8 Beautiful Poems about Paris, France

Revel in the City of Lights with these beautiful poems about Paris, France. From springtime to difficult times, this enchanting city has seen it all.
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When we think of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris immediately comes to mind. With its beautiful architecture and long history of romance, it is no wonder so many poets from France and overseas have been swept off their feet by the City of Lights.

One of the things that readers will note about many of the poems written about Paris, is that the perspective of the poem changes depending on whether the poet is French or a foreigner.

While visitors tend to look at Paris with rose-colored glasses, the locals see the city with rather more jaded view, moving from awestruck wonder to melancholy. So covering the different perspectives, here are the top poems about Paris, with English translation. Allons-y!

1. Pont Mirabeau – Guillaume Apollinaire

One of the most famous poems about Paris, the Pont Mirabeau was first released in 1912 as a tribute to lost love.

Apollinaire was considered one of the foremost French poets of the early 20th century. Moving to Paris in 1900, he became fast friends with other famous contemporaries of his time including Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Gertrude Stein, French artist Marc Chagall, and more.

A plaque sits on the Pont de Mirabeau in Paris, repeating the first lines of the poem.

French Poem about ParisEnglish Translation
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine
Under the Mirabeau Bridge
flows the Seine
And our loves
Must he remind me
of that Joy that always came after pain
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
Let night ring the hour
The days go by I remain
Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
Tandis que sous
Le pont de nos bras passe
Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse
Hands in hands let’s stay face to face
While under
The bridge of our arms pass
The eternal gaze on the wave so weary
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
Let night ring the hour
The days go by I remain
L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante
L’amour s’en va
Comme la vie est lente
Et comme l’Espérance est violente
Love goes like this running water Love flies away
How slow life is
And as Hope is violent
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
Let night ring the hour
The days go by I remain
Passent les jours et passent les semaines
Ni temps passé
Ni les amours reviennent
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Pass the days and pass the weeks No time spent
Neither love returns
The Seine flows under the Mirabeau bridge
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
Let night ring the hour
The days go by I remain
Spring in Paris

2. Paris in Spring – Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale was an American poet who she won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection Love Songs.

Her poem about Paris and the Bois de Boulogne expresses that magical feeling and romance of being in the City of Lights in the spring.

Poem about Paris
The city’s all a-shining
Beneath a fickle sun,
A gay young wind’s a-blowing,
The little shower is done.
But the rain-drops still are clinging
And falling one by one —
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time has begun.
I know the Bois is twinkling
In a sort of hazy sheen,
And down the Champs the gray old arch
Stands cold and still between.
But the walk is flecked with sunlight
Where the great acacias lean,
Oh it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And the leaves are growing green.
The sun’s gone in, the sparkle’s dead,
There falls a dash of rain,
But who would care when such an air
Comes blowing up the Seine?
And still Ninette sits sewing
Beside her window-pane,
When it’s Paris, it’s Paris,
And spring-time’s come again.

3. Paris – Jules Supervielle

Born in Uruguay to French parents, Jules Supervielle was orphaned during a family visit to France at 1 year old and raised by his grandmother.  

He would go on to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times.

French Poem about ParisEnglish Translation
Ô Paris, ville ouverte
Ainsi qu’une blessure,
Que n’es-tu devenue
De la campagne verte.
O Paris, open city
Like a wound,
what have you become
From the green countryside.
Te voilà regardée
Par des yeux ennemis,
De nouvelles oreilles
Écoutent nos vieux bruits.
Here you are looking
Through enemy eyes,
new ears
Listen to our old sounds.
La Seine est surveillée
Comme du haut d’un puits
Et ses eaux jour et nuit
Coulent emprisonnées.
The Seine is monitored
Like from the top of a well
And its waters day and night
Flowing imprisoned.
Tous les siècles français
Si bien pris dans la pierre
Vont-ils pas nous quitter
Dans leur grande colère ?
All French centuries
So well set in stone
Won’t they leave us
In their great anger?
L’ombre est lourde de têtes
D’un pays étranger.
Voulant rester secrète
Au milieu du danger
The shadow is heavy with heads
From a foreign country.
Wanting to stay secret
In the middle of danger
S’éteint quelque merveille
Qui préfère mourir
Pour ne pas nous trahir
En demeurant pareille.
Extinguishes some wonder
who would rather die
To not betray us
By remaining the same.
Bastille in Paris
Place de la Bastille, Paris

4. Place de la Bastille, Paris – Dante Gabriel Rossetti

English poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote about the Place de la Bastille in Paris during a visit there in 1849.

It is here at the Place de la bastille, where once stood the ancient fortress prison called Bastille Saint-Antoine dating back to the 14th century.

On July 14, 1789 the revolutionaries stormed into the Bastille, freeing all the prisoners and beheading the prison’s governor and stuck his head on a spike. The French revolution had begun.

Today, the site of the Bastille is a large circular roundabout and a tall pillar in where the famous “Génie de la Liberté” (Spirit of Freedom) commemorates the revolution of 1789 and 1830.

Poem about Paris
How dear the sky has been above this place!
Small treasures of this sky that we see here
Seen weak through prison-bars from year to year;
Eyed with a painful prayer upon God’s grace
To save, and tears which stayed along the face
Lifted at sunset. Yea, how passing dear
Those nights when through the bars a wind left clear
The heaven, and moonlight soothed the limpid space!
So was it, till one night the secret kept
Safe in low vault and stealthy corridor
Was blown abroad on gospel-tongues of flame.
O ways of God, mysterious evermore!
How many on this spot have cursed and wept
That all might stand here now and own Thy Name.
La Defense statue outside Paris
La Defense statute dedicated to those French fighters protecting the city during the Seige of Paris.

5. Paris bloqué (Paris blocked) – Victor Hugo

One of France’s most famous writers and poets has to be Victor Hugo. With a career spanning over 60 years, he wrote everything from satire to poetry, critical essays and historical odysseys. Many of his time-honored works including love poems, kids’ poems, and quotes live on today.

In his poem “Paris blocked, collection the Terrible Year” which was published in 1872, Hugo writes about the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian war, when German troops surrounded the city.

French Poem about ParisEnglish Translation
Ô ville, tu feras agenouiller l’histoire.
Saigner est ta beauté, mourir est ta victoire.
O city, you will make history kneel.
Bleeding is your beauty, dying is your victory.
Mais non, tu ne meurs pas. Ton sang coule, mais ceux
Qui voyaient César rire en tes bras paresseux,
S’étonnent : tu franchis la flamme expiatoire,
Dans l’admiration des peuples, dans la gloire,
Tu retrouves, Paris, bien plus que tu ne perds.
But no, you’re not dying. Your blood is flowing, but those
Who saw Caesar laughing in your lazy arms,
Are astonished: you cross the expiatory flame,
In the admiration of the peoples, in glory,
You find, Paris, much more than you lose.
Ceux qui t’assiègent, ville en deuil, tu les conquiers.
La prospérité basse et fausse est la mort lente ;
Tu tombais folle et gaie, et tu grandis sanglante.
Those who besiege you, mourning city, you conquer them.
Low and false prosperity is slow death;
You fell mad and gay, and you grew bloody.
Tu sors, toi qu’endormit l’empire empoisonneur,
Du rapetissement de ce hideux bonheur.
Tu t’éveilles déesse et chasses le satyre.
You go out, you whom the poisonous empire slept,
Of the reduction of this hideous happiness.
You wake up goddess and hunt the satyr.
Tu redeviens guerrière en devenant martyre ;
Et dans l’honneur, le beau, le vrai, les grandes moeurs,
Tu renais d’un côté quand de l’autre tu meurs.
You become a warrior again by becoming a martyr;
And in honor, beauty, truth, high morals,
You are reborn on one side when on the other you die.
Paris on the Seine - French poetry

6. Chanson de la Seine – Jacques Prévert

Poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert wrote a number of screenplays, and his poetry that are still taught in French schools today.

Here he writes a beautiful poem about the Seine river that flows through the center of Paris. You can read and listen to some beautiful songs about Paris here.

French Poem about ParisEnglish Translation
La Seine a de la chance
Elle n’a pas de soucis
Elle se la coule douce
Le jour comme la nuit
Et elle sort de sa source
The Seine is lucky
She has no worries
She takes it easy
Day and night
And it comes from its source
Tout doucement sans bruit
Et sans se faire de mousse
Sans sorti de son lit
Elle s’en va vers la mer
En passant par Paris
La Seine a de la chance
Quietly quietly
And without getting foamy
Without getting out of bed
She goes to the sea
Passing through Paris
The Seine is lucky
Elle n’a pas de soucis
Et quand elle se promène
Tout le long de ses quais
Avec sa belle robe verte
Et ses lumières dorées
Notre-Dame jalouse
She has no worries
And when she walks
All along its quays
With her beautiful green dress
And its golden lights
Notre-Dame is jealous
Immobile et sévère
Du haut de toutes ses pierres
La regarde de travers
Mais la Seine s’en balance
Elle n’a pas de soucis
Elle se la coule douce
Motionless and stern
From the top of all its stones
look at her sideways
But the Seine doesn’t care
She has no worries
She takes it easy
Le jour comme la nuit
Et s’en va vers le Havre
Et s’en va vers la mer
En passant comme un rêve
Au milieu des mystères
Des misères de Paris.
Day like the night
And goes to Le Havre
And goes to the sea
Passing like a dream
In the midst of mysteries
the miseries of Paris.

7. Paris – Paul Verlaine

French poet Paul Verlaine was born in Metz in a somewhat well-to-do bourgeoisie family, and would move to Paris at a young age. It is here that he would publish his first poem Monsieur Prudhomme at the age of 19, finding much much success and literary acclaim.

His beautiful poem Paris expresses a local’s love, where reality meets that idyllic vision of the City of Lights.

French Poem about ParisEnglish Translation
Paris n’a de beauté qu’en son histoire,
Mais cette histoire est belle tellement !
La Seine est encaissée absurdement,
Mais son vert clair à lui seul vaut la gloire.
Paris has beauty only in its history,
But this story is so beautiful!
The Seine is banked absurdly,
But its bright green alone is worth the glory.
Paris n’a de gaîté que son bagout,
Mais ce bagout, encor qu’assez immonde,
Il fait le tour des langages du monde,
Salant un peu ce trop fade ragoût.
Paris has no gaiety except its patter,
But this patter, still quite filthy,
It goes around the languages ​​of the world,
Adding a little salt to this too bland stew.
Paris n’a de sagesse que le sombre
Flux de son peuple et de ses factions,
Alors qu’il fait des révolutions
Avec l’Ordre embusqué dans la pénombre.
Paris has wisdom only the dark
Flow of his people and his factions,
As he makes revolutions
With the Order ambushed in the dark.
Paris n’a que sa Fille de charmant
Laquelle n’est au prix de l’Exotique
Que torts gentils et vice peu pratique
Et ce quasi désintéressement.
Paris only has her charming daughter
Which is not at the price of the Exotic
What kind wrongs and impractical vices
And this quasi disinterestedness.
Paris n’a de bonté que sa légère
Ivresse de désir et de plaisir,
Sans rien de trop que le vague désir
De voir son plaisir égayer son frère.
Paris has no kindness but its lightness
Drunkenness of desire and pleasure,
With nothing more than the vague desire
To see his pleasure cheer up his brother.
Paris n’a rien de triste et de cruel
Que le poëte annuel ou chronique,
Crevant d’ennui sous l’oeil d’une clinique
Non loin du vieil ouvrier fraternel.
Paris has nothing sad and cruel
Whether the annual or chronic poet,
Dying of boredom under the eye of a clinic
Not far from the old brotherly worker.
Vive Paris quand même et son histoire
Et son bagout et sa Fille, naïf
Produit d’un art pervers et primitif,
Et meure son poëte expiatoire !
Long live Paris anyway and its history
And his patter and his daughter, naive
Product of a perverse and primitive art,
And die his expiatory poet!
Montmartre
Montmartre, Paris

8. Le Spleen de Paris – Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire was a noted French poet, essayist, and art critic. A contemporary of Victor Hugo, Baudelaire became one of the top French poets of his time.

He too had a mixed view of Paris, and expresses it in this poem titled “the Spleen of Paris”.

French Poem about ParisEnglish translation
Le cœur content, je suis monté sur la montagne
D’où l’on peut contempler la ville en son ampleur,
Hôpital, lupanars, purgatoire, enfer, bagne,
Où toute énormité fleurit comme une fleur.
With a happy heart, I climbed the mountain
From where you can contemplate the city in its fullness,
Hospital, lupanars, purgatory, hell, penal colony,
Where all enormity blooms like a flower.
Tu sais bien, ô Satan, patron de ma détresse,
Que je n’allais pas là pour répandre un vain pleur ;
Mais comme un vieux paillard d’une vieille maîtresse,
Je voulais m’enivrer de l’énorme catin
Dont le charme infernal me rajeunit sans cesse.
You know well, O Satan, patron of my distress, That I was not going there to shed empty tears; But like an old bastard of an old mistress,
I wanted to get drunk on the huge strumpet
Whose infernal charm constantly rejuvenates me.
Que tu dormes encor dans les draps du matin,
Lourde, obscure, enrhumée, ou que tu te pavanes
Dans les voiles du soir passementés d’or fin,
That you still sleep in the morning sheets,
Heavy, dark, cold, or you’re strutting around
In the evening veils trimmed with fine gold,
Je t’aime, ô capitale infâme ! Courtisanes
Et bandits, tels souvent vous offrez des plaisirs
Que ne comprennent pas les vulgaires profanes.
I love you, O infamous capital! Courtesans
And bandits, such often you offer pleasures
What the vulgar profane do not understand.
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If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more quotes about Paris. A bientôt!

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