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14 Famous French Poems That Will Mesmerize You

Want to dive deep into French poetry on different subjects? This post will give you the 14 most famous French poems you’ll enjoy reading!

With a language as beautiful as French, it’s hard to not fall in love with all that it offers! From French songs, series, and French movies, to Poems which are one of the most loved parts of the language, there are so many aspects that make this language beautiful!

There are countless French poems that talk about love, grief, passion, and despair, and have so many beautiful lessons woven between their lines.

Statue of Victor Hugo
Statue of Victor Hugo

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While they’re many, in this article, I’ll focus on just the 14 most famous French poems that are sure to steal your heart!

Keep reading to find out more about French poetry, the poets behind these beautiful odes and the impact these pieces of literature had on the artists and the people reading them!

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Famous French Poems

Whether you’re trying to learn French, want to recite a French poem to someone to truly bring out the feelings you might not have words for, or just want to appreciate the art and beauty brought forth by the French poets, these poems in French will do the trick for you.

1. Demain, dès l’aube By Victor Hugo

One of the most loved poems in French is the classic Demain, dès l’aube, by Victor Hugo.

Written by one of the most popular French poets, it was released for the first time in 1856 as part of Hugo’s poem collection, Les Contemplations.

The title translates to “Tomorrow, at dawn” and the poem, set in the quaint town of Normandy, is a recount of the time Hugo visited his daughter’s, (Léopoldine Hugo) grave.

His daughter had passed away a couple of years before the poem because of a drowning accident. To date, it’s still one of the most famous Victor Hugo poems.

You can read the complete Poem here!

Portrait of Victor Hugo- French poet
Portrait of Victor Hugo- French poet

2. Les Roses de Saadi By Marceline Desbordes – Valmore

Published in 1860 is this beautiful poem titled “The Roses of Saadi”. Marceline Desbordes – Valmore was known for her impressive talent to convey feelings of melancholy, despair, and lost love with ease.

While the poem leaves a lot of its meaning up to the interpretation and perspective of the reader, it talks about bringing roses to a lover, and how the events unravel.

Marceline Desbordes – Valmore was one of the most popular poets of the French Romantic period and produced several works of art that have become a part of her legacy and the evolution of poetry in French.

You can read the complete Poem here!

3. Le pont Mirabeau By Guillaume Apollinaire

If you’re looking for one of the most famous French poems, Le Pont Mirabeau by Guillaume Apollinaire is the one for you!

It was first released in 1912, then re-published in 1913 as part of the poet’s collection titled “Alcools”, which means alcohol.

The poem follows the story of a passionate love that likely took place under the Mirabeau bridge by the gorgeous Seine River and is believed to be inspired by the relationship the poet shared with artist Marie Laurencin, whom he used to meet by crossing the bridge.

The poem is loved across the country and world, and in fact, its first verse has been memorialized on a plaque on the Mirabeau bridge in Paris!

You can read the complete Poem here!

Related post: Famous Poems about Paris

4. À une passante By Charles Baudelaire

Written by the infamous Charles Baudelaire, an icon of the modern literature movement in France, À une passante translates to “To a passerby”.

One of the best French poems, it elaborates upon the poet’s experience of being in awe of the beauty and poise of a woman he passed by on the street.

The theme of the poem is chance, and how every event that takes place in a person’s life has the possibility of changing the trajectory of where their life goes.

It evokes the emotions that one would feel when dwelling on a love that never had the chance to blossom and grow.

You can read the complete Poem here!

5. Le Dormeur du Val By Arthur Rimbaud

Published in 1888 is one of the most famous French poems of all time, Le Dormeur du Val, by Arthur Rimbaud.

Written by the poet back when he was just 18 years old, it is a tribute to the soldiers that inevitably lost their lives in war.

In particular, it focused on the France-Prussia war that was underway. It conveys the heart-wrenching grief and despair that’s felt because of the loss of a loved one and paints the picture of a dead soldier lying unconscious on the ground, juxtaposed with the nature that surrounds the soldier.

A poem that conveys every emotion so poignantly, it is regarded as one of Rimbaud’s best works.

You can read the complete Poem here!

6. Les Feuilles Mortes By Jacques Prévert

One of the most loved French poems with English translation is Les Feuilles Mortes by the renowned Jacques Prévert which translates to “The dead leaves”.

Written in 1946, it uses dead autumn leaves to symbolize the memories of the love that was lost and replicates the feelings of emptiness and nostalgia for the reader.

A literary masterpiece, it was also adapted as a song in the 1950s called “Autumn Leaves” and sung by greats like Édith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole.

The song was recorded over a thousand times by different artists and soon became a staple of jazz in the 50s.

The poet was known for his work on emotions and love, and Les Feuilles Mortes was truly an embodiment of that!

You can read the complete Poem here!

Related post: Famous French songs about Love

7. L’Eternité By Arthur Rimbaud

If you’re in search of one of the top short French poems, this moving ode by Arthur Rimbaud titled L’Eternité is exactly what you should read.

The poem appears to be fairly short, but its scant appearance is actually deceiving because it has a lot of depth to it.

It is regarded as one of the poet’s most stellar works as it takes the musicality usually associated with celebration and duplicates the style to fit the hypothetical and morbid feelings like hope, desire, war, etc.

The simplicity of the poem lets the reader decide what they make of the short but insightful prose.

You can read the complete Poem here!

Portrait of Charles Baudelaire - French Poet
Portrait of Charles Baudelaire – French Poet

8. L’Albatros By Charles Baudelaire

Published in 1861 as part of the second edition of Les Fleurs du mal, known famously as Baudelaire’s best collection, L’Albatros is one of the most well-known French poems written by the famous French writer, Charles Baudelaire.

The poet was inspired during a sea trip that he took with his stepfather in his twenties, and the poem draws a parallel between a poet and an albatross.

It talks about how the nature and behavior of the majestic bird change once it’s captured by the soldiers and alludes to the idea of even loved and celebrated poets being humbled by the people.

The sea trip played a huge role in a lot of the poet’s other work as well.

You can read the complete Poem here!

9. Liberté By Paul Eluard

Released in 1942 by the infamous Paul Eluard, one of the founders of the Surrealist movement in France is this poem titled Liberté, meaning Liberty!

It is an ode to the concept of liberty and how important it was at the time of the Second World War when Germany had occupied vital areas of France.

The idea of liberty originated in France during the French Revolution back in the 18th Century and Eluard wrote the prose to reiterate its importance.

The poem follows the poet along on his journey to multiple places where he writes a name, which in the last stanza is revealed to be liberty.

You can read the complete Poem here!

10. Le Lac By Alphonse de Lamartine

One of the most iconic French poems about love, even though bittersweet, was written by Alphonse de Lamartine, the first known French romantic poet, called Le Lac.

The title translates to “The Lake” and is an ode to a past love who was named Julie Charles, whom he met at the edge of Lake Bourget in Savoie, France.

The poet was in awe of Charles’ beauty and charm and had plans to meet her again the following year, but unfortunately, she fell ill and passed away, so he never saw her again.

He wrote the ​​elegy (a song of mourning) after he visited the lake by himself and recounted the wonderful memories they’d made together.

You can read the complete Poem here!

11. Roman de la Rose By Guillaume de Lorris & Jean de Meun

Published back in 1275, Roman de la Rose became one of the most widely read French poems, and later books, for centuries to come.

The poem was co-written by Lorris (who wrote about 4500 lines in 1230) and Meun (who added nearly 18000 more lines by 1275) and came to be celebrated as one of the longest and greatest love poems in French.

The poem follows the story of a dramatic love using names both as characters and symbols, for instance, “Rose” was both the protagonist and used as a motif of female sexuality.

You can read the complete Poem here!

12. Elle Était Déchaussée, Elle Était Décoiffée By Victor Hugo

Written by the famous Victor Hugo, the poem’s title translates to “she was bare, she was messed up”.

Elle Était Déchaussée, Elle Était Décoiffée depicts the instance of a little boy going for a walk by the stream and stumbling upon the sight of a gorgeous, irresistible, breathtaking woman who was sitting by the river stream and washing her feet.

It follows the boy’s amazement and his courage to ask the woman out for a walk.

A simple, romantic poem that uses brilliant imagery to make you feel as though you’re also sitting by the stream watching it all play out, it will surely make you feel warm and loved.

You can read the complete Poem here!

Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud- French Poet
Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud- French Poet

13. Le Bateau Ivre By Arthur Rimbaud

Another one of Arthur Rimbaud’s great works, Le Bateau Ivre, which translates to “The Drunken Boat”, was written by the renowned poet back when he was 16 years old.

The poem is about 100 lines long and is an account of a sailor out at the sea who witnesses all his companions get massacred.

It is clad with metaphors, symbolism, and imagery, and does a tremendous job at visualizing the scenery for the reader and, in turn, transferring emotions felt by the lone sailor to the audience with ease.

You can read the complete Poem here!

14.Triste, Triste By Jules Laforgue

Written by symbolist poet Jules Laforgue, Triste, Triste, is a sorrowful poem, with the title translating to “sad, sad”.

The poem follows many events, big or small, and depicts how sad and full of despair each life instance can be.

It elaborates upon the troubles of the world like war, grief, vices, melancholy, and sickness, and leaves you feeling pretty hopeless.

The poem was celebrated and criticized by the critics at the time of its release and certainly isn’t the poem you should go to if you’re looking to cheer yourself up.

You can read the complete Poem here!

Final Thoughts on the Best French Poems

The French language is truly one of the most romantic and attractive languages in the world and, coupled with well-written poems, it is truly a mix destined for success.

Whether you’re an amateur poet and are intrigued by French literature or are hoping to sweep your partner off their feet with an adorable poem, these 14 Famous French poems are sure to do the trick!

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