Last Updated: 6 February 2023

Dansons la capucine is a traditional circle dance for children song with lyrics dating from the 18th century.

The story of the song

This children's round was first published by Jean Baptiste Clément in 1868. It is said to have come to him from his grandmother who had lived through the French Revolution.

Indeed, it was originally a revolutionary, parodic and satirical song.
The melody is a version of the refrain of La Carmagnole, a revolutionary song composed in 1792, after the fall of Louis XVI.

Fête de l'Etre Suprême Paris 1794

Fête de l'Etre Suprême Paris, 8th of June 1794

A song that makes fun of the rich

The lyrics show the opposition between the wealth of some and the poverty of others. In fact, the lyrics have a rather bitter meaning. 

In the first few verses, we hear that the narrator is poorer than his neighbour, since she has bread and wine.

Then a fire breaks out, burning down the neighbour's house.

Thus, the narrator rejoices in his neighbour's misfortune.

Therefore, at the end of the song, it is the poor who are happy and the rich unhappy.

What is the 'capucine'?

However, it is not known what 'capucine' refers to. From the original song, we know it replaces the 'carmagnole', the waistcoat worn by workers in Piedmont.

The term "capucine" has an etymology of capuce.

This may be an allusion to the cap-like shape of the flower.

Or it may be an image of the dresses that form a hood when crouching at the end of the circle dance.

What is a circle dance?

The circle dance (une ronde, in French) is a traditional or children's dance in the form of a circle where the dancers usually hold hands.

Dansons la capucine. Photo westend61 via Envato Elements

Photo: westend61 via Envato Elements

Dansons la capucine

Lyrics, music, free download... let's learn more about the popular song:

Dansons la capucine

The lyrics in French

The original song of Dansons la capucine has 4 verses.

Couplet 1

Dansons la capucine

Y’a pas de pain chez nous

Y’en a chez la voisine
Mais ce n’est pas pour nous

You !

Couplet 2

Dansons la capucine
Y'a pas de vin chez nous 

Y'en a chez la voisine
Mais ce n'est pas pour nous

You !

Couplet 3

Dansons la capucine
Y'a pas de feu chez nous 

Y'en a chez la voisine
Mais ce n'est pas pour nous

You !

Couplet 4

Dansons la capucine
Y’a du plaisir chez nous 

On pleure chez la voisine 

On rit toujours chez nous 

Youh !

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

Let's dance the capucine
There's no bread in our house
There's some at the neighbour's
But it's not for us

Verse 2

Let's dance the capucine
There's no wine in our house
There's some at the neighbour's
But it's not for us

Verse 3

Let's dance the capucine
There's no fire in our house
There's some at the neighbour's
But it's not for us

Verse 4

Let's dance the capucine
There's fun at home
There's crying at the neighbour's
We always laugh at our home

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Dansons la capucine © French Moments

French Nursery Rhymes

My challenge for the year 2023 is to publish 80 French Nursery Rhymes lyrics and descriptions (list below). Come back as time goes by to discover the new articles:

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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