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Happy Birthday Song in French: 4 Song Versions + Bonus Vocabulary

Did you know that the French sing “Joyeux anniversaire” (“Happy Birthday”) not just for celebrations, but also when something goes wrong in a public place?

I was sitting in a trendy Parisian bar one day. The lights suddenly went out, and the customers immediately started belting the song.

In addition to the many occasions for the “Happy Birthday” song in French, there are also several variations of the tune.

Some of the versions are great for practicing French pronunciation of difficult letter combinations. Others are fantastic ways to brush up on different grammar lessons.

So in this post, you’ll learn four versions plus useful words for birthdays and celebrations.


French Birthday Song 1: “Joyeux anniversaire”

“Joyeux anniversaire” is the simplest and probably most commonly sung version of the “happy birthday” song in French, which makes it the perfect one to learn first.

It is extremely similar to its English counterpart, with the same basic structure and tune. The lyrics and their translation are as follows:

Joyeux anniversaire
Joyeux anniversaire
Joyeux anniversaire (nom de la personne fêtée)
Joyeux anniversaire

Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday (name of the person being celebrated)
Happy birthday

Joyeux can be used in place of “joyful,” “merry” or “cheerful” in addition to “happy,” depending on the context. French speakers also occasionally substitute bon (good) for joyeux in this version.

It’s also worth talking about the word anniversaire (birthday). While it is most commonly used to talk about one’s birthday, it can also denote “anniversary” if you turn it into a phrase with context.

For example:

Notre anniversaire de marriage — our wedding anniversary

l’anniversaire de la Bataille de Waterloo — the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

In regards to pronunciation, this song can help you practice sounds that the letter combinations eux and oy make in French, as in the word joyeux. Both sounds can be a bit tougher for language learners, so pay special attention to them.

You will also need to form a liaison between the words joyeux and anniversaire, which is a great way for French learners to develop this habit.

Essentially, a liaison is when you pronounce the ending consonant of one word immediately before the following word’s vowel sound.

French Birthday Song 2: “Joyeux anniversaire, heureux anniversaire”

This French version of “Happy Birthday” has more in-depth lyrics.

The tune is the same traditional one we all know and love, and the song and its translation go as follows:

Joyeux anniversaire
Heureux anniversaire
Tous nos vœux sont sincères
Pour ton anniversaire
Tes amis aujourd’hui
Se sont tous réunis
Ton bonheur on l’espère
Pour ton anniversaire

Joyful birthday
Happy birthday
All of our most sincere wishes
For your birthday
Your friends today
Are all gathered
We wish for happiness
For your birthday

This version is a great way to continue practicing French liaisons, as you will need to make them when you say:

joyeux anniversaire — joyful birthday

heureux anniversaire — happy birthday

ton anniversaire — your birthday

tes amis — your friends

Aside from liaisons, you will also find yourself exposed to a lot of French possessives like nos vœux (our wishes), ton anniversaire (your birthday), tes amis (your friends) and ton bonheur (your happiness).

French Birthday Song 3: Bon anniversaire, nox vœux les plus sincères”

Though it may look similar to the above version, this “Happy Birthday” song has some very different lyrics:

Bon anniversaire, nos vœux les plus sincères
Que ces quelques fleurs vous apportent le bonheur
Que l’année entière vous soit douce et légère
Et que l’an fini, nous soyons tous réunis
Pour chanter en choeur “Bon anniversaire”

Happy birthday, our most sincere wishes
That these few flowers will bring you happiness
That the entire year will be sweet and light for you
And that at the end of the year, we will all be gathered
To sing together “Happy birthday”

First off, this song gives you a great guide to the pronunciation of words with –ère, like sincères (sincere), entière (entire) and légère (light).

Secondly, you will start to get an idea of when and how to use the subjunctive tense, which is typically the most difficult one for learners.

For example, both these phrases use the subjunctive form of être (to be):

vous soit douce et legère — it will be sweet and light for you

nous soyons tous réunis — we will all be reunited

Lastly, you will learn some very useful vocabulary like apporter (to carry), le bonheur (happiness) and les vœux (wishes).

French Birthday Song 4: Bonne fête à toi”

This final version is sung to the traditional birthday tune and is actually the québécois (Quebec) French “Happy Birthday” song.

It is very basic and goes as follows:

Bonne fête à toi
Bonne fête à toi
Bonne fête à (nom de la personne fêtée)
Bonne fête à toi

Good party for you
Good party for you
Good party for (name of the person being celebrated)
Good party for you

First off, this version is great for gaining exposure to québécois French, which is a good idea, as it has over six million speakers and is an important part of the language not to be overlooked.

Secondly, it is worth noting why one uses bonne fête (good party), rather than bon like in bon anniversaire (good birthday).

The reason is simple: You must remember to make your adjective (in this case, bon) agree with the gender it is describing.

Here, anniversaire is masculine and fête is feminine, so you must change bon accordingly.

Lastly, it is important to note that fête can be used to denote “party,” “festival” or “holiday” depending on the context. For example:

la fête de la Toussaint — All Saint’s Day

More French Birthday Words and Phrases

To wrap things up, take a look at the following useful birthday words and phrases.

Felicitations ! Congratulations!

Quel age avez-vous ? / Quel age as-tu ? — How old are you? (formal/informal)

C’est quand vôtre anniversaire ? — When is your birthday?

Meilleurs vœux ! — Best wishes!

L’invitation — the invitation

La gâteau — the cake

Le cadeau — the present

Célebrer — to celebrate

Fêter — to party

Now that you’ve learned a handful of words surrounding festivities in French, don’t forget to put them into practice. This isn’t just for singing a song correctly—it’s about improving your French speaking skills as a whole.

There are plenty of French audio and video clips online you can practice with that let you see how native speakers use them in context.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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With this knowledge, you’re now ready to attend a French birthday party—or just sing when the lights go out.

Let the good times roll!

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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