French Version of Jingle Bells (Vive le Vent), Lyrics and Translation

The French version of Jingle Bells lyrics are completely different

The French version of Jingle Bells, “Vive le Vent” has the same catchy tune and is just as joyous as it is in English, however, the French lyrics and title have nothing to do with the English version. They’re completely different! Check it out!

Translating borrowed Christmas carols

Christmas carols and songs exist in many countries. In Germany, they’re called “Weihnachtslieder”, in France, they’re called  “Les chants de Noël.

Over the years, some Christmas carols have been borrowed and translated from one language to another. 

Sometimes the translated titles and lyrics resemble the original while other times they are completely different.

“O Tanenbaum”—Close match to the original.

For instance, the title of the German Christmas song “O Tannenbaum”, if translated exactly to English would be “O fir tree” however it’s not called that in English. It’s actually called “O Christmas tree”. Not an exact match but it’s pretty close.

In French, the song “O Tannenbaum” is called “Mon beau sapin” which literally means “My beautiful fir tree”. Another close match but not exact.

How to say Christmas tree in French

In France, you can call a Christmas tree “Un sapin de Noël” or “Un arbre de Noël”. The literal translations are respectively “a fir tree” and “a Christmas tree”. 

Jingle Bell lyrics and title in French completely changed.

Jingle Bells, America’s favourite sing-along Christmas song is also popular internationally and there are versions of it in almost every language. What you may not realize however is the translated versions usually have nothing to do with the original English version—except for the tune. The tune is always the same in every language.

In German, there are actually several versions of Jingle bells. There’s the version by Roy Black who wrote: “Ein kleiner weißer Schneemann” (A Little White Snowman) back in 1968, and the 1998 version by Andrew Bond, a Swiss-German who created: “Zimetschtern han i gärn” (I Like Cinnamon Star Cookies).

Vive le Vent (French version of Jingle Bells)

In France, the Jingle Bell song is called “Vive Le Vent” and literally translates to “live the wind” but can also mean “Long live the wind”.

The meaning of Vivre

“Vive” comes from the French verb “Vivre which means (to live).

In French when you say, “Vive (something)”, it can mean anything from “Hooray (something)” to “Long live (something)” depending on the phrase and it can be used for a person, place or thing.

For instance…

  • “Vive la France”: A patriotic French expression which means “Long live France”
  • “Vive les vacances”: Hooray for the holidays!
  • “Vive le roi”: Long live the king!

The French version of Jingle bells was adapted to French by Francis Blanche in 1948 and surprise— it’s extremely popular in France. Maybe not quite as popular as it is in the US and Canada but all French children know the tune and can hum it.

My daughter (pictured below) sings it at her school holiday Christmas show, year after year and it never gets old.

The French version of Jingle Bells lyrics are completely different

Listen to the lyrics of “Vive le Vent,” the French version of Jingle Bells

Just as Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé have all put their own spin on Jingle Bells, many famous singers have done the same for the French version.

My favourite is by Dalida who first sang “Vive le Vent” back in the 60’s. 

Dalida is not French but she was and still is a very iconic singer in France similar to how Julio Iglesios is popular in the US.

Lyrics to the French version of Jingle Bells.

Although the French version’s lyrics don’t match the English version, both versions celebrate winter fun. The French version has references to Father time, New Year’s Day and Baby New Year.

Listen to any song, including Vive le Vent with Amazon Music Unlimited or buy and download the song for around one dollar.

Vive Le Vent (Lyrics)

VIVE LE VENT

Sur le long chemin
Tout blanc de neige blanche
Un vieux monsieur s´avance
Avec sa canne dans la main
Et tout là-haut le vent
Qui siffle dans les branches
Lui souffle la romance
Qu´il chantait petit enfant, oh :

—{Refrain}—
Vive le vent, vive le vent
Vive le vent d´hiver
Qui s´en va sifflant, soufflant
Dans les grands sapins verts…
Oh! Vive le temps, vive le temps
Vive le temps d´hiver
Boule de neige et jour de l´an
Et bonne année grand-mère…

Joyeux, joyeux Noël
Aux mille bougies
Quand chantent vers le ciel
Les cloches de la nuit,
Oh! Vive le vent, vive le vent
Vive le vent d´hiver
Qui rapporte aux vieux enfants
Leurs souvenirs d´hier, oh…

Et le vieux monsieur
Descend vers le village,
C´est l´heure où tout est sage
Et l´ombre danse au coin du feu
Mais dans chaque maison
Il flotte un air de fête
Partout la table est prête
Et l´on entend la même chanson, oh :
–{Refrain}—

Boule de neige et jour de l´an
Et bonne année grand-mère!
Vive le vent d´hiver!

Vive Le Vent (translation)

LONG LIVE THE WIND

Along the long path
Everything is white as snow
An old man advances
With his cane in his hand
And high above the wind
Which whistles in the branches
Blows on him some romance
That he sang as a small child, oh :

—{Chorus}—
Long live the wind, long live the wind
Long live the winter wind
That goes whistling, breathing
Between the big fir trees
Oh! long live time, long live time
Long live the winter time
A snowball and a day of the year
And happy year grand-ma!

Merry, Merry Christmas
To the thousands of candles
Which sing towards the sky
The bells of the night.
Oh long live the wind, long live the wind
Long live the winter wind
Which brings old children
Their memories of yesteryear, oh

And the old man
Goes down towards the village
It’s the time where everything is good
And the shadow dances by the fire
But in every house
There’s a festive spirit in the air
Everywhere the table is ready
And the same song can be heard, oh
—{Chorus}—

Snowball and new year’s day
And happy new year grand-ma!
Long live the winter wind.

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and author of THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE: an expat travel and lifestyle blog featuring destination guides, inspiration, travel tips, personal advice and anecdotes on working, living and playing in France. ( Equal parts weird, wacky and wonderful).