Paris is undoubtedly one of the most romanticised cities in the world. The city of elegant boulevards and eclectic neighborhoods has a vibrancy like few cities in the world. So it is no wonder that there are a lot of songs about Paris about everything from love, despair, yearning, and more.
Songs can be a wonderful way to learn about places, people, and events, and listening to its lyrics about Paris often gives an understanding about the city beyond the surface. So whether you live in the city or are visiting, here are the top songs about Paris and the City of Lights.
1. Sous le ciel de Paris – Edith Piaf
Released in: 1954
Sous le ciel de Paris means “Under the skies of Paris” and the song was first sung in a movie under the same name in 1951. But it would be Edith Piaf who made the song immortal, with lyrics like “Under the sky of Paris, lovers walk, hum hum, their happiness is built, on a tune made for them…”.
2. Champs Elysées – Joe Dassin
Released in: 1969
Joe Dassin came up with this campy karaoke tune, that you will find yourself humming this catchy refrain as you go shopping on Paris’s famed Avenue des Champs Elysées. It may sound campy but this is one of the most famous songs in France, that has definitely stood the test of time.
3. Paris, Paris, Paris – Josephine Baker
Released in: 1949
American turned French citizen and resistance fighter Josephine Baker became one of the most legendary women in France.
In the song “Paris, Paris, Paris,” she sings to the legendary city, with lyrics like “Paris, de mes amours c’est lui le favori” meaning “Paris, of my loves it is she who is the favorite”.
4. April in Paris – Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie
Released in: 1956
Originally written in 1932, this song about April in Paris was reinterpreted by the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. In full spring time, it captures all the romanticism that visitors to Paris experience when they come to the city.
5. Revoir Paris – Charles Trenet
Released in: 1947
Au revoir Paris, meaning “till next time, Paris” is a song by famed male French singer Charles Trenet who sings about leaving Paris as a young man, to go back home to his house in the suburbs, where his mother is waiting. From the Seine river to Bois de Vincennes, he heads home until the next time.
6. Paris sera toujours Paris – Zaz
Released in: 2014
The song “Paris will always be Paris” was first released in 1939 on the eve of WWII by the legendary Maurice Chevalier. With foreboding lyrics that hint at the German occupation to come, it pays tribute to the city and its people.
7. Little French song – Carla Bruni
Released in: 2013
Songwriter and model Carla Bruni also happens to be one of the top female singers in France along with being a former First lady of France. In a mix of French and English, this about some of Paris’s most famous residents, from Edith Piaf to Serge Gainsbourg and more.
8. Ménilmontant – Charles Trenet
Released in: 1938
Singer songwriter Charles Trenet was only 25 when he wrote this song dedicated the quartier of Ménilmontant in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. It was a working class lively neighbourhood, a far cry from his hometown of Narbonne in the south of France.
9. Free Man in Paris – Joni Mitchell
Released in: 1974
Joni Mitchell talks about the feeling of being alive in Paris, in this song written about a trip she took there with a close friend, agent David Geffen in the early 1970s.
10. Paris is at her best in May – Sammy Davis, Jr.
Released in: 1966
The French version of the song J’aime Paris Au Mois De Mai (“I love Paris in the month of May“) by Charles Aznavour was released a year earlier, celebrating Paris in springtime. It would be the legendary Sammy Davis Jr. who would bring it to anglophone audiences.
11. Bonjour Paris – Liza Minelli and Charles Aznavour
Released in: 1973
Liza Minelli would pair up with French singer Charles Aznavour with this duet at the Palais des Congrès in Paris. The song originates from the 1957 movie “Funny face” staring Audrey Hepburn, Kay Thompson, and Fred Astaire.
12. A country girl in Paris – John Denver
Released in: 1988
Songwriter John Denver evokes a strikingly sad scene of a young woman in Paris, dreaming of home in Nashville, Tennessee despite the beauty all around
13. Under the Bridges of Paris – Eartha Kitt
Released in: 1953
14. Ni**as in Paris – Jay-z and Kanye West
Released in: 2011
Jay-z and Kanye West bring down the house with this rather explicit song that won the 2013 Grammy award for best rap song.
15. La Seine – Vanessa Paradis & M
Released in: 2011
From the animated film Un monstre à Paris (meaning “A monster in Paris”) comes the song “La Seine” by Vanessa Paradis accompanied by the singer M. An english version was later recorded with Sean Lennon.
16. Paname – Booba
Released in: 2017
French rapper Booba takes a takes a less romantic view of “Paname”, the nickname of the Paris, a city that has its problems like many others. This is the other side of Paris.
17. Paris – Little Dragon
Released in: 2012
Musical band Little Dragon is ready to move on and fly away to Paris, to leave the past behind and move on to a different future, away from the ordinary.
18. Paname – Slimane
Released in: 2016
Another song referring to Paris by its nickname is by French singer Slimane. He too is headed to Paris, for the bright lights and the vibrant cafés with his dreams in hand.
19. Le Poinçonneur des Lilas – Serge Gainsbourg
Released in: 1958
On the edge of the city of Paris in Les Lilas is rock-n-roll singer Serge Gainsbourg, one of the most famous personalities in France. He name-drops the stops on metro lines to get there, ready to leave the underground and go into the bright sunshine.
20. Place Pigalle – Maurice Chevalier
Released in: 1946
Place Pigalle in Montmartre was the place to be for artists including Maurice Chevalier in this song released after the war. Paris was free again after occupation, to think about the simple things and enjoy. You can read more about Paris’s history here.
21. Paris Le Flore – Etienne Daho
Released in: 1986
The famous Café Le Flore in Paris gets a shoutout from Etienne Daho in this song about terrasse-life looking for fun and adventure, but not always finding it.
22. Paris sous les bombes – Suprême NTM
Released in: 1995
French hip hop band Suprême NTM released this track under the album of the same name, exploring the side of Paris that visitors rarely see. The album was a huge success in France, becoming one of the top selling albums of all time.
23. Give Paris One More Chance – Jonathan Richman
Released in: 1983
It is called the Paris syndrome, those that have fallen out of love with Paris. Jonathan Richman acknowledges its shortfalls but still asks that you give the city another chance.
24. J’aime plus Paris – Thomas Dutronc
Released in: 2007
Singer Thomas Dutronc however has had enough of Paris, with its grey skies, dreary underground, and busy city life. He is ready to leave as he makes clear. (You can read more about living in Paris here.)
25. 1901 – Phoenix
Released in: 2009
French indie pop band Phoenix explores Paris in their version of the city in the early 20th century. The lyrics don’t quite make much sense, but the song remains catchy.
26. Paris loves lovers – Fred Astaire
Released in: 1957
From the movie Silk Stockings, came this lovely tune by Fred Astaire with Carol Richards. It is a romantic song for all those who fall in love, or want to fall in love, in Paris.
27. La Bohème – Charles Aznavour
Released in: 1965
In the album of the same name, Charles Aznavour sings about a painter, recalling his younger years in Montmartre. It was a different world, a world of artists and in those years he was hungry, yet knew a happiness that could not be purchased.
28. Le Pont Mirabeau – Marc Lavoine
Released in: 2001
One of the most famous poems about Paris, the Pont Mirabeau by Guillaume Apollinaire 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, and Marc Lavoine’s interpretation to music would win rave reviews.
If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more about the top poems about Paris. A bientôt!