Joyeux Noël: 10 French Christmas Songs for Your Holiday Playlist

Around the world, citizens of Earth are getting into the Christmas spirit, and France is no exception. France’s holiday culture isn’t as prevalent as that of North America’s, though. For instance, French Christmas songs aren’t played nearly as often as those in North America (and typically only during the week of the holiday). So if you prefer your Christmas carols in moderation, France might be a good holiday destination.

While many new French Christmas songs are released each year, France’s long Christmas tradition means that versions of traditional carols are the most popular and well-known songs you’ll hear during the holiday.

To give you a taste of what Christmas sounds like in France, we’ve created a Spotify playlist of 10 of the most popular French Christmas songs, along with a brief history of each one.

Put it on for this year’s Noël, and let’s allons-y!

10 French Christmas Songs

These classic carols will put you in a French holiday mood this season.

1. “Douce Nuit”

As with most of the carols on this list, “Douce Nuit” is a French version of an iconic Christmas song. In this case it’s “Silent Night,” which was originally written in German. The French translation carries the same message as the English one, singing the praises of the newfound baby Jesus and wishing peace to all.

There are countless versions of this French Christmas song, including one particularly popular recording by Tino Rossi, which you’ll hear on the playlist.

2. “Il est né, le divin Enfant”

“Il est né, le divin Enfant” translates to English as “He is born, the divine Child.” This is an original French carol with a long tradition. It was first published in 1862 and has been reimagined countless times over the years. Its lyrics recount the birth of Jesus, the divine Child, and bless His humility.

There are several popular versions of “Il est né, le divin Enfant,” including a more traditional take by Tino Rossi, as well as a contemporary, rock-n-roll version by Annie Lennox. That’s the one we chose for its slow build and glorious harmonies.

3. “Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes”

If you’re familiar with the European tradition of Christmas carols, you’ll recognize this timeless tune as a French version of “Angels We Have Heard On High.” The French rendition is called “Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes,” which literally translates to English as “The Angels in Our Countryside.” Another account of the birth of Jesus, this song praises the angels who announced His arrival.

You’ll find many French versions of this carol performed by choirs and choruses, making it a particularly common song to hear during the season. Some of the more interesting, alternative versions include the one we added to the playlist, a harmonica-driven, folk-inspired cover by Bruce Cockburn.

4. “Mon Beau Sapin”

“Mon Beau Sapin” is a French version of “O Tannenbaum,” known in English as “O Christmas Tree.” “O Tannenbaum,” based on a traditional European folk song that had nothing to do with the holidays, became a modern-day Christmas carol in the mid-19th century, when a German composer and teacher added Christmasy lyrics. Unlike Christmas carols that have a religious focus, “Mon Beau Sapin” is all about the beauty and joy brought by a Fir Christmas tree.

This is a popular carol worldwide, and it comes in numerous languages and versions. On our French Christmas Carols playlist, you’ll hear a glorious orchestral version performed by iconic French musician Bruno Pelletier.

French Christmas Songs

5. “Noël Blanc”

This is a French version of another widely recognizable carol, “White Christmas.” “Noël Blanc” is a nostalgic song about the beauty and excitement of a snowy Christmas.

While you’ll find many wonderful versions of the song in many languages, we’ve chosen the French-language, swingy version by Montreal, Canada’s Ginette Reno. This song showcases her buttery-smooth vocals, backed by a lilting string orchestra.

6. “O Peuple Fidèle”

“O Peuple Fidèle” will sound very familiar to those who have heard the English version of this traditional religious carol, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The lyrics ask all those who are faithful to come and see Jesus, recognizing him as their saviour.

Though it’s common to find instrumental versions of this song without lyrics, you can also find recordings with vocals by choirs and solo artists. We chose a soaring, beautifully-delivered version by the Emmanuel Music choir in Boston, USA.

7. “Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle”

This is an original French Christmas song that first appeared in print in 1668. For over 300 years, French citizens have been singing and listening to “Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle,” or “Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” in English. This song is about the excitement of learning that Jesus has been born and preparing gifts to bring.

Musicians have recorded many beautiful versions of this traditional carol over the years, including some without lyrics—like Loreena McKennitt’s jiggy, folky, instrumental version included on the playlist.

We also included a version with the lyrics, performed by Chanticleer, a famous vocal group known as ‘an orchestra of voices’. These songs are traditionally performed by choirs. This version will take you back in time to a simpler place for Christmas.

8. “Vive le Vent”

We couldn’t make a playlist of French Christmas carols without including “Vive le Vent,” France’s version of one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time, “Jingle Bells.”

Although the French lyrics don’t share the English version’s exact narrative of a sleigh ride—vive le vent translates to English as “long live the wind”—the overall themes are the same: The joy, beauty, and fun of Christmas. The French song talks about Christmas trees, snowballs, candles, and the holiday meal.

Of the countless French renditions of “Vive le Vent,” perhaps the most popular is the jazzy, conga-driven recording by noted jazz composer MIKA and Michel Legrand. We’ve included this famous hit on the playlist, along with a more pop-star version by Marie-Élaine Thibert, a singer based out of Quebec, Canada.

This Christmas, Connect

Christmas in France is a time to relax, have fun, and spend time with those you love most. If you’re unable to be with your family in person this holiday season, there’s still a way to stay connected—through music. Add our French Christmas song playlist to your Spotify favorites, and share it with your carol-loving family and friends around the world.

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