Last Updated: 9 March 2023

Sur la route de Louviers is a popular song from the Ile de France region whose origin and author are unknown.

The story of the song

Some people think that Sur la route de Louviers refers to the chores (les corvées) that the inhabitants had to do to build the roads in the 18th century. 

In the 19th century, the song inspired several authors, including Aristide Bruant, who added verses in their own way, sometimes saucy, sometimes more socially critical. The song is said to have been created in the early 19th century.

Where is Louviers?

Louviers is a small town in Normandy, located in the Eure department. The town has some remarkable buildings, such as the 11th-13th century Gothic church of Notre-Dame, and a few manor houses and timber-framed houses.

Louviers © JC Allin - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Half-timbered houses in Louviers © JC Allin - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Louviers - church of Notre-Dame by Theoliane (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Louviers - church of Notre-Dame by Theoliane (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Sur la route de Louviers

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

The lyrics in French

The original song of Sur la route de Louviers has 4 verses.

Couplet 1

Sur la route de Louviers (bis)
Y avait un cantonnier (bis)
Et qui cassait (bis)
Des tas d'cailloux (bis)
Et qui cassait des tas d'cailloux
Pour mettre sur l'passage des roues.

Couplet 2

Un' belle dam' vint à passer (bis)
Dans un beau carrosse doré (bis)
Et qui lui dit (bis)
"Pauv' cantonnier" (bis)
Et qui lui dit "pauv' cantonnier
Tu fais un foutu métier"

Couplet 3

Le cantonnier lui réponds (bis)
"Faut qu' j' nourrissions nos garçons (bis)
Car si j' roulions (bis)
Carrosse comme vous (bis)
Car si j' roulions carrosse comme vous
Je n' casserions point d' cailloux"!

Couplet 4

Cette réponse s' fait remarquer (bis)
Par sa grande simplicité (bis)
C'est c' qui prouve que (bis)
Les malheureux (bis)
C'est c' qui prouve que les malheureux
S'ils le sont c'est malgré eux !

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

On the road to Louviers (bis)
There was a roadman (bis)
And who broke (bis)
A lot of stones (bis)
And he broke a lot of stones
To put in the way of the wheels.

Verse 2

A beautiful lady came to pass (bis)
In a beautiful golden coach (bis)
And who said to him (bis)
"Poor roadman" (bis)
And who said to him "poor roadman
You do a damn job" (bis)

Verse 3

The roadman answers (bis)
"We have to feed our boys (bis)
Because if we drove (bis)
A coach like you (bis)
For if we drove a carriage like you
I won't break any stones"!

Verse 4

This answer stands out (bis)
By its great simplicity (bis)
This is what proves that (bis)
The unfortunate (bis)
That's what proves that the unhappy
If they are, it's in spite of themselves!

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Sur la route de Louviers © 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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