french love poems

10 French Love Poems

What’s even more romantic than a love poem? That’s right: a French love poem.

French is known as the language of love, so it only makes sense that French poetry should live up to that reputation. 

This post will introduce you to ten beautiful French love poems and their translations, a bit of analysis and some tips on learning French through poetry!


1. “Pour toujours !” — Forever!

Author: François Coppée

Year: 1892

Read it here

L’espoir divin qu’à deux on parvient à former
Et qu’à deux on partage,
L’espoir d’aimer longtemps, d’aimer toujours, d’aimer
Chaque jour davantage ;

Le désir éternel, chimérique et touchant,
Que les amants soupirent,
A l’instant adorable où, tout en se cherchant,
Leurs lèvres se respirent ;

English Translation:

The divine hope that together we manage to form
And that together we share,
The hope of loving long, loving forever, of loving
Each day more;

The eternal desire, chimeric and touching
That the lovers sigh,
At the adorable moment when, all search for each other,
Their lips breathing;

This poem by François Coppée is a traditionally romantic poem that uses themes of longing in its language.

Love here is presented as something that endures beyond time, lasting well past the deaths of both parties involved.

Although more traditional in its use of the language, this poem talks about love in a timeless, classic way.

2. “À deux beaux yeux” — Two beautiful eyes

Author: Théophile Gautier

Year: 1838

Read it here

Vous avez un regard singulier et charmant ;
Comme la lune au fond du lac qui la reflète,
Votre prunelle, où brille une humide paillette,
Au coin de vos doux yeux roule languissamment ;

Ils semblent avoir pris ses feux au diamant ;
Ils sont de plus belle eau qu’une perle parfaite,
Et vos grands cils émus, de leur aile inquiète,
Ne voilent qu’à demi leur vif rayonnement.

English Translation:

You have a singular and charming look;
Like the moon at the bottom of a lake that reflects her,
Your apple, where a damp glitter shines,
At the corner of your sweet eyes rolls languidly;

They appear to have caught her diamond fire;
They are of more beautiful water than a perfect pearl,
And your long eyelashes, of their worried wing,
Don’t see half their brightness.

Penned by French poet Théophile Gautier, “Two Beautiful Eyes” is an ode to…you guessed it, a lover’s pair of eyes. 

The poem uses a wide range of descriptive and creative language to express just how beautiful the writer finds his lover’s eyes to be.

3. “Lise” — Lise

Author: Victor Hugo

Year: 1856

Read it here

J’avais douze ans ; elle en avait bien seize.
Elle était grande, et, moi, j’étais petit.
Pour lui parler le soir plus à mon aise,
Moi, j’attendais que sa mère sortît ;
Puis je venais m’asseoir près de sa chaise
Pour lui parler le soir plus à mon aise.

Que de printemps passés avec leurs fleurs !
Que de feux morts, et que de tombes closes !
Se souvient-on qu’il fut jadis des cœurs ?
Se souvient-on qu’il fut jadis des roses ?
Elle m’aimait. Je l’aimais. Nous étions
Deux purs enfants, deux parfums, deux rayons.

English Translation:

I was twelve years old, she was sixteen.
She was tall and me, I was short.
To talk to her at night more at ease,
Me, I would wait for her mother to leave;
Then I would come to sit next to her chair
To talk to her at night more at ease.

What spring past with their flowers!
So many dead fires, and so many closed graves!
Does anyone remember that he was once hearts?
Does anyone remember that he was once flowers?
She loved me. I loved her. We were
Two pure children, two perfumes, two rays.

One of the most celebrated French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote this tale of first love, told from the perspective of a young boy who has now become a man.

The poem looks back in reflection on the memories the speaker has of the girl he loved, who was older than he.

Hugo is an extremely skilled wordsmith, so pay attention to his incredible play on words within this poem.

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4. “Nous dormirons ensemble” — We Will Sleep Together

Author: Louis Aragon

Year: 1964

Read it here

Que ce soit dimanche ou lundi
Soir ou matin minuit midi
Dans l’enfer ou le paradis
Les amours aux amours ressemblent
C’était hier que je t’ai dit
Nous dormirons ensemble.

C’était hier et c’est demain
Je n’ai plus que toi de chemin
J’ai mis mon cœur entre tes mains
Avec le tien comme il va l’amble
Tout ce qu’il a de temps humain
Nous dormirons ensemble.

English Translation:

Whether it’s Sunday or Monday
Evening or morning, midnight or noon
In hell or heaven
Love resembles love
It was yesterday that I told you
We will sleep together.

It was yesterday and it’s tomorrow
I have no path but you
I put my heart between your hands
With yours as it goes amble
All that he has of human time
We will sleep together.

A love poem by Louis Aragon, “We Will Sleep Together” describes the strong bond formed between a couple.

Mentioning the potential obstacles that could come between them, the poem focuses on how the relationship can last through the hardest of times. Despite whatever else might go on in the world the author claims that nous dormirons ensemble (we’ll sleep together, and in this case the author really does mean sleep).

5. “Sensation” — Sensation

Author: Arthur Rimbaud

Year: 1870

Par les soirs bleus d’été, j’irai dans les sentiers,
Picoté par les blés, fouler l’herbe menue :
Rêveur, j’en sentirai la fraîcheur à mes pieds.
Je laisserai le vent baigner ma tête nue.

Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien :
Mais l’amour infini me montera dans l’âme,
Et j’irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohémien,
Par la Nature, – heureux comme avec une femme.

English Translation:

By the blue nights of summer, I’ll go on the trails,
Tickled by the wheat, trample the small grass:
Dreamy, I will feel the freshness at my feet.
I will let the wind bathe my bare head.

I will not speak, I will think of nothing:
But the infinite love will rise in my soul,
And I will go far, very far, like a gypsy,
By nature, happy as with a woman.

Written by celebrated French writer Arthur Rimbaud, “Sensation” takes on a unique perspective of love that admires nature rather than a romantic relationship.

The poem describes the natural environment in adoration as the speaker takes an evening stroll through corn fields. The romantic tone and descriptive language paints a beautiful image of Mother Nature, sure to inspire your own affection for the Earth.

6. “Mignonne, allons voir si la rose” — Sweetheart, Let’s See if the Rose

Author: Pierre de Ronsard

Year: 1553

Read it here

Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avoit desclose
Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil,
A point perdu ceste vesprée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
Et son teint au vostre pareil.

Las ! voyez comme en peu d’espace,
Mignonne, elle a dessus la place
Las ! las ses beautez laissé cheoir !
Ô vrayment marastre Nature,
Puis qu’une telle fleur ne dure
Que du matin jusques au soir !

English Translation:

Sweetheart, let’s see if the rose
Who this morning unfurled
Her dress of crimson to the sun,
Has lost at evening
The folds of her crimson dress,
And her color at the same rate.

Alas! See how in a little bit of space,
Sweetheart, she has the place.
Alas! Weary of its beauties she let fall!
Oh, truly cruel Mother Nature,
That such a flower doesn’t last
From morning to evening!

“Sweetheart, Let’s See if the Rose” is a poem written by Pierre de Ronsard that uses nature as a way of talking about romantic love. 

Unlike other poems that may talk about love as infinitely lasting, de Ronsard looks at the fleeting nature of beauty and how you must seize it when you still have it.

“Mignonne, allons voir si la rose” follows an AABCCB structure, which can make for a great learning challenge that helps you really think about how the structure contributes to the overall aesthetic of the poem. 

7. “Le pont Mirabeau” — Mirabeau Bridge

Author: Guillaume Apollinaire

Year: 1912

Read it here

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
Tandis que sous
Le pont de nos bras passe
Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse

English Translation:

Under the Mirabeau Bridge there flows the Seine
Must I recall
Our loves recall how then
After each sorrow joy came back again

Let night come on bells end the day
The days go by me still I stay

Hands joined and face to face let’s stay just so
While underneath
The bridge of our arms shall go
Weary of endless looks the river’s flow

“Mirabeau Bridge” is a poem written by Guillaume Apollinaire is a poignant exploration of love and the passage of time.

Set against the backdrop of the Mirabeau Bridge in Paris, the poem reflects on the transient nature of relationships as the waters of the Seine flow beneath. Through vivid imagery and melancholic tones, Apollinaire captures the essence of love’s endurance amidst the inevitable currents of change.

8. “Les Pas” — The footsteps

Author: Paul Valéry

Year: 1871

Read it here

Tes pas, enfants de mon silence,
Saintement, lentement placés,
Vers le lit de ma vigilance
Procèdent muets et glacés.

Personne pure, ombre divine,
Qu’ils sont doux, tes pas retenus !
Dieux !… tous les dons que je devine
Viennent à moi sur ces pieds nus !

English Translation:

Your footsteps, children of my silence,
Saintly, slowly placed
Towards the bed of my watchfulness,
Approach, muted and frozen.

Pure one, divine shadow,
How gentle, your cautious steps are!
Gods! …all the gifts that I can guess
Come to me on those naked feet!

“Les Pas” by Paul Valéry is a lyrical ode to the intimate moments shared between lovers. Each footstep described in the poem symbolizes the journey of passion and connection between two souls.

Valéry’s poetic language delicately portrays the tenderness and intensity of love as it unfolds step by step, leaving an indelible mark on the path of the heart.

9. “À une passante” — To a passer by

Author: Charles Baudelaire

Year: 1857

Read it here

La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait.
Longue, mince, en grand deuil, douleur majestueuse,
Une femme passa, d’une main fastueuse
Soulevant, balançant le feston et l’ourlet;

Agile et noble, avec sa jambe de statue.
Moi, je buvais, crispé comme un extravagant,
Dans son oeil, ciel livide où germe l’ouragan,
La douceur qui fascine et le plaisir qui tue.

English Translation:

The deafening street around me roared.
Tall, slim, in deep mourning, majestic grief,
A woman passed, lifting and swinging
With a pompous gesture the hem and flounces of her skirt,

Swift and noble, with statuesque limb.
As for me, I drank, twitching like a crazy man,
From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born,
The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills,

“À une passante” by Charles Baudelaire is a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of fleeting desire and unrequited love. The poem captures the speaker’s chance encounter with a mysterious woman in the bustling streets of Paris.

Through evocative imagery and vivid descriptions, Baudelaire explores themes of longing and longing as the speaker yearns for a deeper connection with the passing stranger.

10. “Apparition” — Apparition

Author: Stéphane Mallarmé

Year: 1884

Read it here

La lune s’attristait. Des séraphins en pleurs
Rêvant, l’archet aux doigts, dans le calme des fleurs
Vaporeuses, tiraient de mourantes violes
De blancs sanglots glissant sur l’azur des corolles.

—C’était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser
S’enivrait savamment du parfum de tristesse
Que même sans regret et sans déboire laisse
La cueillaison d’un Rêve au cœur qui l’a cueilli.

J’errais donc, l’œil rivé sur le pavé vieilli,
Quand avec du soleil aux cheveux, dans la rue
Et dans le soir, tu m’es en riant apparue
Et j’ai cru voir la fée au chapeau de clarté
Qui jadis sur mes beaux sommeils d’enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d’étoiles parfumées.

English Translation:

The moon grew sad, and weeping seraphim,
Musing among the vaporous flowers aswim,
With slow bows from the sobbing viols drew
White tears that sank in their corónals blue.

It was the blesséd day of your first kiss.
My reverie, eager with new miseries,
Was all a-swoon with perfume of shy grief
That leaves the heart to gather its own sheaf,
And frets not, nor yet sickens of its prize.

I wandered, and the worn way held my eyes
When in the street I saw your sun-girt hair
And you all smiling in the twilit air.
I took you for that elf who, crowned with beams,
Once passed before me in my childish dreams,
And shed white posies of sweet-smelling flow’rs
Star-like for tiny hands in snowy show’rs.

“Apparition” by Arthur Rimbaud is a mesmerizing exploration of love’s transcendent power. Through surreal and vivid imagery, Rimbaud evokes the ethereal presence of a beloved figure who haunts the speaker’s dreams and desires.

The poem’s dreamlike quality and enigmatic symbolism invite readers to ponder the nature of love and longing, as the apparition lingers in the depths of the poet’s imagination.

How to Get the Most out of French Love Poetry

Learn native terms of affection

If you want to read French love poems, it’s a good idea to know some French terms of affection so you can understand the poems.

Here are some of the most common terms you might run into:

Mon amour  My love

Ma biche  My doe

Mon canard  My duck

Mon/ma chéri(e)  My dear

Mon chou  My cabbage

Mon cœur  My heart

Mon loulou  My little one

Mon/ma grand(e)  My big guy/girl

Ma puce  My flea

Mon trésor  My treasure

While many terms of affection are meant to work in the romantic sense, you might often hear them used between parents and their children, too. 

Learn the different uses of aimer

One of the biggest confusions between the French and English languages is how and when to use the verb aimer (to like/to love).

If you follow aimer with a person, it means that you love them or you’re in love with them. J’aime ma sœur means “I love my sister” and Il aime Chloe means “He is in love with Chloe.”

If you want to say that you like someone, then you can pair aimer with an adverb in order to weaken its meaning.

Adverbs like bien (good/well) make aimer less strong, so if you say Je t’aime bien, it means “I like you.” Beaucoup (a lot) also has this effect, so Je t’aime beaucoup means “I really like you,” not “I really love you.”

Spotting the different uses of aimer can help you get to the heart of French love poetry and understand the type of relationship being presented.

If the writer is qualifying the verb with an adverb, it could be a case of unrequited or doomed love. If they are declaring their love, they will not use any additional language around the verb: Je t’aime will say it all!

Spotting these subtle differences can really help you get to the heart of the poetic matter.

Listen to love songs

Songs are poems themselves, and French culture is full of love poems in song form!

If you’re learning French using French love songs for listening exercises can be a great way to hear how terms of affection might be spoken aloud and will enable you to take your learning with you on the go.

Buy a book of love poetry

If you really want to focus on love poetry, buying an entire book of it will serve you well.

Working through the texts of one writer in particular can be a great way of understanding style and tone, making translation much easier.

Once you pick up on specific turns of phrase that a writer may use, you will be able to understand more of their work with much greater ease!

Read the poems out loud

If you read a poem out loud, you will be able to better understand the emotion and flow of the poem. 

This is also great speaking and pronunciation practice if you’re trying to learn the French language.

Annotate and take notes

If you are trying to learn French and there are certain words and phrases you don’t understand, I’d recommend looking them up and writing them in the margin. 

You can also write any analytical notes to help you grasp the literary aspects of the poems.

Make flashcards

If you’re a French learner, you can take those words and phrases that you had to look up and turn them into a flashcard deck so you can study them later and really get a grasp of their meaning!

Explore More French Poetry

If this post has whetted your appetite for French poetry, we’ve got you covered!

Now that you’ve seen the beauty of French love poems, you know why French is the language of romance!

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