The Twelve Days of Christmas in French

The Twelve Days of Christmas song poster by Xavier Romero-FriasI know you’re desperate to sing The 12 Days of Christmas in French, so I have gone through enormous pain and suffering (and four French native speakers) not only to translate the song correctly into French, but to share more than 30 valuable French lessons prompted by this translator’s nightmare of a song.

There are so many gems of knowledge in this all-time Christmas favourite that if you learn it you will become instantly popular and will probably be able to fly on Christmas Day like that snowman. And because I have no shame, I have even sung each line for you so you can hear the correct (*cough*) pronunciation. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Simon Cowell.

Here’s the whole lot for you in a nice printable form, but be sure to click the links for detailed translation and grammar notes.

Les douze jours de Noël

- traduction faite par Gruff Davies

The Twelve Days of Christmas – translated by Gruff Davies

Le premier jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : une perdrix dans un poirier.
(a partridge in a pear tree)

Le deuxième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : deux tourterelles…
(two turtle doves)

Le troisième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : trois Faverolles…
(three French hens – a breed of hen)

Le quatrième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : quatres merles…
(four blackbirds, “colly birds”)

Le cinquième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : cinq anneaux d’or…
(five gold rings)

Le sixième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : six oies pondeuses…
(six geese a-laying)

Le septième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : sept cygnes sur l’eau…
(seven swans a-swimming)

Le huitième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : huit femmes en train de traire…
(eight maids a-milking)

Le neuvième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : neuf jolies danseuses…
(nine ladies dancing)

Le dixième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : dix seigneurs sauteurs…
(ten lords a-leaping)

Le onzième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : onze joueurs de flûte…
(eleven pipers piping… kinda)

Le douzième jour de Noël, mon amour m’a donné : douze joueurs de tambour…
(twelve drummers… one assumes drumming)

(Note: all the lessons, and 400 more, in much greater depth, are available on your site, where you can learn French grammar by taking kwizzes).

Here’s the audio for the twelve days counting all the way back: Les douze jours de Noël

Merry Christmas everyone!

[Many thanks to Cécile, Aurélie, Elodie, Nathalie, Santa, his elves, and Her Majesty’s Interwebs for their help with this most arduous translation task. All the lovely graphics in these posts come from the Twelve Days of Christmas poster by Xavier Romero-Frias]

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Author info

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.

Comments: 12

Siera

10 December 2014

1 replies

Wow, thank you so much for this!! My friends and I in my french class are wanting to perform this at our French convention in February, and your translation is perfect! Thank you for putting so much effort in this!

Gruff Davies

10 December 2014

Aw! that's great to hear! Good luck with the song - if you do perform, do video it and send it in and I'll post it on the blog. Bonne Chance et Joyeux Noël!!!

Ric Blacksten

10 December 2014

Wonderful. Thank you for all the work you put into creating this marvelous presentation of the 12 days of Christmas in French including your singing and all the language notes.

Gruff Davies

11 December 2014

You might also want to learn this: https://www.french-test.com/blog/jingle-bells-french-vive-le-vent/

Siera

12 December 2014

Yeah! Jingle bells! We talked about it in class! I really like that one. My teacher said she doesn't think that we're allowed to record, but she says if we can get away with it then we can try.

Leanne @ Frenglish Learning

29 November 2015

Thank you so much for this! I'm going to use it at our French club this coming week.

Lorena

25 December 2015

Je l'aime! Je vais ecouter cette chansons plusieurs fois. Merci et joyeux Noel.

Malcolm Risk

27 October 2016

Scottish trainee primary school teacher here, on the hunt for resources to combine numeracy and languages. Jackpot. Many thanks, I'll be pushing to get this shoe-horned into the Nativity on my next placement... B¬) Malcolm Risk

netanya

10 December 2016

coolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

Twelve Days of Christmas « Shrine of Dreams

24 December 2016

[…] French. So what about the French hens, three of them? Certainly they were not faverolles, as some suggest, because that bird was not bred until the 1860s. Maybe in the original they were simply […]

Narelle

13 January 2017

1 replies

Love this thank you-what a lot of work! I conduct a not-for-profit choir that sings in French. Would we be able to use your version in performance at Christmas time please?

Gruff Davies

23 January 2017

Bien sûr!

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