French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Motocyclettes fabriquées en France (U,V,W)

Notes on some of the rarer French marques

This page lists brands for which we currently have only an historical precis. There is also a page on really obscure French brands.
For a more complete listing visit the French Index.


Uldry 1920s

Built a 250cc motorcycle in 1928 powered by an OHV Zurcher engine, with a Burman gearbox.
There is only one survivor, and it has been identified as a Ravat type ESS6.
A Unica bicycle brand existed in the 1950s built by Emile Trétarre in Roanne at 9 rue Carnot. It is not known if there was a relationship.

Sources: Motos dans la Loire,

Bicycle business in Nice (Boulevard du Riquier) believed to have built motorcycles. Founded by Dominique Urago with his brothers François and Joseph in the mid 1930s, the firm produced bicycles until 1964 and operated until 2009. The bicycles were highly regarded and were exported to the United States.


vacances logo

Built by Mercier from 1954 to 1960, some models had the 98cc Comet engine from Le Poulain
Sources: LMF

Motor-bicycle with 2-stroke engine. Engaged in the M.C.F. in 1903. Rider: Jangneau.
Bourdache p166


Paul Nicolas Valter was born in 1868 in Dieuze (Moselle), which at the time was German territory. He gained French nationality in 1898, after having served with the French forces.

He established the Valter company in Paris around 1896 as a bicycle manufacturer. Advertisements appeared in 1901 for a Bicyclette à pétrole fitted with a Valter 2½ h.p. engine.

The following year a new company was formed with his partner Caroline Meyer, and the name for the new machine was La Foudre.


Vampire (Engines)
G.M.R. 8 Bd Gouvion St Cyr, Paris 17
From 1950 to 1954 they built 48cc 2-speed two-stroke engines.
There is mention of a marque named Vampire à Le Cannet in the same period, listed as using ABG VAP engines.
Sources: La Moto Francaise,


Louis Vannod of Neuilly (Seine-Saint-Denis) and Puteaux began building sidecars in the 1920s

In 1958 they displayed an unusual microcar with three seats at the Paris Salon. It had four wheels in rhomboid (or "diamond") pattern - one at the front, one at the rear, and two in the middle. Both the front and rear wheels were steerable. The driver sat in front, two passengers in the rear.

Sources: OTTW, et al

Variomatic (Engines)
S.C.A.M.O., 14 Rue Robespierre, Bagnolet (Seine)
In 1955 they produced 49cc engines
Source: La Moto Francaise
N.B. This possibly relates to Société Colomb, Bagnolet

Motorcycle which entered the Paris-Madrid 1903 event, ridden by its creator, Vaurs, who invented the carburettor of the same name.
Bourdache pp 172, 222, 252.

Vauzelle-Morel 1902


The Velam Isetta was built by Véhicule Léger à Moteur under licence from ISO Rivolta at the Talbot factory at Suresnes in the years 1955 to 1958. They were licenced to sell the vehicles in France, Belgium and Spain. Iso had sold the tooling for the Isetta to BMW, so the French version differed in numerous details to the Italian machine.

Velam built at least 5 versions of the Isseta including a cabriolet, the Ecrin and racing and sports specials. Production figures vary, but it appears that around 7000 vehicles were built.

The Velam had the appearance of a 3-wheeler, but in fact it had two rear wheels, closely spaced.

Sources:, et al

These were four-stroke engines manufactured by Soma in St Etienne used by Alcyon in 1948. Production lasted until about 1954.
See also Serwa
Source: Motos dans la Loire

Veloto Mopeds 1948

Véloto Microcars

Manufactured by Jean Bellier, Societe BEL-Motors, Les Sables-d'Olonne, 1976-1980.

Bellier initially built 50cc microcars for children from 1968, followed by Velosolex-powered 2-seaters named the Buggy F85 which could be driven sans permis. It was produced until 1976 and was widely exported. Other models: Type A was pedal start; Type B had electric start activated via the ignition key; Type BL had a Motobecane 49cc engine and spoked wheels; the C-10 S was introduced in 1979, followed in 1980 by the Minoto with a polyester and aluminium body. The Minoto did not enter production, and that year the company name changed to Bellier - see see

There is no relationship with the Veloto company of the 1950s.

Sources: Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum, Wikpedia,

73 rue Claude Deschamps, Paris
Motorcycle entered in the one third of a litre criterium of 1903, and again in 1905 under the marque Velox-Levraux, ridden by Daudre.
In 1906 they built tricars and Velox engines.
Bourdache p209


Based in Grenoble, Vial was authorised by M. Rocher to sell the Cucciolo engines which they built under licence. The machine pictured uses a frame by Verlicchi.

Source: Phil Aynsley

Villard 1925-1935

35 rue Arago, Puteaux
Constructed motorcycles and tricars, and supplied engines to Contal and Chanon.
The firm was established by Eugene Villemain who was joined by his two sons Benoît-Eugène Villemain and his brother Alfred Pierre who was also a motorcycle and automobile racer.
Alfred died in an accident on August 3, 1907 - due to a reporting error it has frequently been stated that it was his father Eugene who died on that date. Eugene died in 1914.
Benoît continued with the business manufacturing car parts in Puteaux until 1922.
In 1904 and 1905 a Villemain motorcycle participated in the Criterium events.
Bourdache pp 93, 209, 220.
See also

Pre-war address: 188 rue d'Alesia (Paris 14)
Manufactured by Ets. DF Constructors, Gentilly Seine, these were small two-stroke engines of 45 and 48cc built from 1950-57. The Vimer engine was used in the Wereld moped of the Netherlands.
The Vimer name is derived from that of M. Villard who is believed to have traded as Vimer-Mercier, so there was possibly a relationship with the Mercier firm. DF built aviation components both before and after the war, and closed in 1969.
Sources: Wikipedia NL, Philippe Lefebvre (Motos Francaise archive).

Cycles and mopeds in produced in Saint Etienne. A photograph shows a moped with a Vap4 engine.

Source: Motos dans la Loire

25 rue Brunel, Paris, 1901~1910
Gaston Vinet built motor tricycles and quadricycles powered by De Dion and Aster, 1899~1903. In 1904 Vinet began experimenting with gliders and from 1910 he built several experimental powered aircraft.
Sources: Bourdache p442; Motor Cycling; Wikipedia DE.

Vinet, N'euilly, show three complete cars and one chassis. Two of these cars are handsome closed-in vehicles, with four seats. These are fitted with two-cylinder "Aster" motors of 12 h.p., and three speeds are provided, giving 16, 28 and 50 kilometres per hour. The carburetter is of the Longuemare type. The drive on to the rear wheel is by chain from the differential shaft which is mounted in the gear box. Framework is of ash and channel steel. Two powerful band brakes are fitted to the back wheel. A silencer of large dimensions is a good feature. The car is well sprung, and all parts are easy of access. Wheels are of equal size. The ignition is on the high tension coil system. The four-seated voiturette is finished off in white, and is a fine looking car.

Paris Salon 1902 in Motor Cycling, December 17th, 1902. Page 340

Manufactured by Malinge & Laulan, Angers, 1901
Established in 1869, the firm produced bicycles and, from 1899, automobiles and petroleum tricycles powered by De Dion-Bouton engines. These were built in their factory on rue Béclard and sold from their garage at 23 rue Paul-Bert, Angers.

Vitrex 1974-1980

V.L.T. Engines


Produced by Mercier (1899).

Built BMA machines in the late 40s and possibly 1950s. Their address in 1932 was 51 Rue Désiré Claude in St Etienne, and H. Mathevet may have been the owner.
Source: Motos dans la Loire


The marque is possibly from c.1932, and the constructor may have been Pertuisot of 23 Rue des Acacias, Paris.

Two images both show similar models with 350cc Staub-JAP OHV engines with 3 speed gearboxes. No manufacturer details are on the images, and further research has proved unfruitful.

Sources: La Moto Francaise, et al.

Images show a badge on the steering stem which reads "Winster EMP", apparently French. Frame almost bare, no engine or tank. Front guard has toolbox mounted on it, making it quite distinctive.
Remains of gearbox and clutch, chain drive, sans pedales, rigid with girder forks, tank mounted between upper and lower frame rails.
La Moto Francaise


Zoller 1920s-1930s


French Resources

Rarer French Marques