Last Updated: 8 February 2023

Le coucou (also known as Dans la forêt lointaine) is a lovely nursery rhyme for small children. It tells the story of a cuckoo that sings with an owl in a French forest.

About the song

Unfortunately, neither the author nor the composer of the song is known. That's why we don't know much about its story.

Anyway, the rhyme is very short and very fun to sing. Especially small children like to sing it.

Le coucou - Forest in France - Semnoz, Annecy © French Moments

The colours of autumn in a forest in France near Annecy © French Moments

Cuckoo and Peek-a-boo

The song's lyrics play on the homonymy of two words:

  • le coucou (cuckoo, the bird)
  • coucou ! (peek-a-boo! or hello!)

Another French word, le coucou means cowslip (which is a flower).

Le coucou des bois © French Moments

Coucous des bois © French Moments

Le coucou

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

The lyrics in French

The original song of Le coucou has 2 verses. This rhyme can be sung as a canon in four voices if the last two lines are repeated.

Couplet 1

Dans la forêt lointaine

On entend le coucou

Du haut de son grand chêne

Il répond au hibou

Couplet 2

Coucou, coucou

On entend le coucou

Coucou, coucou

On entend le coucou

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

In the distant forest
We hear the cuckoo
From the top of his great oak
He answers the owl

Verse 2

Cuckoo, cuckoo
We hear the cuckoo
Cuckoo, cuckoo
We hear the cuckoo

Download the Lyrics for FREE!

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Le coucou © 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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