15 French Tunes: A Playlist To Get You Humming

Favourite French Things, French Music, Life in France, Lists, Music, Music, Pop Culture

You’ve no doubt listened to Serge Gainsbourg – surely France’s best known and loved musician if not by the French then definitely by the rest of the world. However since moving to France I’ve wanted to get beyond the familiar tunes.  To stretch the musical repertoire out beyond Serge, Daft Punk, Air and Phoenix.

My knowledge of French music is strictly in two camps.  Old classics such as Serge and tunes going further back from Edith Piaf and the like.  In the second category there’s electronic music of which Daft Punk was the first to pique my interest when their killer track Da Funk was released in 1995. I still remember hearing this way back when I lived in Sydney.  It sounded fresh and exciting. Who knew they’d have such a big comeback?

What else is there though? And is it any good?

Here’s a list of 15 tracks you need to get your ears on – some are new and some are not. No matter. But I’ve avoided the usual suspects to broaden the musical outlook.

Voilà. Enjoy the Spotify playlist.


L’Amour (Part 1) : Arthur H , Nicolas Repac, Lou Doillon

This is a spoken word track with Lou Doillon (more on her later), Arthur H and Nicolas Repac from the album L’Or D’Eros. It has an undercurrent of laid back cool. This is the sort of song that goes down well at a dinner party.  It is rather reminiscent of Serge Gainsbourg it has to be said.

Le Baron Rouge : L’Impératrice

A silky smooth cut with funky beats.

Djon Maya Maï Synapson featuring Victor Démé

Chilled out African music with the vocals of Burkina Faso musician Victor Démé.

Papaoutai : Stromae


Well Stromae is Belgian but he sings in French so I’ve stretched my criteria. His hip hop / electronic style is really popular on the radio here, especially with the release of his album racine carrée.  My son’s class sing this at school so it’s one of those tracks that has become part of the cultural landscape. Lorde has included a reworked version of his track Merci, entitled Meltdown on the Hunger Games Mockingjay soundtrack.

Crush : Tahiti 80

In a similar vein to Phoenix but slightly more upbeat.  Smooth pop.

Stereo (IV Radio Edit) : Elephanz

Bouncy indie pop / rock duo from Nantes.  Catchy tune.

A bouche que veux-tu : Brigitte




Brigitte Bardot is vividly brought to mind when I hear this girly indie folk music and this is not a coincidence one thinks.  Retro Chansons. Again a perfect addition for a dinner party playlist.

Supernature : Beth Ditto and the Shoes

Cerrone‘s classic sci-fi track reworked with added growl.

Changes : Faul & Wad Ad and Pnau 

This French DJ production duo were inspired by the Pnau track ‘Baby’ to create this catchy singalong track. Brilliant.

Ce Jeu Tepr Remix : Yelle

An oldie but a goodie and infectiously dreamy.  Good to put on when you need something uplifting in your life.

IMG_9247Into Trouble : Lily Wood & the Prick 

LWATP along with Robin Schulz created one of the big hits of the year – Prayer in C.  With this track their sound is a little more brooding.  Listen to it when you’re having one of those introspective moments.



ICU : Lou Doillon

Album Cover Places

Lou Doillon released her award winning album ‘Places’ in 2012.  She is very well known in France. Her mother is Jane Birkin which helps and her father is film director Jacques Doillon.  But we’re not done there – her half sister is Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter of Serge Gainsbourg).  We’re talking French rock star family here.  She does have the goods though and her music is straightforward but poignant. Personally I think she does a better job on the music front than her half sister but that is just my opinion.  I can just picture the rawness of this song in a smoky bar with androgynous Lou singing from a bar stool.

Joe Le Taxi : Vanessa Paradis

Classic French track released in 1987 when Vanessa was only 14 years old. Her breathy little girl vocals made it a huge hit in France. You may know her as Johnny Depp‘s ex but in France she is a household name as a musician and actress.  She has also been the face for Chanel’s Coco perfume, most memorably in a  Jean Paul Goude ad styled as a bird in a cage.

Le Long de la Rivière Tendre : Sébastian Tellier

One of my favourite tracks – a dreamy electronic landscape electronic with no vocals.  Just lie back and enjoy.


Soon My Friend : M83

Check out this cinematic number.  It wasn’t released as a single but it’s one of my favourites from the album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’.  Also try Midnight City, Reunion and Steve McQueen from the same album.

2 thoughts on “15 French Tunes: A Playlist To Get You Humming”

  1. Reblogged this on DeuxPies and commented:
    http://www.meganinstmaxime.wordpress.com is one of my best pre-children friends. She’s Lorde and I’m her Taylor Swift. We went to university together and incredibly she now lives in Le Var with her French family and I live in Alpes Maritimes with mine. We pinch ourselves a lot over this. She makes trips to London with me and its so good having moved here to know she is just up the road. She has been in France a year longer so I can go to her for advice.

    We have a lot in common (we freakily posted the same instagram pic the other day out of French Grazia, love the same music and can chat for hours about pop-culture) but there are two things I really admire about Megan. The first is her ability to create the best playlists. I am reblogging this because incredibly she has managed to compile an alternative list of French music to listen to outside Serge and while I hear French songs I love, I would have had no idea where to start on this.

    Secondly, I adore perfume and there is no end to the amount of time I could spend sampling and buying. But I could never put this into words. Megan can. She is one perfume blogger to watch and I love going around to her house and being taken through a personalised tour of her scents, learning about tuberose, vanilla and throws. She is also able to tell my why I like certain scents which has become very invaluable if I end up at a perfume counter as I can confidently be steered towards new ones to try by just describing the notes (apparently I like camphor and she helped me discover that rose is not necessarily just granny if combined with tobacco and musks).

    So here is her French playlist. Enjoy!


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