Quand la Musique est bonne


It’s amazing how music seems to be a sort of universal language, how it resonates with everyone. You find it everywhere, and even people with no inherent interest in it will still be able to tell you their favourite song.

My interest in French music was really more something that accompanied my early years of love for French culture. My good friend and then A-Level oral assistant was the one to introduce me to French songs. I believe I did have a cassette entitled Les hits des petits câlins (yes, even in those days were they using anglicisms as commonplace!), but other than that, I could not have sung much more than ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon or ‘Tête, épaules, genoux et pieds’.


It is funny. The French have the most fantastic day given over to the celebration of music which I am still in raptures over, and yet French music is widely criticized on this side of the Channel. The popular songs are claimed not to stand the test of time, and their international standing does not do much to recommend them. (Ask your average Englishman to name a French singer, and you will probably get Céline Dion or – if you’re lucky – Johnny Halliday). How ignorant we are.


I cannot claim that my taste in music is worth much at the best of times, but I have fallen for some of the more magical chansons in recent years – and they’re still on my music books…

The top ten (in no particular order):

‘Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai’ – Francis Cabrel
Jean-Jacques Goldman (presque toutes!)
‘À Paris’ – Francis Lemarque
‘Même pas fatigués’ – Khaled & Magic System
‘Alta Gracia’ – Jean-Louis Aubert
‘Les Champs Élysées’ – Joe Dassin
‘Je t’attends’ – Axelle Red
‘La marmaille’ – Lynda Lemay
‘Mademoiselle de Paris’ – Jacqueline François
‘Vois sur ton chemin’ – Les Choristes


Best musical moment during my time in France: Métro St Michel, May 2011. If you’re seeking Saturday night entertainment, this is the place to be. You’ll get everyone singing, dancing, and enjoying the joys of three charming guys that I was introduced to during my most recent visit back to the capital.

Can you recommend any others for my list?  I would love to hear your suggestions…

Image credits:
1. Image credit: musicstack.com
2. Sur le pont d’Avignon – Image credit: comptine.free.fr

About the Contributor

Chloe Battle

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  1. Elisabeth Donato Apr 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    Nice piece, Chloe. And I do love La Fête de la musique, but I found that evening extremely chaotic around Rue Mouffetard, where I was staying on that day last year (I will be there again this year.)
    – Old classics, I like some Piaf stuff. My favorite song by her is “Mon manège à moi.”)
    – I do like some Cabrel (I adore the song “Animal” from Sarbacane.)
    – My very favorite French singer/songwriter – and by far – is Bénabar. “Je suis de celles” is a pure masterpiece, but I can’t think a song of his that I do not like.
    – I like some stuff by Alain Souchon.
    – I adore a band named Les Ogres de Barback (“Con et blasé” is my favorite song by then.)
    – There is more, among the old classics like Gilbert Bécaud, Jean Ferrat, Barbara, etc. I should really take a glance at my iTunes list.

  2. Virginia Jones Apr 13, 2012 at 11:34 AM - Reply

    Well I have a list!
    La pluie sans parapluie
    Puisque vous partez en voyage
    Ne me quitte pas
    Hymne a l’amour
    Revien te chercher

    Just to name a few!

  3. Emmanuelle Tremolet Apr 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM - Reply

    Jean Jacques Goldman et Cabrel ont animé mon adolescence ! Ce sont deux chanteurs et compositeurs qui ont marqué ma génération, celle des 30 – 40 ans aujourd’hui ! Cela ne nous rajeunît pas. S
    i vous souhaitez découvrir des chansons françaises, je vous recommande le groupe “Nouvelle Vague” qui réinterprête magnifiquement des chansons françaises. Ils sont régulièrement en concert un peu partout dans le monde. Ils viennent régulièrement en Australie.

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