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From Jitterbug to Travel Bug: 8 Songs to Make You Dream of France

8th November 2016 Posted by: Tom Hagues

MUSIC can make you do a lot of things; it can make you smile, it can make you cry or even laugh, and it can also make you want to travel. Some songs just remind you of a particular country – perhaps you heard it for the first time when there, the artist is from that country, or it was used in the soundtrack to a film. Turn the jitterbug into a travel bug with these songs that make me think of France. Vive la musique!

1. Non, je ne regrette rien by Edith Piaf

This is so obvious, but I can’t apologise for this choice. It’s quintessentially French and has been used so often in film and television that it is as much a part of the French stereotype as onions and berets – and probably more accurate! It’s also the perfect song to drive around country lanes to, be it in Brittany or around the Dordogne.

2. Under the Bridges of Paris by Eartha Kitt

The orchestral section of this song sounds almost like accordions, and what’s more French than that? It’s a beautiful combination of swaying waltz music and the soulful rich tones of Kitt’s voice.

3. I Love Paris by Ella Fitzgerald

This Paris-centric song sums up how most visitors to the City of Light feel. Listen to this and you’ll be enthused enough to hop on a Eurostar. You could be sipping wine and strolling along the Champs-Élysées in no time at all, all thanks to the remarkable voice of Ella Fitzgerald.

4. La Mer by Charles Trenet

Apparently Monsieur Trenet wrote this song in a mere ten minutes, but whether that’s true or not is irrelevant. This famous French song is about the allure of the sea, and you might recognise the English version. Listening to its French lyrics, you can’t help but want to bury your toes in the sandy beaches in the south-west of the country. 

5. La Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf

Piaf makes the list twice because it’s pretty much unavoidable: she is a titan of French music. This particular song is about something the French are renowned for – love. In 1998 this song won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Tres bien.

6. La Marseillaise (French national anthem)

Nothing makes me want to head to France as much as La Marseillaise. While it’s a national anthem and not really a pop song, it’s definitely one of the best national anthems in the world. The tune is victorious, it’s empowering and uplifting.

7. Born This Way by Lady Gaga (the whole album)

This might seem like a shock choice, but the reason it makes this list is for personal reasons. I listened to this entire album (and not very much else) while driving to the very south of France from Calais and didn’t get bored of it. If that doesn’t say something about this record then I don’t know what does.

8. This Wheel's on Fire by Kylie Minogue

This is a modern one, especially compared to some of the other tracks on this list. The long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous movie came out earlier this year. At the end of the film, Edina and Patsy lounge on the back of a superyacht as it traverses the waves of the French Riviera, and Kylie’s big, bass-heavy club version of the song begins to play. It’s a sexy track and I can imagine it being played loudly on boat parties off the shores of Nice.


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