(French for ‘coach door’)
A porte-cochère is an entrance, wide enough to accommodate cars and carriages, that leads from the street—through a wall or building—to a courtyard.
True portes-cochères (the proper plural, pronounced the same as the singular) are seldom found in the U.S., but are common in France and other European countries, where they allow access to grand townhouses and certain other structures.
Portes-cochères are usually faced with large double doors that are often arched.
If the courtyard is located behind a building, the porte-cochère will include a tunnel-like structure that allows vehicles to pass by or through the edifice.
The term porte-cochère is also used to refer to a covered area formed by a roof that extends from a building’s entrance over an adjacent sidewalk and driveway. This arrangement, found at many hotels and apartment buildings, is meant to shield passengers from the elements as they enter and exit vehicles.
There’s no other good name for this type of structure, which is why porte-cochère has been pressed into service to describe it.
True word snobs, however, will avoid this usage.
Luc’s Maserati disappeared into the porte-cochère before I could get a good look at it.