For centuries, Paris has inspired artists; paintings, statues, books talking about the city and its monuments. And since the beginning of the last century, ways for artists to express their love for the City of Lights have grown even wider with the invention of cinema and the popularization of music. We made a list of the 25 best French and international songs about Paris, ordered by release dates.
J’Ai Deux Amour – Joséphine Baker (1930)
Ever since she settled down in Paris, in 1925, the American singer Joséphine Baker, has never stopped on singing her love for the French capital. J’Ai Deux Amour, also called “Mon Paris” or “Paris Mes Amours”, talks, in the early version, about the singer’s fascination for Paris to which was later added her love for her home country, the United States.
Paris Sera Toujours Paris – Maurice Chevalier (1939)
Sung by Maurice Chevalier, Paris Sera Toujours Paris was released in 1939, at the beginning of World War Two. On a cheerful tune, the singer tells us that nothing will ever damage the beauty of Paris, not even German restrictions, curfews, sirens and gas masks.
Retour A Paris / Revoir Paris – Charles Trenet (1947)
Charles Trenet has sung more than a thousand songs in his life and several of them were about Paris. Retour A Paris also known as Revoir Paris is about the happiness the singer feels when coming back to Paris. “Les larmes aux yeux, le coeur content” (with tears in my eyes and a happy heart) even if Paris isn’t his home city, Charles Trenet calls it his “true mother”.
Sous Le Ciel De Paris – Edith Piaf (1949)
Edith Piaf, the famous 50s French singer has sung many times about the City of Lights. In this song, she takes us in a tour around the capital and lists several of its most famous monuments.
I Love Paris – Ella Fitzgerald (1956)
I Love Paris has been sung by many famous French and international singers such as Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier, in the movie “Can-Can”, Etta Jones, Vanessa Paradis and even Lana Del Rey during her concert in Paris, in 2013. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first to sing the song written by Cole Porter in 1953. In this song, she talks about her unconditional love for Paris.
April In Paris – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Amstrong (1956)
Second entry for Ella Fitzgerald with this very jazzy song first sang in 1934 by Freddie Martin. The voices of these two icons of American music give a new interpretation to April In Paris, a song talking about a nostalgic spring spent in the capital.
Bonjour Paris – Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire & Kay Thompson (1957)
From the original soundtrack of the American movie “Funny Face”, Bonjour Paris is sung by the three main characters when they arrive in Paris. Catchy and cheerful, this tune is sung by the characters as they dance and wander in the streets of the city. As Kay Thompson’s character, Maggie, sings, she feels “très gay, très chic, très magnifique” (very happy, very chic, very beautiful).
Paris Loves Lovers – Fred Astaire (1957)
A second entry for Fred Astaire as well, who not only sings his love for Paris in front of the camera but off-stage as well with Paris Loves Lovers. The American singer describes the City of Love just as we love to see it: like a place perfect for a new love to flourish.
Le Poinçonneur des Lilas – Serge Gainsbourg (1958)
In this song, Serge Gainsbourg describes the life of a “poinçonneur” in the Parisian metro station “Les Lilas”. A “poinçonneur” was an employee that used to punch metro tickets, back in the beginning of 1900s. Tired of his job in the undergrounds where “on le croise, mais on le regarde pas” (people walk past him, but don’t look at him), he dreams of a more peaceful life under the sun.
La Bohème – Charles Aznavour (1965)
La Bohème was originally written for the operetta “Monsieur Carnaval”. The song tells us the life of a painter remembering his youth spent in Montmartre with nostalgia.
Il Est Cinq Heures Paris S’Eveille – Jacques Dutronc (1968)
Jacques Dutronc is a very famous French singer. This song feels like a birdsong in the morning and talks about the difference between Paris by night, with stripteasers, transvestites and lovers, and Paris by day, with workers, bakers and commuters.
Les Champs-Elysées – Joe Dassin (1969)
This Joe Dassin classic will rapidly get stuck in your head. Probably one of the most famous French song about Paris, Les Champs-Elysées had to be in this top. With a lively tune, Joe Dassin sings an ode to the most beautiful avenue in Paris: les Champs-Elysées where “il y a tout ce que vous voulez” (there is all you want).
Paris Le Flore – Etienne Daho (1986)
In his song, Etienne Daho decided to talk about one particular place in Paris. Le Flore is one of the most famous cafés in the capital with its retro facade and gorgeous terrace. This is where the artist sits to “lire des bouquins” (read some books) while listening to Paris’ hubbub.
Paris Sous Les Bombes – Suprême NTM (1995)
Also called “Paris Passe Le Oinj”, this song was written and sung by the French rappers Suprême NTM; JoeyStarr and Kool Shen. Well-known for their songs about the life in Paris’ suburbs, in Paris Sous Les Bombes, the “bombs” are spray paints used by the protagonists to tag Paris’ streets.
Place Pigalle – Elliott Smith (2006)
Place Pigalle was a demo written by American singer and released in 2006, three years after his death. This song was written by Elliott Smith as he was spending a few months in Paris and joined the long list of demos released post-mortem.
J’Aime Plus Paris – Thomas Dutronc (2007)
Like father, like son and, after Jacques Dutronc, it’s his son Thomas’ turn to sing about Paris. In his song, he describes a sinister, sad and stressing Paris before saying that he still loves the city: “Pourtant Paris c’est toute ma vie, c’est la plus belle.” (even so, Paris is my whole life, it’s the most beautiful town).
1901 – Phoenix (2009)
Phoenix is a French pop group coming from Versailles. Their song 1901 reached the American and Canadian top charts and talks about Paris during the “Belle Epoque”. The song was later sung a second time by the British singer Birdy.
Little French Song – Carla Bruni (2011)
With a song sang half in French and half in English, the former French first lady and Italian singer Carla Bruni “nous emmène de Paris à Pigalle ou à l’Ile Saint-Louis” (take us from Paris to Pigalle or to the Ile Saint-Louis). A song about France, its capital and many wonders to sing “quand tout va mal” (when life goes wrong).
La Seine – Vanessa Paradi & M (2011)
La Seine is a song from the original soundtrack of the French animation movie “Un Monstre A Paris” which tells a modern version of the “Phantom of the Opera”. In this song, the two main characters, Francoeur and Lucille sing an ode to the Seine and its city, Paris.
In Paris – Jay-Z & Kanye West (2011)
In Paris -also called “Niggas In Paris”- is a song with a full blue, white and red jacket, recorded when Jay-Z and Kanye West were staying in a luxurious hotel of the capital. In this song, the two American rappers tells the Parisian success stories of African-Americans such as Nina Simone or Josephine Baker.
Paris – Lana Del Rey (2012)
Paris is a song of the American singer Lana Del Rey recorded for the album Born To Die, but that was never released; in the end, it leaked in 2012. The singer sings about her ideal rendezvous in Paris and her wish to visit Yves Saint-Laurent, the Sacré-Coeur, the Eiffel Tower and more.
Paris – Little Dragon (2012)
Let’s visit new countries with Paris, a title sung by the Swedish group Little Dragon. This song is one of the saddest in this list where the singer talks about a rendezvous she planned, in the City of Lights, with a friend which is now deceased.
Paname – Slimane (2016)
Paname is a name given, in French, to Paris and its suburbs. In his song, Slimane talks about his arrival in the capital with his dreams and backpack as his only luggage. We find, in the text, the idea of a “city of love” with the world(word?) being repeated several times in the song.
Paname – Booba (2017)
A second Paname, the Paname of Booba, a famous French rapper. The singer talks about his youth and childhood as well as his difficult relation with Paris which, he feels, hates him. Paris represents, here, the Parisians that see him as a “stranger” or doubt the reasons of his success.
Bienvenue Chez Moi – Bigflo & Oli (2018)
In their song, Biflo & Oli sing about several French cities: one verse for every city. Rouen, Bordeau, Toulouse and, of course, Paris. They describe Paris as a city “pressante et oppressante […] stressante et cruelle” (rushing and opressful […] stressful and cruel), but still beautiful.
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