Learn French With Love Songs — Part Four!

It’s the small things of everyday life that contribute to building a romantic relationship. Things like:

  • Écrire des mots d’amour (= Writing words of love.)
  • Te faire mourir de rire (= Making you “die of laughter”)
  • Aller chez Ikea (= Going to Ikea)

That’s what the 2006 song La Liste (= the list) by the singer Rose is exploring. And the good news is, she uses a lot of verbs you can use in everyday life and French conversation! Let’s discover some of them, in today’s lesson.

C’est parti .

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The lyrics of this song are essentially a list of French verbs in the infinitive. That’s the tense you would use to talk about activities, in French grammar. Most of them are first group verbs that end in -er.

Rose is talking about finding meaning in everyday life and everyday love – all the little things that come with love and life as a couple. Things you might be doing as well, on a regular basis! Or at least some of them:

Aller à un concert = Going to a concert
Repeindre ma chambre en vert = Painting my room green
Boire de la vodka = Drinking vodka
Aller chez Ikea = Going to Ikea
Mettre un décolleté = Wearing a low-cut top/clothes
Louer un meublé = Renting a furnished apartment
Et puis tout massacrer = And then destroying everything

Un meublé is a furnished apartment that you can rent.

The song then goes:

Pleurer pour un rien = Crying for nothing
Acheter un chien = Buying a dog
Faire semblant d’avoir mal = Pretending like I’m in pain
Et mettre les voiles = And running away
Fumer beaucoup trop = Smoking way too much
Prendre le métro = Taking the metro
Et te prendre en photo = And taking a picture of you

Mettre les voiles literally means “to put on the sails.” It’s a French metaphor that means “to run away, to elope.”

Prendre means “to take.” And, just like in English, it can have many different meanings.

For instance, Prendre le métro means “to take the subway, to ride the subway.” Prendre une photo is for “taking a picture.” And Prendre quelqu’un en photo means “to take a picture of someone.”

Next, the chorus explains what this list is all about :

Jeter tout par les fenêtres = Throwing everything out through the windows
T’aimer de tout mon être = Loving you with all my being
Je ne suis bonne qu’à ça = I’m only good at this
Est-ce que ça te déçoit ? = Are you disappointed?
J’ai rien trouvé de mieux à faire = I didn’t find anything better to do
Et ça peut paraître bien ordinaire = And it can look quite ordinary
Mais c’est la liste des choses que je veux faire avec toi = But it’s the list of the things I want to do with you

So Rose isn’t merely describing random activities! They’re ordinary things she wants to do with her boyfriend.

At that time in the early 2000s, there actually was a trend among French songs about the small joys of everyday life, with singers like Bénabar or Vincent Delerm.

In this song, Rose uses everyday spoken French to make the lyrics sound more intimate. For instance, she eats hers vowels, and “correct French” becomes:

  • de mieuxd’mieux
  • Je veux fairej’veux faire

You’ll find more everyday verbs in the next verse. Pause the video whenever you want, and write down a verb in your notebook that you want to remember and use this new year!

Te faire mourir de rire = Making you “die of laughter”
Aspirer tes soupirs = Breathing in your sighs
M’enfermer tout le jour = Locking myself up the whole day
Écrire des mots d’amour = Writing words of love
Boire mon café noir = Drinking my black coffee
Me lever en retard = Getting up too late
Pleurer sur un trottoir = Crying on a sidewalk

Me serrer sur ton cœur = Clinging tight to your heart
Pardonner tes erreurs = Forgiving your mistakes
Jouer de la guitare = Playing guitar
Danser sur un comptoir = Dancing on a countertop
Remplir un Caddie = Filling up a shopping cart/trolley
Avoir une petite fille = Having a little girl
Et passer mon permis = And getting my driving license

…So which verb did you pick?
Do you enjoy Jouer de la guitare (= playing the guitar)?
Did you notice that un Caddie is a shopping cart, in French?
And that passer son permis is “to get your driver’s license,” le permis de conduire.

She mentions it just after “having a daughter,” so it shows that the list isn’t ordered by importance. It feels as if she’s just thinking all these things in the moment, as they come to her. (How romantic!)

And now, let’s skip the third verse and take a look at the very final lines of this song:

Faire du vélo à deux = Riding a bike together
Se dire qu’on est heureux = Telling each other we’re happy
Emmerder les envieux = And screw the jealous people

Se dire qu’on est heureux is a bit ambiguous here. It can mean “telling each other we’re happy” or “telling ourselves we’re happy.” Which, of course, is slightly different.

But the more interesting piece of French slang here is emmerder les envieux. “Emmerder” is a mild swear word — un gros mot, a bad word that you shouldn’t use if you want to sound elegant. But it’s very often used in everyday spoken French, to be honest!

It can mean “being boring”, “being annoying,” or, in this case, to say “screw you” to some people.

Don’t end your journey in romantic French on this note, though! Instead, discover some other romantic lyrics with my playlist about romantic French songs. You’ll find great lyrics by Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and more – and you can even use them to woo your significant other.

Click on these lessons to dive into more French for romance:

À tout de suite.
I’ll see you in the next video!

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Join the conversation!

  • Incroyable comme vidéo sur la joie d’amour, et sur la belle langue Francaise. Merci.
    J’ai aimé surtout les mots de cette chanson… un liste poétique des actes ordinaires.

  • Bonjour Geraldine. Je suis fan de Edith Piaf pour tout ma vie. J´aime ses chansons et sa histoire.
    Gracias por esta amorosa clase¡

  • Bonjour Geraldine
    I got told off by my Belgian neighbour for using ’emmerder’ (I’d heard it lots of times on French TV). She said women shouldn’t use this word as it was rude!

    • Hi Elizabeth!

      Yeah, it’s a mild swear word. I wouldn’t use it with my parents for example – I would say “embêter” (for “to bother”). In the meaning of “les envieux, je les emmerde” (= to hell with the jealous people), I’d say something like “Je m’en fous des envieux” (= “I don’t give a damn about jealous people,” it’s still slang and technically a swear word but even milder.)

      So using it depends on the context – and I wouldn’t use it with older neighbors. But it shouldn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, obviously!

      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

  • Merci Géraldine c’est très intéressant. J’aime la phrase ‘me lever en retard’ à la cause du Covid!!??
    Bonne journée
    Anne

  • Merci Géraldine, c’est le choix excellent, vos expressions et élocutions. Je crois que c’est la méthode efficace pour compréhension des texts originals. Bonne journée.

  • Bonjour Géraldine,
    merci beaucoup, c’est vraiment une belle chanson, et je trouve tellement de vocabulaire.

  • Bonjour Géraldine, I really like “aspirer tes soupirs” (how romantic !); and the ambiguity of “se dire qu’on est heureux” is just the right amount of sadness! Rose’s everyday language really
    reminds me of Emily Loizeau. Merci.!

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