Children’s songs are usually easier than adults’ songs, right?
That’s why they make the best French songs for children. Make sure to read this post!
French songs for children
French children’s songs are some of the most popular and recognizable worldwide. From the famous “LouLou” to “La Cloche de Bois,” kids everywhere know these tunes.
Even if you don’t speak French, these children’s songs are easy to understand and sing along with. French song traditions date back centuries.
Many folks put on a recital or chanson for family and friends at Christmas as an expression of joy and festivity. Many old French songs have been adapted for modern audiences as well.
French children’s songs can be heard from every corner of France, but there are a few which are particularly ubiquitous across the country:
The Wooden Bell
The wooden bell is a very popular French song. It’s known by many other names, such as the “Clapper Bell,” the “Bell of the Martyr,” or the “Bell of the Excommunicated.”
What does the wooden bell have to do with ex-communication? For a long time, Catholic churches used bells to signal a service. Generally, the bells were tied to ropes to be lowered so people could climb up and ring them.
But bells were tied to wooden posts in some areas and rung by pulling ropes through them. The wooden bell is one of these old-fashioned bells.
The song tells us that the bell is tied to a rope dangling from a tree. It’s the rope tied to a branch, not the bell.
What’s remarkable is that the rope is still hanging on, even though bells were rung by pulling ropes through them until the late 20th century.
So how do French kids know this song? Well, as with many songs, there are a few different legends. Some say the song is about a boy who follows his brothers to a rope swing and discovers it’s a bell that rings when it’s swung.
Other folks say it comes from the custom of tying bells to trees to ward off evil spirits or that it’s a song about the bells of the Saints, the patron saint of France. Whatever the case, the song is widely known.
“LouLou” is a song that tells a story of a young girl who wants to run away with her childhood crush. However, her mother forbids her from seeing him, fearing he is bad for her.
One day, after her mother is asleep in bed, LouLou slips out the window and meets her crush, who tells her she can stay with him if she never returns to her mother. LouLou agrees, but they quickly run into some trouble.
They finally manage to escape, but they find they are lost. Luckily, they find a house in the woods where a man and woman live alone.
The couple is kind enough to let them stay in a secret escape hatch under their bed, but the next day, the man tells the couple about LouLou and her friend, who arrived that evening.
The couple tells LouLou and her friend that they’ll have to leave. However, when LouLou and her friend sneak back into the house, the couple catches them and locks them in the secret room.
As the couple leaves, LouLou and her friend can hear them laughing and talking about how naughty they are. Finally, the door is shut, and they are alone.
But the couple returns with a bag of candy, and they tell LouLou and her friend they can come out and play if they promise never to return.
LouLou promises, and the couple gives her the candy but tells her not to eat it. LouLou promises, and they leave, but LouLou and her friend do as they are told.
But when LouLou’s friend goes to leave, LouLou grabs the bag and eats all the candy, dropping dead right there.
The bird and the nut bundle
Here’s another French songs for children about a bird and a nut bundle. This one is about a poor man who goes out hunting for food for his family.
He catches a few birds and squirrels and returns their carcasses to the hut. He cleans the birds and squirrels, prepares them on a plate with some bread, and puts them in the doorway.
As he returns home, he sees a man and a woman walking toward the hut. The man has a bundle in his hand, and the woman carries a bird.
The man tells the woman and the boy that he plans to burn them, but the woman tells him that he can do whatever he wants to them, but she wants to marry the boy. The man agrees, and they take the boy inside and lock him in a room.
The drunk man tells the boy to give him a good reason to let him out of the room. The boy asks the man to untie his feet so he can climb out of the window.
The man does so, but then he tells the boy to forget about him. The boy promises and climbs into a tree, where he takes shelter from a rainstorm.
The knight on the bridge of Arras
This is one of the oldest kids French songs, dating back to the 12th century. According to legend, the knight on the bridge of Arras is a wandering minstrel who had his play written by two poets.
The play tells the story of a man who falls in love with a young woman who rejects him. He tells her he will hang himself if she doesn’t marry him, but she doesn’t believe him.
Eventually, he hangs himself, and she marries the man who saved her. The play is a favorite among French audiences, and the song tells the story of the minstrel who tells the tale of the knight.
The minstrel sings about how a man falls in love with a young woman who rejects him. He tells her he will hang himself, but she doesn’t believe him and marries him instead.
Return home (Home again)
This French children’s song tells of a family that moves from their home to another one. When they arrive, they find the house is small and not very special.
They decide to leave the new home and return to the one they left. The first time they go home, it is a long way away, so the children have to walk very slowly.
When they arrive home, they notice that the house has fallen and everything is destroyed. The children decide to return to the new home even though it isn’t very special.
Au claireton (To the clarinet)
This French song for children tells of a little boy trying to catch a fish. Each time he casts his line, he catches a different kind of fish, such as a pike, a carp, a perch, and a pike again.
The little boy wonders why the fish keep biting his line, but he can’t figure out what he’s doing wrong. The song ends with the boy catching a wild boar.
The song tells us that the little boy is singing to the clarinet, a wind instrument. The clarinet is a French instrument commonly played by school bands. To this day, most French children learn to play the clarinet.
Connaissez-vous le chateau de Dijon? (Can you know the chateau of Dijon?)
This song tells of two friends who want to go to Dijon, a city in the Burgundy region. One friend asks if his friend knows the chateau of Dijon, and his friend replies that he does.
However, when they try to get to Dijon, they find the cities too big or far away or the roads too narrow and dangerous. Eventually, the friends arrive at the port of Dijon, where they can find a boat that will take them across the water to the chateau.
The song tells us that the friends are singing to a ukulele, a Hawaiian guitar-like stringed instrument. The ukulele is a popular folk instrument in France.
These French children’s songs are just a few of the many that are heard throughout the country. The French love to sing, and the traditions in their music are just as diverse and rich as their culture.
These songs are just a few of the many that are heard throughout the country. The French love to sing, and the traditions in their music are.