de-Chaussee (Lower Ground Floor) Level with the Ground
Entresol (Ground Floor) – Mezzanine above the ground floor
1er Etage (1st Floor) – 2nd Floor The floor above the ground floor
2me Etage (2nd Floor) – 3rd Floor The Nobel Floor where the wealthy people might live l’étage noble

In France this distinction is between:
2ème étage (3rd Floor): The Noble Floor, high above ground, perhaps with a balcony overlooking the street
(far removed from the dirty plebeian street level)
Rez-de-Chaussee (1st Floor-Ground Floor) “floor-of-carriageway” or “floor-of-roadway”
(right down on the dirty street)

In France, there are two distinct names for storeys in buildings which have two “ground floors” at different levels (on two opposite faces, usually). The lower one is called rez-de-chaussée (lit. “adjacent to the road”), the upper one is rez-de-jardin (lit. “adjacent to the garden”).

rez-de-chaussee

rez-de-chaussee

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