Last Updated: 6 February 2023

Il court il court le furet (also known as Il court le furet) is a traditional French song with lyrics dating from circa 1720.

The song of the ferret

The ferret was traditionally used to hunt rodents near houses and rabbits in burrows.

The ferret was also bred for its fur and as a laboratory animal.

Nowadays it is mainly kept as a pet.

Il court il court le Furet. Photo Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A pet ferret. Photo Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

It could be a mockery song

Because the song is aimed specifically at ladies, and in the eighteenth century only noble women could be called 'Madame', it is sometimes interpreted as a raucous song mocking Cardinal Guillaume Dubois, the chief minister of the regent, Duke Philippe d'Orléans.

Guillaume Dubois in 1723 by Hyacinthe Rigaud

Guillaume Dubois in 1723 by Hyacinthe Rigaud

The Furet Game

There are several games for children based on the rhyme. Most of them are rounds.

Here's one example:

The children make a circle and sing the song while passing an object called a "furet" from hand to hand. During this time, one child sits in the middle of the circle, eyes closed. When one verse and chorus are over, the furet stops. The child in the middle has to say the name of whose holding it so that he/she can take his/her place. The furet can also be passed behind the back, but this is even more difficult!

Il court il court le furet

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

Il court il court le furet

The lyrics in French

The original song of Il court il court le furet has 3 verses and a chorus.

The French lyrics of the nursery rhyme exist in several variations, of which the following one is one of the most common versions.


Il court, il court, le furet,
Le furet du bois, Mesdames,
Il court, il court, le furet,
Le furet du bois joli.

Couplet 1

Il est passé par ici, (bis)
Il repassera par là. (bis)

Couplet 2

Le voici encore ici (bis)
Le voilà maintenant par là. (bis)

Couplet 3

Il est entré par ici (bis)
Il est ressorti par là. (bis)

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:


He runs, he runs, the ferret,
The ferret of the wood, ladies,
He runs, he runs, the ferret,
The ferret of the fair wood.

Verse 1

He's been here, (bis)
He'll come back this way (bis)

Verse 2

Here he is again (bis)
Now he is here (bis)

Verse 3

He came in here (bis)
He came out this way (bis)

Download the Lyrics for FREE!

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Il court, il court, le furet © 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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