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10 French Lullabies Your Baby Will Love (Lyrics & Translation)

10 French Lullabies Your Baby Will Love (Lyrics & Translation)

French lullabies are a fun and wholesome way for babies and tired parents to discover the language and culture of France together.

We’ve picked out 10 of the most beautiful French lullabies — plus belles berceuse Française — adored by parents and children across France. Catchy, joyous songs to help ease children (and parents) into a blissful slumber full of French dreams.

We’ve included the lyrics in English and French. If the stars are aligned, one version might even help your little one to sleep.

1. Au clair de la lune (By the moonlight)

This video from some colorful rabbits, Pinpin and Lili, layers on a karaoke effect to help nail the timing of this lengthy French lullaby.

“Au clair de la lune” is one is the most beloved French lullabies. The melody is super-catchy and the rhyme tells an engaging short story.

Starting out as a folk song in 1843, successive generations of parents have ensured this classic French lullaby remains a firm favorite. Classical composers have featured the tune in their work, while France Gall (famed chanteuse and Eurovision song winner) had a pop hit with it in 1964.

Fair warning, this chanson enfantine (nursery rhyme) is wordier than many French lullabies. Ideal for developing your French-speaking (and singing) skills.

Au clair de la lune,
Mon ami Pierrot,
Prête-moi ta plume
Pour écrire un mot.
Ma chandelle est morte,
Je n'ai plus de feu.
Ouvre-moi ta porte
Pour l'amour de Dieu.

Au clair de la lune,
Pierrot répondit :
"Je n'ai pas de plume,
Je suis dans mon lit.
Va chez la voisine,
Je crois qu'elle y est,
Car dans sa cuisine
On bat le briquet."

Au clair de la lune,
L'aimable Lubin;
Frappe chez la brune,
Elle répond soudain :
–Qui frappe de la sorte?
Il dit à son tour :
–Ouvrez votre porte,
Pour le Dieu d'Amour.

Au clair de la lune,
On n'y voit qu'un peu.
On chercha la plume,
On chercha du feu.
En cherchant d'la sorte,
Je n'sais c'qu'on trouva;
Mais je sais qu'la porte
Sur eux se ferma.
By the light of the moon,
My friend Pierrot,
Lend me your quill
To write a word.
My candle is dead,
I have no light left.
Open your door for me
For the love of God."

By the light of the moon,
Pierrot replied:
"I don't have any quill,
I am in my bed
Go to the neighbor's,
I think she's there
Because in her kitchen
Someone is lighting the fire."

By the light of the moon
Likable Lubin
Knocks on the brunette's door.
She suddenly responds:
– Who's knocking like that?
He then replies:
– Open your door
for the God of Love!

By the light of the moon
One could barely see.
The pen was looked for,
The light was looked for.
With all that looking
I don't know what was found,
But I do know that the door
Shut itself on them.

2. Jean Petit qui danse (Jean Petit is dancing)

There is a dance routine that goes with the song. It is optional and ill-advised at bedtime, but you can check out the moves in this video.

This musical comptine (nursery rhyme) is one of the catchiest French lullabies and is often heard at events for children.

The lyrics are ideal for early learning as it introduces prominent body parts. Which sounds perfectly wholesome. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

If you really want to know…. Jean Petit was a real-life rebel, tortured on a horrific medieval device, the wheel. Which explains why his body parts are no longer attached to his body.

It may have been a suitable bedtime story in less innocent times, but now parents and infants simply love the (inappropriately) cheerful lyrics.

Satisfyingly structured around repetitive verses, just add a new line for different body parts to keep going. A mini-French lesson for children wrapped up in a cherished French lullaby.  

Jean petit qui danse
Jean petit qui danse

De son doigt il danse
De son doigt il danse
De son doigt doigt doigt
Ainsi danse Jean Petit.

Jean petit qui danse
Jean petit qui danse
De sa main il danse
De sa main il danse
De sa main main main
De son doigt doigt doigt
Ainsi danse Jean Petit.

Jean petit qui danse
Jean petit qui danse
De son bras il danse
De son bras il danse
De son bras bras bras
De sa main main main
De son doigt doigt doigt
Ainsi danse Jean Petit
.

(for further verses just add body parts, like pied, tête, jambe, and corps)

Jean Petit dancing
Jean Petit dancing
With his finger he dances
With his finger he dances
With his finger, finger, finger
That’s how Jean Petit dances.

Jean Petit dancing
Jean Petit dancing
With his hand he dances
With his hand he dances
With his hand hand hand
With his finger finger finger
That’s how Jean Petit dances.

Jean Petit dancing
Jean Petit dancing
With his arm he dances
With his arm he dances

With his arm arm arm
With his hand hand hand
With his finger finger finger
That’s how Jean Petit dances.

(for further verses just add body parts, like foot, head, leg, and body)

3. Frère Jacques (Brother Jacques)

Many versions of this celebrated French lullaby exist, but this oldie is a suitably gentle rendition for lulling your baby to sleep.

If any French lullaby could be considered an international smash hit, it is “Frère Jacques”. An endearing little rhyme about a dozy monk taking a duvet day when he should have been ringing the monastery bells.

It is the memorable melody that propelled this French classic to global stardom. It fits many languages.

Short and sweet, your baby won’t pick up too many new French words. But it works wells as an early introduction to French words and pronunciation. Hopefully, babies with an emerging pedantic streak won’t notice that this most famous of French lullabies is actually a song about waking up.

There is an English language version that transforms Brother Jacques (James or Jacob in French) into "Brother John". But as you're here to discover French lullabies, we’ll stick with the original and a (more or less) direct translation.

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!

Din, don, din. Din, don, din.

Brother Jacques, Brother Jacques,

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?

Sound [the bells for] matins! Ring [the bells for] matins!

Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

4. Ah! Les Crocodiles

This French lullaby is not easy to master. This video will help twist your tongue around the playful lyrics.

Our next choice is one of the more peculiar French lullabies. “Ah Les Crocodiles,” tells the tale of Nile crocodiles heading off to fight elephants and then simply disappearing.

Don’t mess with elephants might be the moral of the story, but kids will love the playful words. Crocodile is an endlessly amusing word for children, in English or French. But you won’t be able to say crocrocro over and over again without getting an even more gleeful reaction.

A fun song with a silly heart. Entertaining for kids, with a touch of absurdist French humor for everyone to enjoy.

Un crocodile s'en allant à la guerre
Disait au revoir à ses petits enfants
Traînant ses pieds, ses pieds dans la poussière
Il s'en allait combattre les éléphants

Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus
Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus

Il fredonnait une marche militaire
Dont il mâchait les mots à grosses dents
Quand il ouvrait la gueule tout entière
On croyait voir ses ennemis dedans

Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus
Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus

Un éléphant parut et sur la terre
Se prépara ce combat de géants
Mais près de là coulait une rivière
Le crocodile s'y jeta subitement

Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus
Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus

Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus
Ah les crocrocros, les crocrocros, les crocodiles
Sur les bords du Nil, ils sont partis n'en parlons plus

A crocodile, going off to war
Said goodbye to his little children
Dragging his feet, his feet in the dust
He went off to fight the elephants

Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word
Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocrodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word

He hummed a military march
To which he mashed the words with his big teeth
When he opened his chops all the way
You’d think you could see his enemies inside

Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word
Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocrodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word

Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word
Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocrodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word

An elephant appeared and on the earth
He prepared for this huge fight
But close at hand, there flowed a river
The crocodile suddenly jumped in it

Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word
Ah! The crocrocro, the crocrocro, the crocrodiles
On the banks of the Nile, they left, not another word

5. Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère (Sleep, Colas my little brother)

Less melodic than other French lullabies, this is not the easiest rhyme to learn. This version from the singing rabbits, Pinpin et Lili, makes it easy to follow.

As night falls across France, parents of restless children can be heard repeating the phrase ‘fais dodo´, sometimes in a rising crescendo of exasperation. Meanwhile, new parents are serenely singing the words instead.

This song is several centuries old, but the refrain, ‘go to sleep’ (fais dodo), was always destined to be the opening line of a French lullaby. In fact, the informal word ‘dodo’ appears in several treasured French lullabies.  

Although commonly known as “Fais Dodo”, the full title is: “Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère”. ‘Colas’ is most likely short for Nicholas. Other versions change this name and other names, sometimes other parts of the lyrics too (such as the foods).

Personalize and make this French lullaby yours while teaching budding Francophiles one of the most frequently uttered phrases in family homes across France.

Au clair de la lune,Mon ami Pierrot,
Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

Maman est en haut
Qui fait du gâteau
Papa est en bas
Qui fait du chocolat

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

Ta sœur est en haut
Qui fait des chapeaux
Ton frère est en bas
Qui fait des nougats

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

Ton cousin Gaston
Fait des gros bonbons

Ta cousine Charlotte
Fait de la compote

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère
Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo

By the light of the moon,
Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

Mommy is above
She makes cake
Papa is below
He makes chocolate

Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

Your sister is above
She makes hats
Your brother is below
He makes Nougat

Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

Your cousin Gaston
Makes big pieces of candy

Your cousin Charlotte
Makes the compote

Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

Go to sleep, Nicolas my little brother
Go to sleep, you'll get some milk

6. Une petite poule grise (A little gray hen)

“Une petite poule grise” is a French lullaby with a repetitive rhyme that helps children learn French colors. Petite poule is also an affectionate nickname for children in France.

Less well-known than other French lullabies on this list, the melody sounds like the work of a medieval traveling troupe. But the simple lyrics are ideal for exhausted parents operating on auto-pilot. Just keep singing the verses on a loop and swapping the colors until the baby is sound asleep. 

L‘etait une petite poule noire
Qui allait pondre dans l'armoire
Pondait un petit coco
Que l'enfant mangeait tout chaud

Il’ etait une petite poule blanche
Qui allait pondre dans la grange
Pondait un petit coco
Que l'enfant mangeait tout chaud

Il’ etait une petite poule rousse
Qui allait pondre dans la mousse
Pondait un petit coco
Que l'enfant mangeait tout chaud

Il’ etait une petite poule brune
Qui allait pondre dans la lune
Pondait un petit coco
Que l'enfant mangeait tout chaud

It was a little black hen
Who would lay in the cupboard
It lays a small egg
Which the child ate hot

It was a little white hen
Who would lay in the barn
It lays a small egg
Which the child ate hot

It was a little red hen
Who would lay in the moss
It lays a small egg
Which the child ate hot

It was a little brown hen
Who would lay on the moon
It lays a small egg
Which the child ate hot

7. Petit escargot

This gentle version is perfect for snail-loving children.

Kids love snails. French adults also, albeit for less wholesome reasons. This French lullaby celebrates the humble snail with a snappy, easy-to-learn rhyme.

The story radiates positivity, while the sweet lyrics are easy for toddlers and parents to pick up. A simple rhyme that quickly will set up residence in your head.

Petit escargot
Porte sur son dos
Sa maisonnette
Aussitôt qu’il pleut
Il est tout heureux
Il sort sa tête!

Little Snail
Carries on his back
His little house
As soon as it rains
He’s all happy
He comes out of his shell!

8. Petit Papa

If you want to surprise papa on Father’s Day, you can learn the tune and lyrics with this short version.

This upbeat French lullaby is one to warm the hearts of dads. The ideal French lullaby for teaching your kids the first words of infants across France, Maman et Papa.

An affectionate expression of a child’s love for their dad, the melody has been around longer than the lyrics. An air connu (well-known song) that wormed its way into the nation’s ears. Cute lyrics were added and now it is a French lullaby associated with Fête des pères (Father’s Day).

There is a more beloved children’s song that also features a (not so) petit papa. The festive favorite, “Petit Papa Noël” is a pretty good lullaby too. Save that for Christmas, Pere Noël already gets too much credit. “Petit Papa” deserves some love too.

Petit Papa, c'est aujourd'hui ta fête,
Maman m'a dit que tu n'étais pas là.
J'avais des fleurs pour couronner ta tête
Et un bouquet pour mettre sur ton cœur.
Petit Papa, petit Papa!

Little Dad, today is your day
Mommy told me you weren't here.
I had flowers to crown your head
And a bunch to put on your heart.
Little Dad, little Dad!

9. Dodo, l'enfant do

The first verse is what makes this French lullaby so well known. But the complete rhyme is entertaining too.

If your baby is teetering on the verge of sleep and you just need a short, dulcet lullaby to seal the deal, the first verse of “Dodo, l'enfant do” fits the bill. It’s all there in the title — a song gently willing the child to sleep (dodo).

Softly singing the first verse on repeat is a tried and tested parental hack in France. The other verses help turn it into a charming and calming rhyme, with common phrases that are good for learning well-used French words.  

Dodo, l’enfant do,
L’enfant dormira bien vite
Dodo, l’enfant do
L’enfant dormira bientôt.

Une poule blanche
Est là dans la grange.
Qui va faire un petit coco
Pour l’enfant qui va fair’ dodo.

Dodo, l’enfant do,
L’enfant dormira bien vite
Dodo, l’enfant do
L’enfant dormira bientôt.

Tout le monde est sage
Dans le voisinage
Il est l’heure d’aller dormir
Le sommeil va bientôt venir.

Sleep time, the child sleeps,
The child will quickly go to sleep
Sleep time, the child sleeps,
The child will soon be asleep.

A white hen
Is there in the barn
It will lay an egg
For the child who’s going to sleep.

Sleep time, the child sleeps,
The child will quickly go to sleep
Sleep time, the child sleeps,
The child will soon be asleep.

Everybody’s good
In the neighborhood
It’s time to go to sleep
Very soon you’ll be asleep.

10. Brille, brille petite étoile

You don’t need to speak French like a local to sing this familiar French lullaby.

If you’ve tried all the French lullabies in this list and your baby will not sleep, it might be time to pull out a stone-cold classic. ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’ is sung throughout the world and it sounds just as pleasing in French.

A near-identical translation of the English rhyme, the original music was taken from an old chanson enfantine, “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman”. Singing a beloved and easily recognizable lullaby in French is a compelling way for babies and parents to discover the language — but only if they stay awake long enough.

Brille, brille petite étoile
Dans la nuit qui se dévoile
Tout là-haut au firmament
Tu scintilles comme un diamant
Brille, brille petite étoile
Veille sur ceux qui dorment en bas

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are!

Voila. 10 of the most soothing French lullabies to help get your little ones to sleep. Whether you’re looking to brush up on your French or hoping to drift into a peaceful slumber filled with gallic dreams, bon courage.

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