One of France’s mist loved musicians, Frances Cabrel has enthralled his audience with his great melodies and poetic lyrics. Highly influenced by Dylan, Cabrel adopted a distinctive singing style which accentuates each word and makes the listener pay attention to the poetry in the lyrics. His songs are hence pretty great for French learners to listen to, what with the added benefit of knowing some songs which absolutely enjoy cult status in the French speaking world. Here are four great albums you can kick-start your discovery of Cabrel with.

Les murs de poussière

Francis Cabrel won a song contest in 1974 with his title “Petite Marie” written for his wife.  This success opened the doors to CBS and the rest is history. Three years later, in 1977, the album was released with of course the flagship song, “Petite Marie”.  The album has sold more than 300,000 copies to date. Another firm favorite is “Ma Ville” which is perhaps less known, but just as moving.

Les Chemins de Traverse 
Once you get over the terribly 70s jacket of the album which makes it look as kitsch as it can get, you discover that Cabrel’s third is actually 30 odd minutes of absolutely great music! A resounding success and has sold over 600,000 copies, the album contains the artist’s famous ” Je t’aime à mourir” a song that pretty much every French speaker knows by heart. With all the tracks on the album being completely Cabrel’s, this record,  cemented his status as one of the major singers of French song. “Les Pantins de Napthalene” is another great song from the album. Check out the video (where Cabrel plays with his audience’s love for the song for a good minute before he starts the song ) to get an idea on how popular the song Je t’aime à mourir is amidst the French audience!


Francis Cabrel became a father for the first time in 1986 and took a little break from recording to devote his time to his daughter Aurélie, who would later also start singing, and to his wife.  The result is an album that is even more crafted out than the previous ones with “Sarbacane”. To date, more than two million copies of the album have been sold, which makes it one of the artist’s biggest hits.  Standouts include the songs “Sarbacane” that was written for his daughter, “C’est écrit“, “Animal” or “Tout le monde y pense“. The title “Dormir Debout” pays homage to his friend Daniel Balavoine, who died three years earlier.

Samedi soir sur la terre
Francis Cabrel released his eighth studio album, “Samedi soir sur la Terre”,  five long years later and what a success it was!.  4 million copies sold to make it quite simply the second best-selling album in French music history. The songs that have become cult are numerous, such as “La Corrida” with the chorus in Spanish by Nicolas Reyes from the Gipsy Kings, but also “La cabane du pêcheur“, “Samedi soir sur la Terre” or “October” .  But the most famous song is, of course , “Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerai”, one of his most beautiful love songs and considering that it has 3 tenses in one line, perfect for a quick grammar lesson!

And to leave you on a completely different note here’s a version in Spanish of Je l’aime a mourir by Shakira.

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