Last Updated: 17 February 2023

Trois jeunes tambours (also known as Les trois tambours) is a traditional French song with lyrics dating from the 18th century.

The story of the song

Trois jeunes tambours was written in 1745 after the Battle of Fontenoy (11 May). It is possible that this marching song was composed by one or two or three authentic regimental drummers.

Battle of Fontenoy by Horace Vernet 1828

Battle of Fontenoy. Painting: Horace Vernet, 1828

This old song was mostly sung in Brittany. The refrain imitates the sound and rhythm of the drum.

A young man asks for the hand of the king's daughter, and then refuses her when he realises that she is granted to him only because he is rich.

Trois jeunes tambours

Trois jeunes tambours

Maria Theresa of Austria

The text refers to the Queen of Hungary, i.e. Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780) and mother of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

Maria Theresia of Austria in 1759

Maria Theresia of Austria in 1759

Trois jeunes tambours

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

Trois jeunes tambours

The lyrics in French

The original song of Trois jeunes tambours has 17 verses.

Couplet 1

Trois jeunes tambours s'en revenaient de guerre (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan.
S'en revenaient de guerre !


Couplet 2

Le plus jeune a dans sa bouche une rose (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan.
Dans sa bouche une rose !


Couplet 3

La fille du roi était à sa fenêtre (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Etait à sa fenêtre !


Couplet 4

Joli tambour, donnez-moi votre rose (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Donnez-moi votre rose !


Couplet 5

Fille du roi, donnez-moi votre cœur (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Donnez-moi votre coeur !


Couplet 6

Joli tambour, demandez à mon père (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Demandez à mon père !


Couplet 7

Sire le roi, donnez-moi votre fille (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Donnez-moi votre fille !


Couplet 8

Joli tambour, tu n'es pas assez riche (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Tu n'es pas assez riche !


Couplet 9

J'ai trois vaisseaux dessus la mer jolie (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Dessus la mer jolie !


Couplet 10

L'un chargé d'or, l'autre de pierreries (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
L'autre de pierreries !


Couplet 11

Et le troisième pour promener ma mie (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Pour promener ma mie !


Couplet 12

Joli tambour, dis-moi quel est ton père (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Dis-moi quel est ton père !


Couplet 13

Sire le roi, c'est le roi d'Angleterre (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
C'est le roi d'Angleterre !


Couplet 14

Et ma mère est la reine de Hongrie (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
La reine de Hongrie !


Couplet 15

Joli tambour, tu auras donc ma fille (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Tu auras donc ma fille !


Couplet 16

Sire le roi, je vous en remercie (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Je vous en remercie !


Couplet 17

Dans mon pays y en a de plus jolies (bis)
Et ri et ran, ran pa ta plan
Y en a de plus jolies !

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

Three young drummers were returning from war (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan.
They were returning from war!


Verse 2

The youngest has a rose in his mouth (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan.
A rose in his mouth!


Verse 3

The king's daughter was at her window (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Was at her window!


Verse 4

Pretty drummer, give me your rose (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Give me your rose!


Verse 5

Daughter of the king, give me your heart (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Give me your heart!


Verse 6

Pretty drummer, ask my father (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Ask my father!


Verse 7

Sire, o king, give me your daughter (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Give me your daughter!


Verse 8

Pretty drummer, you're not rich enough (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
You're not rich enough!


Verse 9

I have three ships on the pretty sea (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa your plan
On the pretty sea!


Verse 10

One loaded with gold, the other with gems (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
The other with gems!


Verse 11

And the third to carry my lady around (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
To carry my lady around!


Verse 12

Pretty drummer, tell me who your father is (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
Tell me who your father is!


Verse 13

Sire the king, it's the king of England (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa your plan
It's the King of England!


Verse 14

And my mother is the Queen of Hungary (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
The Queen of Hungary!


Verse 15

Pretty drummer, you will have my daughter (bis)
Et ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
You'll have my daughter!


Verse 16

Sire the king, I thank you for it (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
I thank you for it!


Verse 17

In my country there are prettier ones (bis)
And ri and ran, ran pa ta plan
There are prettier ones!


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Trois jeunes tambours © 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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