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15 of the most beautiful French songs of all time

Fans of French music, this article is just for you! Here’s a compilation of the 15 best 100% French tunes, which we’re all really proud of. From rock to rap: there’s definitely something for you in here.

15) “Je m’en vais” by Vianney

Within this melancholic ballad, Vianney paints out a break up and its lasting consequences: regret, tears, and painful memories. Get lost in the melody, the soft rhythm, the electric refrains.

14) “Je l’aime à mourir” by Francis Cabrel

Surely, one of the most beautiful songs of the artist who has grown up in Italy and Spain to reach his success in France. Surprising – this song was written in one hour.

13) “Pour que tu m’aimes encore” by Céline Dion

This song was written by Jean-Jacques Goldman and interpreted beautifully by Céline Dion. This song talks about the girl who never runs away from or makes fun of romance.

12) “Foule sentimentale” by Alain Souchon

Here, Alain critiques the emptiness of a consumer society which pushes us to buy things and to believe that “true happiness is to have our wardrobes full”. The emptiness of society is shown in iconic figures of the early 90s such as the model Claudia Schieffer and the French businessman Paul-Loup Sulitzer.

11) “Dis quand reviendras-tu ?” by Barbara

This melody was inspired by the relationship between the singer and the diplomat Hubert Ballay. The song tells us about a woman separated from her lover expecting him to come back. In fact, Barbara’s husband was often absent because of his constant diplomatic missions between France and Ivory Coast. Like in the song, Barbara is not a woman who’s going to wait, the lyrics reading “I’m not someone who dies from grief, I’m not like those sailors’s wives”.


10) “Demain c’est loin” by IAM

From the famous rap group from Marseille, this track is one of the French rap classics. Over the course of nearly 9 minutes, the team of IAM express themselves one by one, talking about their housing estates, and what sort of opportunities young people growing up in that kind of area get.

9) “Le vent nous portera” by Noir Desir

With this 2011 song, Noir Désir made clear their new musical direction: “softer” rock with much richer lyricism. “Le vent nous portera” looks at the themes of memory and time passing.

8) “Le Sud” by Nino Ferrer

Considered as the last great success of the singer, this song is about the happiness of living. It talks about childhood country of Nino Ferrer: New Caledonia. “South” is a cover of one of those previous English titles made with singer Radjah Frye.

7) “Cendrillon” by Telephone

This famous French rock band tells the story of a woman in three periods of her life. If at the age of 20 she wants to be dreamy and romantic, she finds herself alone and sad at 30, and finishes as a prostitute and drug addict at the age 40. This song criticises the utopian popular vision of young adults. Between disillusions and passing time, the band also shows that the human condition doesn’t stand up to loneliness.

6) “Tous les cris les SOS” by Balavoine

Through the symbolism of a bottle thrown into the sea which returns constantly, Daniel Balavoine evokes the suffering caused by loneliness. This song is the real call for help.

5) “La Javanaise” by Serge Gainsbourg

It is the day after a summer evening when the singer Juliette Gréco and Serge Gainsbourg created this song. After spending time listening to the music and drinking champagne, Serge went home and wrote Javanase.

4) “Là-bas” by Jean Jacques Goldman

Here, Jean Jacques Goldman speaks about a vital renewal. Faced with his need for escape, Sirima – the artist – embodies the idea of stability by begging a man to stay with her.

3) “Mistral gagnant” by Renaud

This song was written for the singer’s daughter – Lolita. Renaud recounts his memories and his sweet childhood. “Mistral winner” is the name of an old candy shop which disappeared long time ago. If the artist thought this nostalgic ballad was too personal for his album cover, it was not for his wife who told him “If you do not put this song on your next album, I will leave you …”.

2) “Hymne à l’amour” by Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf wrote this song for the man she loved. It was during her tour in New York in 1948 when the love was born. The idyllic romance ended in 1949 when Marcel Cerdan died in a plane crash. After this tragedy, Edith Piaf wrote a song which quickly became one of her biggest hits: the hymn to love.

1) “Ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel

Topping the list, a revolutionary love song about France during a time at which men weren’t allowed to cry for women who didn’t want them anymore. Confronted with this man who put out such masculin sensitivity for the very first time, many people revolted against it. Notably, Edith Piaf, who considered the song parallel to a complete lack of virility. In any case, it remains the artist’s best selling track.

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