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What does the au in the following example signify?

8:20 Arrivée des élèves. Nous allons les chercher au train.

Does that mean that we are picking up the pupils "by train" (i.e. we are using the train to bring them here, e.g. from the airport), or that we are going to pick them up "at the train" when they arrive by train?

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    By train would have been en train.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 11 at 14:16
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"au" is the contraction of "à le" (at the). So it means "at the train"

"à la gare" (at the station) would be more elegant.

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    More elegant but less precise, especially if the station is large. Au train means you pick the pupils directly on the platform while à la gare might just mean you wait at a meeting point or even outside the station.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 11 at 14:16
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    @jlliagre aller chercher au train can still be quite vague on wether you're picking up the person on the platform or just at the station (at least in my understanding).
    – XouDo
    Oct 13 at 8:01
  • @XouDo Aller chercher au train is a rare compared to chercher à la gare (between 20 and 30 times more rare according to Google Books) so in my opinion, when you use it, you want to pass an extra piece of information. This is even more true when talking about pupils. In any case, while au train might still be quite vague in some cases, it is nevertheless more precise than à la gare.
    – jlliagre
    Oct 13 at 10:12

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