Does the song Au clair de la lune, mon ami Pierrot ring a bell? If you learnt some French when you were a child, you certainly remember most of the French songs they taught you. Teachers use songs for children to learn the alphabet, numbers or even the seasons.
We all noticed that music and rhymes make vocabulary easier to memorize. That's because there is a scientific link between music and memory. A study at the University of Edinburgh showed how singing can facilitate learning a language.
Listening to French songs and singing along is something you can do anywhere. Thanks to smartphones you can use apps like French Translator Dictionary + to look up words and translate lyrics on your iPhone or Android. Learning French has never been so easy and fun!
There are thousands of beautiful songs that can help you learn French. We narrowed the list down to 5 of our favorites. Some are timeless classics and others are pop hits. Start listening today and you'll be singing like a real Frenchie in no time.
If you think 'My way' is an American song, you are wrong. The original song is called Comme d'habitude, meaning 'As usual', and was written by Claude François in 1967. He died in 1978 and was one of the most popular French singers ever. Here is an excerpt of the song lyrics:
Je me lève
I'm getting up
Et je te bouscule
And I jostle you
Tu ne te réveilles pas
You do not wake up
Sur toi, je remonte le drap
On you, I raise the sheet
J'ai peur que tu aies froid
I'm afraid you're cold
This is one of the most beautiful French love songs from genius Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel. When Ne me quitte pas, meaning 'Don't leave me', was released in the late 1950s, it was not well received by the public. Indeed, some of the lyrics did not correspond to the image of the 'male' of the time. The song might have been initially written for a woman singer. This excerpt will let you guess why:
Ne me quitte pas
Don't leave me
Je ne vais plus pleurer
I won't cry anymore
Je ne vais plus parler
I won't talk anymore
Je me cacherai là
I will hide myself there
À te regarder
To watch you
Danser et sourire
Dancing and smiling
Et à t'écouter
And listening to you
Chanter et puis rire
Singing and then laughing
Let me become
L'ombre de ton ombre
The shadow of your shadow
L'ombre de ta main
The shadow of your hand
L'ombre de ton chien
The shadow of your dog
Ne me quitte pas
Don't leave me
La vie en rose, literally 'Life in pink', is certainly the most famous French song in the world and its performer, Edith Piaf, one of the greatest French singer of all times. Voir la vie en rose is a common French expression that means 'to look on the bright side of life' or 'to see life through rose-tinted spectacles'. Take a look at this excerpt from the song to feel a wave of optimism:
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
When he takes me in his arms
Qu'il me parle tout bas
That he speaks to me softly
Je vois la vie en rose
I see life through rose-tinted spectacles
Il me dit des mots d'amour
He tells me love words
Des mots de tous les jours
Et ça me fait quelque chose
And it does something to me
Dommage, meaning 'Shame' or 'Pity', is the song that made famous this young French hip-hop duo composed of two brothers in 2017. The song evokes four characters: Louis, a timid young man who does not dare to confess his love to a woman he meets every day on the bus, and ends up never seeing her again; Yasmine, a woman who dreams of becoming a singer despite strong objections from her father, and finishes as a worker in a factory; Diego, who prefers to stay at home, instead of going in the evening and finding the love of his life; Pauline, a married woman beaten by her husband, who does not dare to break the marriage and ends up dead.
The moral of the song is that one should rather live with remorse than with regret or in French 'Vaut mieux vivre avec des remords qu'avec des regrets'. Here is an excerpt with the story of Yasmine:
Yasmine a une belle voix, elle sait qu'elle est douée
Yasmine has a beautiful voice, she knows she is gifted
Dans la tempête de sa vie, la musique est sa bouée
In the storm of her life, music is her buoy
Face à sa mélodie, le monde est à ses pieds
Faced with her melody, the world is at her feet
Mais son père lui répétait "trouve-toi un vrai métier"
But his father kept telling her, "find yourself a real job"
Parfois elle s'imagine sous la lumière des projecteurs
Sometimes she imagines herself in the spotlight
Sur la scène à recevoir les compliments et les jets de fleurs
On the stage to receive compliments and jets of flowers
Mais Yasmine est rouillée, coincée dans la routine
But Yasmine is rusty, stuck in the routine
Ça lui arrive de chanter quand elle travaille à l'usine
She sometimes sings when she works at the factory
Ah elle aurait du y aller, elle aurait du le faire, crois-moi
Oh she should have gone, she should have, believe me
On a tous dit "ah c'est dommage, ah c'est dommage, c'est peut-être la dernière fois"
We all said "ah it's a shame, ah it's a shame, this may be the last time"
This will be even easier with a song containing simple and basic words like this one from OrelSan, very famous young French rapper and songwriter. 'Basique' is a set of sentences that are political or societal statements of the singer. Here are some examples in the excerpt below:
Les gens les plus intelligents sont pas toujours ceux qui parlent le mieux - simple
The most intelligent people aren't always the ones who speak well - simple
Les hommes politiques doivent mentir sinon tu voterais pas pour eux - basique
Politicians have to lie or else you wouldn't vote for them - basic
Si tu dis souvent que tu n'as pas de problème avec l'alcool, c'est que tu en as un - simple
If you often say you don't have a problem with alcohol, it's because you have one - simple
Faut pas faire un enfant avec les personnes que tu connais pas bien - basique
Don't make a child with people you don't know well - basic
Want to learn French vocabulary and expressions used by native speakers in their everyday life? Check out these great articles.
- French Slang Words and Phrases
- Funny French Idioms
- French Internet Slang Acronyms
- French Verb Conjugation
- French Love Words and Sayings
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Ce n'est qu'un au revoir ! (This is just a goodbye!)
Lead French Linguist