Last Updated: 17 February 2023

Promenons-nous dans les bois (also known as Loup y es-tu ?) is a traditional French song with lyrics dating from the 17th century.

The Big Bad Wolf

The song refers to the wolf getting ready to hunt for little children.

Le grand méchant loup (the Big Bad Wolf) is a traditional fairy tale character who appears in many folk tales, such as some of Aesop's fables and Grimm's tales.

Promenons-nous dans les bois (Loup y es-tu)

The game "Loup, y es-tu?"

The song can be adapted to an outdoor game. At least two players are needed, a wolf and a walker.

A nearby place is designated where the wolf is hiding (often a tree or a wall, the important thing is not to be seen by the walkers, although they know the hiding place).

The walkers (all the other players) stand dispersed, move around and sing the beginning of the rhyme within a limited place called "the wood".

The wolf replies "I am putting on (the outfit of his choice)", the walkers repeat the rhyme.

The wolf comes out of his hiding place whenever he wants, necessarily after the questions, saying "I'm coming... Here I am...".

The suspense of the game!

The suspense lies in the fact that he can come out after the first suit as well as after the seventh. Once out in the open, the wolf tries to catch the walkers. 

For the captives, the game is over. The walkers can take refuge outside the wood that was marked out at the beginning of the game. While the rhyme is being sung, all the walkers must be in the wood.

The winner is the last free walker.

The wolf in France

The wolf has left its mark on French culture, for example through the Beast of Gévaudan affair, and through tales and legends such as Little Red Riding Hood, the Green Wolf of Jumièges, and many others.

Wolf hunting in France was first institutionalised by Charlemagne between 800 and 813, when he created the louveterie, a special corps of wolf hunters. The louveterie was abolished after the French Revolution in 1789, but re-established in 1814. In 1883, up to 1,386 wolves were killed, and many more were poisoned.

By 1940, it had disappeared completely from France and most of its neighbouring countries.

The wolf is coming back!

At the end of the 20th century, the wolf reappeared naturally due to the extension of Italian populations on French territory. The first two wolves were officially spotted on 5 November 1992 in the Alpes-Maritimes, in the Mercantour National Park.

The presence of the wolf in the Vosges mountains was attested in 2011.

In 2019 the population has reached 530 wolves in France.

Wolf in winter

Wolf in winter (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Promenons-nous dans les bois

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

Promenons-nous dans les bois

The lyrics in French

The original song of Promenons-nous dans les bois has as many verses as the number of clothes and accessories you want.


Promenons-nous dans les bois
Pendant que le loup n'y est pas
Si le loup y était
Il nous mangerait
Mais comme il n'y est pas
Il n' nous mangera pas

Loup, y es-tu ?
Que fais-tu ?
Entends-tu ?


— Je mets ma chemise.

— Je mets ma culotte.

— Je mets ma veste.

— Je mets mes chaussettes.

— Je mets mon pantalon.

— Je mets mes bottes.

— Je mets mon chapeau.

— Je prends mon fusil.

— J’arrive !

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:


Let's walk in the woods
While the wolf is away
If the wolf was there
He'd eat us
But since he's not there
He won't eat us

Wolf, are you there?
What are you doing?
Do you hear?


- I'm putting on my shirt.

- I'm putting on my panties.

- I'm putting on my jacket.

- I'm putting on my socks.

- I'm putting on my trousers.

- I'm putting on my boots.

- I put on my hat.

- I take my rifle.

- I'm coming!

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Promenons-nous dans les 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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