Last Updated: 7 March 2023

Le carillon de Vendôme is a French nursery rhyme from the 15th century, in the form of a canon. It takes its name from the carillon (a set of bells used as a musical instrument), and from the town of Vendôme.

The story of the song

The song was created in the kingdom of France to describe the last possessions of the dauphin Charles in 1420.

In the 15th century, during the Hundred Years' War, the dauphin Charles, having been disinherited following the Treaty of Troyes signed in 1420, found himself in possession of the towns of Orléans, Beaugency, Cléry, Vendôme and Bourges.

What today has become a children's song describes this state of affairs.

Orleans Cathedral. Photo RossHelen via Envato Elements

Orleans Cathedral. Photo RossHelen via Envato Elements

The four towns of the song

Orléans, Beaugency, Cléry and Vendôme are four communes in the present-day Centre-Val de Loire region and the former province of Orléanais. Notre-Dame de Cléry refers to the Notre-Dame de Cléry-Saint-André basilica (département of Loiret).

Château de Vendôme © French Moments

View of Vendôme from the castle © French Moments

  • In Vendôme, in Loir-et-Cher, the song is heard every hour from 7 am to 9pm, preceding the strokes of the Saint-Martin clock.
  • In Beaugency, it is played from the Saint-Firmin bell tower three times a day, at 8.10 am, 12.10 pm and 7.10 pm.
  • In Cléry-Saint-André, it is played at 7.00 am, morning and evening, as well as at noon, by the bells of Notre-Dame de Cléry.
Beaugency Clocher Saint-Firmin © Patrick Rouzet - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Beaugency - Clocher Saint-Firmin © Patrick Rouzet - licence [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Dauphin, future Charles VII

Charles VII, the "petit roi de Bourges" (little king of Bourges), had several other territories of greater importance than those listed in the song. 

Charles VII

Charles VII

In addition to Bourges, capital of the loyal duchy of Berry, there was also Poitiers, capital of the duchy of Aquitaine, where the dauphin's parliament was based, and Chinon, the vast fortress where Joan of Arc recognised him.

Bourges Cathedral by Renaud MAVRÉ (public domain) from Wikimedia Commons

The cathedral of Bourges by Renaud MAVRÉ - Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Le carillon de Vendôme

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

Le carillon de Vendôme

The lyrics in French

The original song of Le carillon de Vendôme has 2 verses, however it is the first one that is best known.

Couplet 1

Mes amis, que reste-t-il ?
À ce Dauphin si gentil ?
Orléans, Beaugency,
Notre-Dame de Cléry,
Vendôme, Vendôme !


Couplet 2

Les ennemis ont tout pris
Ne lui laissant par mépris
Qu'Orléans, Beaugency,
Notre-Dame de Cléry,
Vendôme, Vendôme !

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

My friends, what is left?
To this kindly Dauphin?
Orléans, Beaugency,
Notre-Dame de Cléry,
Vendôme, Vendôme!


Verse 2

The enemies have taken everything
Leaving him in contempt
Only Orléans, Beaugency,
Notre-Dame de Cléry,
Vendôme, Vendôme!

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Le carillon de Vendôme © 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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