Last Updated: 9 February 2023

Le temps des cerises (The time/season of cherries) is a French song that originates from the second half of the 19th century.

The story of the song

The song is a nostalgic reflection on a time of political and social upheaval in France.

The title literally translates to "the time of cherries", which symbolises a period of innocence and joy.

The lyrics of the song evoke images of the beauty and joy of the past and contrast it with the struggles of the present.

Le temps des cerises - French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Local cherries at the market of Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

The authors

Le temps des cerises is a song whose lyrics were written in 1866 by Jean Baptiste Clément and the music composed by Antoine Renard in 1868.

Jean-Baptiste Clément

Jean-Baptiste Clément

Antoine Renard

Antoine Renard

Jean Baptiste Clément wrote this song in 1866, during a trip to Belgium. On his way to Flanders, he stopped at Conchy-Saint-Nicaise. He stopped at a house surrounded by ancient cherry trees, which inspired the author.

Le temps des cerises - Photos of Spring in Alsace - Hirtzbach © French Moments

Cherry tree in blossom, Hirtzbach, Alsace © French Moments

A reminder of the Paris Commune

Written in the 1860s, the song was popularised during the Paris Commune of 1871.

The short-lived Paris Commune was an uprising against the oppressive rule of the French government.

Although written before 1871, the song is considered a call for freedom and speaks of the hope of a better future and the desire for a better life during the difficult times of the Paris Commune.

Paris Commune Place Blanche

Paris Commune - Women fighting in Place Blanche

One of the most recorded songs in France

With almost 100 different interpretations, Le Temps des cerises is one of the most recorded songs in France, and this since the beginning of the phonographic industry (around 1895).

Among the many singers of the song are Tino Rossi, Yves Montand, Juliette Gréco, Charles Aznavour, Nana Mouskouri, Barbara Hendricks,...

Le temps des cerises

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

Le temps des cerises

The lyrics in French

The original song of Le temps des cerises has 4 verses.

Couplet 1

Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,
Et gai rossignol et merle moqueur
Seront tous en fête.
Les belles auront la folie en tête
Et les amoureux du soleil au cœur.
Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises,
Sifflera bien mieux le merle moqueur.

Couplet 2

Mais il est bien court le temps des cerises,
Où l'on s'en va deux cueillir en rêvant
Des pendants d'oreilles,
Cerises d'amour aux roses pareilles
Tombant sous la feuille en gouttes de sang.
Mais il est bien court le temps des cerises,
Pendants de corail qu'on cueille en rêvant.

Couplet 3

Quand vous en serez au temps des cerises,
Si vous avez peur des chagrins d'amour
Évitez les belles.
Moi qui ne crains pas les peines cruelles,
Je ne vivrai point sans souffrir un jour.
Quand vous en serez au temps des cerises,
Vous aurez aussi des peines d'amour.

Couplet 4

J'aimerai toujours le temps des cerises :
C'est de ce temps-là que je garde au cœur
Une plaie ouverte,
Et Dame Fortune, en m'étant offerte,
Ne pourra jamais fermer ma douleur.
J'aimerai toujours le temps des cerises
Et le souvenir que je garde au cœur.

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

When we sing of the cherry season,
And gay nightingale and mockingbird
Will all be in celebration.
The beautiful ones will have madness in their heads
And the sun lovers in their hearts.
When we sing the cherry season,
The mockingbird will whistle much better.

Verse 2

But the cherry season is short,
When we go and pick two in our dreams
Love cherries with roses like them
Falling under the leaf in drops of blood.
But the time for cherries is short,
Coral pendants that you pick while dreaming.

Verse 3

When you are in the season of cherries,
If you are afraid of heartache
Avoid the beautiful ones.
I, who do not fear cruel sorrows,
I shall not live without suffering one day.
When you are in the season of cherries,
You'll have love pains too.

Verse 4

I will always love the season of cherries:
It is from that time that I keep in my heart
An open wound,
And Lady Fortune, being offered to me,
Can never close my pain.
I will always love the season of cherries
And the memory I keep in my heart.

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Le temps des cerises © 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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