Jingle Bells in French : Vive le vent!

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart… (yeah! I translated and sang you The Twelve Days of Christmas in French which is basically the same but without the added risk of you giving it away the very next day). This year, to save me you from tears, I’m not going to sing – I’m going to give you the lyrics to the French version of Jingle Bells, along with some neat French lessons. Eat your heart out, George Michael!

Now, how in Santa’s Stockings do you translate, “Jingle Bells” into French?

You don’t! Let’s face it, it barely means anything in English. Fortunately, the French have their own lyrics for this tune, which are very different but equally jolly and festive…

Vive le vent (“Long live the wind”)

(Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells.)

Frankly, the hardest part with this song is trying to squeeze all those tricky extra French syllables in without swallowing your own tongue. Here’s a cute version I found on YouTube. I hope the child who sang it survived.

Righto! Let’s see what we can learn from these lyrics. (To reveal the translation along with a relevant lesson, click the arrows to the right.)

Verse 1

Et tout là-haut le vent,
Qui siffle dans les branches...

= And all above the wind,
Which whistles in the branches...
Related lessons:
Qui = Who, which, that (relative pronouns)
...Lui souffle la romance, 
Qu'il chantait petit enfant, oh !
= ...Whispers to him the (romantic) song, 
That he used to sing (as a) young child, oh!
Related lessons:
Que = Whom, which, that (relative pronouns)

Chorus

In French, the expression “Vive (quelque chose)” has become a bit like the English “Hooray for (something)” and can actually be used with things as well as people. E.g. “Vive les vacances!” Hooray for holidays!

Vive le vent d'hiver, 
Qui s'en va sifflant, soufflant,  
Dans les grands sapins verts, oh !

= Long live the winter wind, 
that goes whistling, blowing, 
through the big green pine trees, oh!
Related lessons:
Qui = Who, which, that (relative pronouns)

S'en aller = To leave
Vive le temps, vive le temps,
Vive le temps d'hiver,
= Long live the weather, long live the weather,
Long live the winter weather,
Related lessons:
Prepositions with seasons: en, l', au

Boules de neige et Jour de l'An Et Bonne Année grand-mère !

= Snowballs and New Year's Day 
and Happy New Year Grandma!
Related lessons:
Compound nouns formed with prepositions à, de, en

Verse 2

C'est l'heure tout est sage,
Et l'ombre danse au coin du feu.
= It's the time when everyone is good,
And the shadow dances near the fire.
Related lessons:
Où = where AND when (relative pronouns)

(repeat chorus)

That’s it! I’m always surprised by just how many lessons there are to be learned from even a simple song – some of them quite advanced. This one, known by heart by practically every child in France, has lessons all the way up to B2!

Enfin, je vous souhaite de la part de tout le monde ici à Kwiziq et French Test de passer un Joyeux Noël et une super Bonne Année!

Author info

Gruff Davies

Despite the very Welsh name, Gruff is actually half French. Nowadays, he's a tech entrepreneur (and some-time novelist) but he used to be a physicist at Imperial College before getting hooked on inventing things. He has a special interest in language learning, speaks five languages to varying degrees of fluency and he often blogs about language learning, science, and technology. As well as co-founding Kwiziq, he is the author the Amazon best-selling SF thriller, The Looking Glass Club and the inventor of the Exertris gaming exercise-bike and Pidgin, a free online tool that makes drawing flow charts and relationship diagrams as quick and easy as describing them in pidgin English.

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