Constructeur (Fr) "Different from a framebuilder, a constructeur actually builds the entire bike, including proprietary components and others that are modified for the purpose.
Randonneur and camping bikes are the specialty of constructeurs. Few constructeurs exist outside France."
There's only a Channel physically separating us, but there's more than language that differentiates the French and Brits. The national psyche is very different.
The top bicycle builders were highly regarded in French society, which considered their work to be an art form and therefore an integral part of the national culture.
It's interesting to note that although Great Britain was a leading manufacturer of bicycles, British marques have never achieved a similar status within our own national consciousness. In France, everyone appreciated the top bike makers; the only comparison that comes to mind is the way that, here, we may revere film, music and football personalities.
The top French fashion houses had a similar perspective; to the Haute Couturiers, their own creations were on a par with the great French artistic tradition.
The top bike builders not only saw themselves in the same way, but they also considered themselves equal to the fashion houses. Indeed, both genres created their products from scratch: a constructeur such as A. Zwang would manufacture any component in-house to guarantee quality control, and each bicycle built was a bespoke service. This Zwang is powered by a top-of-the-range Cucciolo 48cc engine. In Italian cucciolo means 'Little Puppy' and this early 4-stroke bicycle auxiliary engine is one of the earliest Ducati models... from the days before Ducati made complete motorcycles!
Whereas, in Great Britain, bicycles and cyclemotors (or mopeds) were manufactured for the masses and sold on the basis of their competitive prices, in France, since the twenties, there had also been a market for extremely upmarket 'fashionable' cyclemotors. Their selling point? ... Exclusivity and their high prices.
In its day, this machine would have been one of the most expensive cyclemotors you could buy. It was a bespoke creation and was the equivalent of the Brough Superior of the cyclemotor world.