7 February


J'ai du bon tabac is a traditional French song with lyrics dating from the 18th century.

The story of the song

The popular French song attributed to the Abbé de Lattaignant (1697-1779).

The Parisian chansonnier and poet was the youngest member of an aristocratic family. He was a prolific author and added eight verses to the song.

However, in 1733, French composer Michel Corrette (1707-1795) wrote a comic concerto, La Servante au bon tabac. The theme of the third movement is the melody of the nursery rhyme.

Abbot Gabriel-Charles de Lattaignant

Abbot Gabriel-Charles de Lattaignant

The abbot mocking the count!

The last verse mocks the Count of Clermont-Tonnerre:

Ce bon Monsieur de Clermont-Tonnerre

Who was displeased to be singled out

For having written verses that were not very complimentary of him, the abbot missed, in fact, getting a beating.

It was to get even with the Count that the clergyman composed the last two lines of the couplets:

I have good tobacco in my snuff box

I have good tobacco, you won't have any

Tobacco and snuff boxes in the 18th C

To understand the deeper meaning of the song, one must understand the place of tobacco in 18th century society.

At that time, tobacco was enjoyed by the wealthier people who owned snuff boxes.

European snuff boxes are boxes with lids, in which fingers are dipped to take the tobacco.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, snuff boxes were mainly made of gold with precious stones, silver, enamel, mother-of-pearl or porcelain.

Many artists decorated the lids and interiors of snuff boxes.

Snuff box of Carl Ludwig Emmerich (1794) © Ji-Elle - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Snuff box of Carl Ludwig Emmerich (1794) © Ji-Elle - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Let us return to our abbot. We understand how much Clermont-Tonnerre was irritated by the lack of courtesy of the Lattaignant. By publicly taunting him and refusing to let him take his valuable snuffbox!

J'ai du bon tabac

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

J'ai du bon tabac

The lyrics in French

The original song has 2 verses. The original version has 10 verses.

Couplet 1

J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
J'en ai du fin et du bien râpé,
Mais ce n'est pas pour ton vilain nez.
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

Couplet 2

J'ai du bon tabac pour bourrer ma pipe,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.
J'en ai du blonc, du noir et du gris,
Mais je n'en donne qu'à mes amis.
J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière,
J'ai du bon tabac, tu n'en auras pas.

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

I have good tobacco in my snuffbox,
I've got good tobacco, you won't get any.
I've got some fine, grated tobacco,
But it's not for your ugly nose.
I have good tobacco in my snuffbox,
I've got good tobacco, you won't get any.

Verse 2

I have good tobacco to fill my pipe,
I've got good tobacco, you won't get any.
I've got light, dark and grey,
But I only give it to my friends.
I have good tobacco in my snuffbox,
I have good tobacco, you will not have any.

Download the Lyrics for FREE!

No need to type name or email 😀

J'ai du bon tabac © 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:

French Nursery Rhymes Cover by French Moments
French Nursery Rhymes
A la claire fontaine © French Moments
Ah ! dis-moi donc bergère © French Moments
Ah ! Les crocodiles © French Moments
Ah ! vous dirai-je, maman © French Moments
Ainsi font, font, font © French Moments
Alouette gentille alouette © French Moments
Au clair de la lune © French Moments
Au feu les pompiers © French Moments
Au royaume de Diguedondaine © French Moments
Auprès de ma blonde © French Moments
Aux marches du palais © French Moments
Blanc Blanc Blanc belle rose © French Moments
Bon voyage Monsieur Dumollet © French Moments
Buvons un coup ma serpette est perdue © French Moments
C'est la mère Michel © French Moments
C'était Anne de Bretagne © French Moments
Cadet Rousselle © French Moments
Car c’est un bon camarade © French Moments
Chère Élise © French Moments
Chevaliers de la table ronde © French Moments
Colchiques dans les prés © French Moments
Compagnons de la Marjolaine © French Moments
Dame Tartine © French Moments
Dans les prisons de Nantes © French Moments
Dansons la capucine © French Moments
Dodo, l'enfant do © French Moments
En passant par la Lorraine © French Moments
Fais dodo © French Moments
Fleur d’épine © French Moments
Frère Jacques © French Moments
Gentil coquelicot © French Moments
Il court, il court, le furet © French Moments
Il était un petit cordonnier © French Moments
Il était un petit navire © French Moments
Il était une bergère © French Moments
Il pleut, il pleut, bergère © French Moments
J'ai du bon tabac © French Moments
J'ai un gros nez rouge © French Moments
J'fais pipi sur le gazon © French Moments
Je te tiens par la barbichette © French Moments
Joyeux anniversaire © French Moments
La bonne aventure ô gué © French Moments
La danse des canards © French Moments
La légende de saint Nicolas © French Moments
Le bon roi Dagobert © French Moments
Le carillon de Vendôme © French Moments
Le coucou © French Moments
Le facteur n'est pas passé © French Moments
Le fermier dans son pré © French Moments
Le temps des cerises © French Moments
Le temps du muguet © French Moments
Le vieux MacDonald © French Moments
Les filles de La Rochelle © French Moments
Maman les p'tits bateaux © French Moments
Malbrough s'en va-t-en guerre © French Moments
Meunier, tu dors © French Moments
Mignonne allons voir si la rose © French Moments
Mon âne © French Moments
Mon père m'a donné un mari © French Moments
Ne pleure pas Jeannette © French Moments
Nous n'irons plus au bois © French Moments
Ô gai, vive la rose © French Moments
Passe passe passera © French Moments
Pirouette Cacahuète © French Moments
Plantons la vigne © French Moments
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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 the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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