Want to add some songs in French to your daily playlist? This post will give you all the most famous French songs that will make you feel like you’re in France!
Sipping on fine champagne and gorging on specialty French cheese. Roaming the streets of Paris with a loved one.
Touring the beautiful Mont-Saint Michel and learning about its history as the tides come and go.
Swimming into the Sea on a boat in Marseilles. There’s beauty in every French experience, and that includes the famous French songs that immortalize these adventures for those who’ve been and loved France and even those longing to tour it one day!
Among several other things, being a country of historical significance across the globe, one of the leading nations in the fashion and couture industry, home to iconic cities like Paris, Nice, Marseille, and more, France is also known for its music!
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Songs from France are a part of people’s lives worldwide because they are tunes of love, pain, passion, and memories, sung by some of the most esteemed artists!
So what’s the wait? Keep reading to find out the best French music that’ll transport you amidst the serenity and beauty of France, and you’ll be compelled to add them all to your daily playlist!
And to make sure that you easily find them, I’ve included a link to Youtube for each famous French song so that you’re able to listen to or watch them for free.
17 Most Famous French Songs
From songs about Paris and other cities to French songs about love, pain, and life, this list includes all kinds of genres. From pop, classic, jazz, to folk, these popular French songs are sure to teleport you to France.
1. La vie en rose By Edith Piaf
Released: 1947 | Genre: Traditional Pop
When one thinks of French love songs, there’s no way that la vie en rose doesn’t come up!
The quintessential song that plays in every Parisian dream sequence has become associated with the nation.
Written in 1945, after a time of so much turmoil, it holds an important place in the hearts of all French people, particularly those who witnessed the damage of the second world war.
One of the classic French songs, known and loved globally, even by those who don’t speak the language, it is truly a heart-wrenching ballad about love and pain.
After its release, Edith Piaf came to be known as one of the best French artists, and the song continues to get more fame with musicians like Lady Gaga, Madonna, and more releasing their versions.
2. Ne me quitte pas by Jacques Brel
Released: 1959 | Genre: Indie Rock or Indie Pop
Sung by Belgian singer Jacques Brel, Ne me quitte pas is considered one of the best French classic songs and was written as a “hymn to the cowardice of men” but is often perceived as a love song.
The artist wrote the song at a time of romantic distress and hoped to convey the idea that men were cowards for doing anything and everything to please their women.
The song has a very regal, opera-like feel and will make you feel like you’re in old-time France, consumed by luxurious nights at the opera and mornings spent by the river, reading the newspaper under the sun.
3. Non, je ne regrette rien By Edith Piaf
Released: 1959 | Genre: Pop
One of the most famous songs in French, Non, Je ne regrette rien, which translates to “I don’t regret anything”, quickly became one of Piaf’s most well-known hits after its release.
The song talks about the idea of living an entire life, how some things work out and others may not, so it’s best to learn to love easy and let go easy.
After having lived a tough life, losing her daughter and husband, and having a history of alcohol abuse, Piaf wrote this song in the years close to her demise at 47.
A dramatic ballad, it’ll consume you, make you feel both love and pain, all conveyed with perfection.
The song shot to fame in its time and has remained in the hearts of many, constantly being attached to newer memories and ideas. It was also used as the primary song in Inception; a movie by Christopher Nolan, released in 2010.
4. Tous les garçons et les filles By Francoise Hardy
Released: 1962 | Genre: Folk/Pop
One of Hardy’s most popular tunes, Tous les garçons et les filles isn’t a typical 80s French love song but is an integral part of French famous music today.
Instead of being a ballad about falling in love, it translates to “all the boys and girls” and is about the idea of a girl who has never indeed been in love and, while witnessing all those in a relationship, envies the feeling of love.
Hardy first performed the record as part of a musical break while the results of the 1962 election referendum and after that quickly became synonymous within single people who dreamt of epic love or simply appreciated a well-composed catchy song!
5. La Bohème By Charles Aznavour
Released: 1966 | Genre: Chanson
Featured on top of the best of French songs for decades after its release, it’s a classic like no other.
The song immortalizes the French artist’s experience, but instead of it being a rose-colored glasses look on life, it talks about the harsh realities of making it a successful artisan in a country full of art, culture, and love.
It chooses not to romanticize the starving, the struggle, and the hardships that an artist is bound to encounter while trying to make a living as an artist. It is derived from Aznavour’s story as a struggling artist back in his twenties in Montmarte.
A dramatic, epic ballad regarded as one of the most popular songs in French, you must give it a listen!
6. Comme D’Habitude By Claude Francois
Released: 1967 | Genre: Pop/Rock
Known famously as the origin of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, this François song is undoubtedly one of the many French famous songs that are a part of French and global culture even today.
Co-written by Jacques Revaux, it means “as usual” and elaborates upon how getting stuck into a routine and the same way of life can somehow lead you to fall out of love with it.
It’s a gut-wrenching tune with extremely well-thought-out lyrics that are sure to make you think and feel about the life you live, the people you love, and the magic of it all.
7. Le Sud By Nino Ferrer
Released: 1975 | Genre: Pop
Often named one of the good songs in French, Le Sud is one of Ferrer’s biggest hits.
Referring to the “South,” it is a beautiful melody that makes you feel like you’re running through the beautiful valleys of the South of France, catching up with old friends by the Sea, and having a summer like no other.
The song is about Ferrer’s childhood in the South (France and the US) and memorializes his life.
Though he began his career as a “comic singer,” he soon came into his own with finding his musical voice and freely expressing his artistic side.
It’s a beautiful song that’s sure to etch memories that you make while listening to it in your head for a long time to come.
8. Alexandrie Alexandra By Claude François
Released: 1977 | Genre: Disco
An ode to the city of Alexandria set on the banks of the Nile River, this song was released during the disco era and certainly fit the vibe of the time.
One of the most fun, hype, and exciting French pop songs, it’s sure to make you feel groovy.
Besides being dedicated to the gorgeous town, it is also a song about falling in love and girls.
Unfortunately, the song was released at Claude François’s funeral after his untimely demise due to an accident.
The music still lives on as a classic retro number to dance to in French clubs and discos and doesn’t fail to get everyone to shake a leg!
9. Les lacs du Connemara By Michel Sardou
Released: 1981 | Genre: Pop
One of Sardou’s biggest hits, les lacs du Connemara, is also one of the best songs in French.
The lyrics and composition combine beautifully to create a tune that isn’t just pleasant to listen to but has an extremely message behind it.
It was written in the Irish conflict, during the battle between the protestants and Catholics, and Connemara which is, in fact, a region in Ireland.
The ballad is featured in many popular French music playlists, even though it isn’t about France, but because of its impressive symphony.
What’s even surprising is that Michel Sardou hadn’t visited the region of Connemara until after the song’s release!
10. L’aventurier By Indochine
Released: 1982 | Genre: Class Rock
A rocking number that is often featured in the best France music even decades after its release, L’aventurier is a perfect upbeat song to hype you up.
Loved by the French and even those who don’t understand it, it’s a dramatic song with lyrics that talk about a fictional character, Bob Marine, as the song is a tribute to a book series named after the character.
This fictional persona is an action hero who fights through World War II, has a black belt in karate, and could be thought of as a French James Bond.
11. Femme Libérée By Cookie Dingler
Released: 1984 | Genre: Pop
A karaoke hit even today, Cookie Dingler honors and celebrates women’s liberation in this catchy tune.
It is a hit among the French and tourists alike as it’s easy to sing along to, even for those learning the language.
It paints a picture of the quintessential France day spent with girlfriends, long drives through the majestic valleys, sipping on chilled white wine under the stars on a summer night, shopping on the streets of Paris, and so much more.
Believed to be one of the best songs in French, Femme Libérée is a class modern bop that you’re sure to love!
12. Joe le Taxi By Vanessa Paradis
Released: 1987 | Genre: Smooth jazz, Contemporary R&B
An international hit by Vanessa Paradis, who was barely fourteen years old at its release, Joe le Taxi is easily one the best French songs of all time.
The song is about Maria José Leão dos Santos, whose alias is Joe, and talks about how they fled their home country of Portugal while it was under a strict authoritarian regime and migrated to the beautiful land of France to become a taxi driver.
A jazz and blues ballad that gets you moving, it became and remained an integral part of Paradis’ legacy as a musician.
13. Les Champs-Elysées By Joe Dassin
Released: 1992 | Genre: Pop/Rock
Written as an ode to the iconic and unforgettable Champs-Élyées, this tune by Joe Dassin is the perfect jazz song for this list.
The street symbolizes Paris’ extreme luxury and beauty and lies in the city’s center with shops, restaurants, and cafés along its way, the famous Arc de Triomphe on one end, and several other historical monuments on the other.
One of the most popular French songs, it will make you feel like the main character of a romcom, strolling and browsing through the stores on the street, stopping by for a quick latte, and absorbing every moment, more picturesque than the first, that Paris has to offer.
It’s a catchy tune, so you might find yourself humming along to it throughout your time in Paris.
And if Karaoke is your gem, it’s an excellent pick for a karaoke night!
14. Foule sentimentale By Alain Souchon
Released: 1993 | Genre: Pop
Unlike other famous French songs, Foule Sentimentale is a song by Souchon that criticizes the consumer-led capitalistic society that the world has evolved to become.
It depicts the message that the world has reached the point where it believes that “a full closet is a key to ultimate happiness,” and people have become materialistic and money-minded.
The song cites moguls like Claudia Schiffer and Paul-Loup Sulitzer to highlight how this way of thinking was harmful to society.
15. Pour que tu m’aimes encore By Céline Dion
Released: 1995 | Genre: Pop
Written and sung beautifully by the French-Canadian singer and global icon, Céline Dion, pout Que tu m’aimes encore, translates to “for that, you like me again.”
It shot to fame immediately after its release, becoming one of the most famous French songs after being number one on the country-wide charts for twelve consecutive weeks.
A song about women, passionate love, and its charm, it’s been loved ever since its release across the globe.
16. Elle me dit By Mika
Released: 2011 | Genre: Electro Pop
A peppy, upbeat song that rapidly became synonymous with the French experience, Elle me dit is the new-age dance number!
Featured in the movie, The Origin of Love, it was written and sung by X-Factor Italy judge; Mika, a Lebanese-British singer-songwriter who shot to fame because of his music that livened up any party.
The song was also translated by the singer in English under the name Emily. The translation for the first verse goes like this; “she tells me to write a happy song, not a depressing song, one that everybody loves”, and it’s certainly true to its lyrics!
17. Cendrillon By Telephone
Released: 2017 | Genre: Pop
There’s nothing quite like a spin-off of a famous fairytale, and with Cendrillon, the band Telephone did precisely that and gave birth to one of the most famous French songs.
Instead of the famed ending of Cinderella wherein the prince finds his mystery girl with the glass slipper, they are free of the shackles of Ella’s step-mother and go on to live happily-ever-after, the song talks about an alternate ending; a marriage was going awry, a single-mother being burdened to take care of her children by herself, and falling into the trap of prostitution to make money.
While this is certainly not the most optimistic tune, it is one of the famous songs in French that elaborates upon the realities of life and how a woman’s goals and aspirations evolve as life goes on.
France has so much to offer, and while there’s nothing quite like living or touring the beautiful seaside towns and iconic cities of the country, these famous French songs and many others do justice to the beauties and realities of the French experience.
Even if you don’t know the French language through and through, these songs are indeed a language of their own.
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