Last Updated: 24 February 2023

Nous n'irons plus au bois is a traditional French song with lyrics dating from the 18th century.

The story of the song

Nous n'irons plus au bois (We won't go to the woods again) is a French children's circle. According to wikipedia, it was created at Christmas 1753 by Madame de Pompadour, for the children of the nearby village, after Louis XV had offered her the Hôtel d'Évreux, which was to become the Élysée Palace.

Marquise de Pompadour

La Marquise de Pompadour by François Boucher

However, other sources indicate that the song goes back much earlier, to the 16th century in particular.

Not a song for children?

However, the children's rhyme has a hidden meaning that is not aimed at children: it denounces in a roundabout way the ban on of some forms of immorality during part of the reign of Louis XIV.

Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye © French Moments

A walk in the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye © French Moments

Nous n'irons plus au bois

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

Nous n'irons plus au bois

The lyrics in French

The original song of Nous n'irons plus au bois has 6 verses and a chorus.

Couplet 1

Nous n’irons plus au bois, les lauriers sont coupés
La belle que voilà, ira les ramasser


Entrez dans la danse, voyez comme on danse,
Sautez, dansez, embrassez qui vous voudrez.

Couplet 2

Et les lauriers du bois les laiss’rons nous faner
Non, chacune à son tour ira les ramasser

Couplet 3

Si la cigale y dort, ne faut pas la blesser
Le chant du rossignol la viendra réveiller

Couplet 4

Et aussi la fauvette avec son doux gosier
Et Jeanne, la bergère, avec son blanc panier,

Couplet 5

Cigale, ma cigale, allons, il faut chanter
Car les lauriers du bois sont déjà repoussés

Couplet 6

Cigale, ma cigale au printemps va chanter
Car les lauriers du bois sont déjà repoussés

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

We won't go to the woods anymore, the laurels are cut
The beautiful one will pick them up


Enter the dance, see how we dance,
Jump, dance, kiss whoever you want.

Verse 2

And the laurels of the wood let us wither
No, each in turn will pick them up

Verse 3

If the cicada sleeps there, don't hurt her
The nightingale's song will wake her up

Verse 4

And also the warbler with her sweet throat
And Jeanne, the shepherdess, with her white basket,

Verse 5

Cicada, my cicada, let's go, we must sing
For the laurels of the wood are already grown

Verse 6

Cicada, my cicada in the spring will sing
For the laurels of the wood are already grown

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Nous n'irons plus au bois © 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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