Tinkling laughter, a few stumbles down ancient cobblestone streets hand in hand with your French lover, quoting sweet nothings in your ear. Is there any place more romantic than Paris in the spring? Add in a few French love quotes and a picnic basket by the Seine, and you are all set. (Well Paris in winter is equally lovely and the lover doesn’t have to be French, but I digress.)
With français being the language of love, and Paris as a backdrop, can you blame these writers for getting swept away by a current of amour? Having lived in France for the past 10+ years, the romance of it all never gets old. Add a bit of whimsy and a lot of romance, and you too will want to start quoting a few lines dedicated to the joys of falling in love.
Without further ado, here are in my opinion, some of the best French proverbs and romantic sayings about love and amour.
1. Aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder ensemble dans la même direction.
Translation: To love is not to look at each other, it is to look together in the same direction.
By the author of the French literary classic Petit Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupéry wrote this wonderful quote about growing old together.
2. Il n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé.
Translation: There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.
French novelist Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin aka George Sand uttered these famous words. Known for dressing in male attire, she had many affairs including a turbulent relationship with the composer Frédéric Chopin.
3. Les seuls beaux yeux sont ceux qui vous regardent avec tendresse.
Translation: The only beautiful eyes are those who look at you with tenderness.
The legendary Coco Chanel had a dramatic love life herself, so she knew what she was talking about when she said these words.
4. Entre deux cœurs qui s’aiment, nul besoin de paroles.
Translation: Between two hearts, there is no need for words.
The French poet (and part-time actress) Marceline Desbordes-Valmore wrote down this lovely proverb, leaving us speechless. (I couldn’t resist!)
5. L’amour, c’est renoncer à l’intelligence pour vivre de ses sens.
Translation: Love is giving up intelligence to live by your senses.
Ignoring the foolishness of love and embracing the moment, by Belgian writer Josiane Coeijmans.
6. Vivre sans aimer n’est pas proprement vivre.
Translation: To live without love, is to not live.
French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, who is better known as the legendary Molière, is accredited with this beautiful proverb.
7. On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entier.
Translation: We love only what we do not have entirely.
Do we always want what we don’t quite have? In English, we have “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, though that is not quite the same. A toast to unrequited love by French novelist Marcel Proust.
8. C’est cela l’amour, tout donner, tout sacrifier sans espoir de retour.
Translation: This is love, giving it one’s all, sacrificing everything without hope of it being returned.
Philosopher Albert Camus dives into the darker side of love with this French saying. He was married a couple of times, had many affairs, and won the Nobel prize for literature, so obviously knew what he was talking about. (Note: If you are traveling through Provence, stop by the Château de Lourmarin to see where he wrote many of his most famous musings.)
9. On ne peut vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche.
Translation: We can live on love and fresh water.
One of my particular favorites for all those newly in love, and a tiny bit obsessed with each other: who needs food, all we need is love and water!
10. L’amour est comme le vent, nous ne savons pas d’où il vient.
Translation: Love is like the wind, we don’t know from where it comes.
French novelist Honoré de Balzac said these words in his novel La Peau de chagrin (“The Wild Ass’s Skin) in 1831.
11. Et c’est parfois dans un regard, dans un sourire que sont cachés les mots qu’on n’a jamais su dire.
Translation: And it is sometimes in a look, in a smile that are hidden the words that we never knew how to say.
That look across the room, the knowing smile, the secret wink… Ok, I’ll stop now, carry on.
12. La vie est un sommeil, l’amour en est le rêve.
Translation: Life is a good night’s sleep, and love is a dream.
French novelist Alfred de Musset explores the dreamy side of love with this enchanting quote.
13. Le secret du bonheur en amour, ce n’est pas d’être aveugle mais de savoir fermer les yeux quand il le faut.
Translation: The secret to happiness and love, is not to be blind but to know how to close your eyes when necessary.
Love is blind, as we say in English, but this one goes a little deeper. To stay in love, you must be a little blind to all the foibles of the one you love. Truth.
14. Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas.
Translation: The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.
French mathematician Blaise Pascal knows a thing or two about reasoning, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t philosophise about love.
15. L’amour c’est comme la guerre, facile à démarrer, difficile à finir… et impossible à oublier.
Translation: Love is like war, easy to start, difficult to finish … and impossible to forget.
Remember your first true “love”? Or what you thought was love anyway.
16. On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur.
Translation: We only see well with the heart.
Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Petit Prince is full of wonderful sayings, and this is yet another one of them. A writer and Legion d’honneur winner, Saint-Exupéry was also a commercial pilot who died towards the end of World War II during a reconnaissance mission off the coast of Marseille.
17. Les routes les plus difficiles mènent aux plus belles destinations.
Translation: The most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.
The French version of “happily ever after”.
18. Je vous souhaite d’être follement aimée.
Translation: My hope for you is to be madly loved.
Thrice-married writer and poet André Breton proclaimed this lovely sentiment. Is there a better wish that you can wish someone?
19. Distance signifie si peu quand quelqu’un signifie beaucoup.
Translation: Distance means so little when someone means a lot.
For those making it work in a long-distance relationship. I’ve seen both sides, couples making it work, and couples letting go. It is never easy, is it?
20. Chaque jour je t’aime davantage, aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain.
Translation: Each day I love you more, today more than yesterday, and quite less than tomorrow.
Rosemonde Gérard solves the problem of who loves who more, with this charming quote. The wife of Edmond Rostand (author of Cyrano de Bergerac), was known to have quite a way with words herself, as clearly demonstrated here.
21. Un bonheur imparfait vaut mieux qu’un amour impossible.
Translation: Imperfect happiness is better than impossible love.
People are imperfect, and so must be their love. To accept and embrace, surely that is happiness?
22. L’amour est la poésie des sens.
Translation: Love is the poetry of the senses.
French novelist Honoré de Balzac explores the sensory wonders of love, with this exquisite quote.
23. L’esprit s’enrichit de ce qu’il reçoit, le cœur de ce qu’il donne.
Translation: The spirit enriches with what it receives, the heart with what it gives.
Famed novelist Victor Hugo, the writer of Les Misérables and the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, talks about fulfilling the soul with this beautiful proverb.
24. En amour on pardonne, mais on n’oublie jamais.
Translation: In love we forgive, but we never forget.
For all those who have broken our hearts, adieu.
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