Where does the term “char-a-bane” come from and What does char-a-bane mean?

Even if you know your French, but have never actually seen this vehicle, the name “char-a-bane”, “car with bench,” will not give you much of a picture of it.

Actually this “benched carriage” strongly resembled the motor bus that has replaced it.

It was long and narrow, and the transverse “benches” or seats faced forward.