Seeking to set the mood this Valentine’s Day? Look no further! To say the French are known romantics is an understatement. There is no end to the number of songs in this world about love, and the French have their fair share. It would be hard to list for you "the best" French love songs, but here are some classics, both old and new, for all to enjoy no matter your relationship status on Facebook.
Hymne à l'amour
I'd be remiss if I didn't include Edith Piaf in this list! And I'll go full-on French cliché and include her beautiful Hymne à l'amour. “Le ciel bleu sur nous peut s'effondrer/Et la terre peut bien s'écrouler/Peu m'importe si tu m'aimes.” Dramatic? Yes. Romance like no other? Definitely!
Ne me quitte pas
Next up is the man who has been called a master of the modern chanson, Jacques Brel. I chose his song, Ne me quitte pas, not only for the words but also for the way he sings them. There is a desperation in his voice, a longing. Maybe save this one for a Valentine's Day where you wouldn't mind indulging in your melancholic side!
If a light, poppy tune is more your speed this holiday, I invite you to listen to Ça ira by Joyce Jonathan. This song first came out in 2013 and peaked at number 16 on France's music charts. Jonathan, who used to date former French President François Hollande's son, got her start posting songs to everyone's favorite precursor to Facebook, MySpace. After a few listens to this catchy tune you'll be singing along in no time!
Pour que tu m'aimes encore
Céline Dion may be known here in the US for the love song that made Titanic the romantic titan that it is, but this list has her singing en français. If you like your love songs with un accent québécois, take a listen to Céline's Pour que tu m'aimes encore.
Un homme et une femme
If a soundtrack is what you are seeking, look no further than the New Wave classic Un homme et une femme. I admit that this one has sentimental value for me; plus it was nominated for several Golden Globes! If you need something to listen to while you prepare a homemade, candlelit dinner, then let this soundtrack serenade your chéri(e). Maybe you have heard of the title song and its onamonapia Chabadabada/Da-ba-da-ba-da (or even the expression that comes from this song!) Some of my favorites from this album include said title song, Samba Saravah, and L'amour est plus fort que nous.
My last choice is not quite current...but hear me out! Last October I had the pleasure of attending a concert by the Blue Heron vocal ensemble, who specialize in Renaissance music. Not exactly my normal cup of tea but I’m glad I was open to it! Not only was the presentation beautiful, but I realized how much the lyrical choices of yesteryear are powerfully romantic, even hundreds of years later. Here are a few lines of text from Johannes Ockeghem's S'elle m'amera: "If she will love me I know not, but I shall make an attempt to gain, in some small measure, her favor." Swoon!
S’elle m’amera je ne scay,
Mais je me mectray en essay
D’acquerir quelque peu sa grace.
Force m’est que pars la je passe,
Ceste fois j’en feray l’essay.
L’autre jour tant je m’avençay
Que presque tout mon cuer lessay
Aller sans que luy demandasse.
If she will love me I know not,
but I shall make an attempt
to gain, in some small measure, her favor.
I am forced to go that route:
this time I shall attempt it.
The other day I advanced so far
that I almost let my whole heart
go, without asking anything of her in return.
*Translation by Scott Metcalfe.
What's your favorite French love song?
From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and the language and culture entranced her through her student years. She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities, quality programming, and a community through French!See All Natalie's Posts