The carolers are singing, the sleigh-bells are ringing and the radio stations are blasting holiday cheer. But what holiday music are people listening to in France? Naturally, the French have their own playlist of Yuletide hits that include both original songs, and French versions of English-speaking favorites.
Here’s our list of French Christmas hits to get you in the Frenchly holiday spirit:
1. Petit Papa Noël – Tino Rossi
This 1946 hit by Tino Rossi is France’s best-selling single of all time. It was featured in the Richard Pottier film Destins, and became an huge success. Since then, it has been covered by many artists, and is the perfect song for that classic old-school Christmas feeling.
2. Vive le Vent – Sung by MIKA
Ever wonder if the French have a version of “Jingle Bells”? Check out “Vive le Vent,” which translates to “Long Live the Wind” (of winter). This song takes on French lyrics about the beauty of winter, sung to the tune we know and love here in the U.S.
3. Douce Nuit Sainte Nuit – Chorale Gospel de Rueil Malmaison
This pretty song is the French version of “Silent Night.” The title literally translates to “Sweet Night, Holy Night,” and the lyrics convey the same sentiment as the English version. We can just hear it being sung in the cathedrals of France on Christmas Eve.
4. Le petit renne au nez rouge – Folklore de Noël
It’s “the little reindeer with the red nose” — sound familiar? This fun French version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” perfect for teaching kids French.
5. Joyeux Noël – Garou
It’s the Christmas song that we all know in love, but in French. This relaxed, jazzy version comes from French singer Garou’s Christmas album, It’s Magic.
6. Père Noël arrive ce soir – Michèle Richard
Literally translated as “Father Christmas arrives tonight,” this is the classic “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” This fun, upbeat version comes from Noël Yé Yé avec Michèle Richard from 1965.
7.Il va naître à minuit – Alain Morisod & Sweet People
This original ballad, “He will be born at midnight,” tells the Christmas story. Its calm and relaxing pace is perfect for any quiet moment.
8. Noël c’est toi – Marie-Eve Janvier and Jean-François Breau
This adorable duet, “Christmas is You,” features jazzy chords and sweet lyrics such as, “C’est toi, le plus grand cadeau que m’a fait la vie” (“you are the best present that life has given me”). It sounds almost like French café music — but for Christmas!
9. Theme from Le Pôle express
You know you loved The Polar Express, but have you ever watched it in French? Check out the theme song from this hit Christmas movie.
10. Mon beau Sapin – Carol
This version of “O Christmas Tree,” literally translated in French to “My beautiful fir tree,” is a traditional Christmas carol, perfect for the season.