One of the legendary songs in French culture and music is ”Sous le ciel de Paris” or in English, ”Under the sky of Paris”.
It became famous and transcended time not from its original version, but because two very famous singers chose to make a cover out of it: Edith Piaf and Yves Montand. It is considered a classic in French music and one of the most famous songs singing about Paris.
The original version was published in 1951 for a movie also called ”Sous le ciel de Paris”. It was written by Jean Drejac, composed by Hubert Giraud and sung by Jean Brettonière.
The original version:
It started to become more and more popular because of its covers as they were sung on the radio.
The first person to cover it was Jacques Hélian, followed by Claude Evelyne and Jean Marco.
But when Yves Montand and Edith Piaf made their own version, it became a romantic anthem about Paris and France, even though there was 10 years between the two covers.
Edith Piaf’s version helped it become popular oversea, as it was also adapted in English by Kim Ganon. It was called ”Under Paris skies”.
Her French version was published in 1954, and she performed the English one 1956 with great success in Carnegie Hall.
A very famous english cover was pubilshed by Andy Williams in 1960:
The lyrics in French:
Sous le ciel de Paris
S’envole une chanson
Elle est née d’aujourd’hui
Dans le cœur d’un garçon
Sous le ciel de Paris
Marchent des amoureux
Leur bonheur se construit
Sur un air fait pour eux
The lyrics from the English version:
Stranger beware, there’s love in the air under Paris skies
Try to be smart and don’t let your heart catch on fire
Love becomes king the moment it’s spring under Paris skies
Lonely hearts meet somewhere on the street of desire
Parisian love can bloom high in a skylight room
Or in a gay café where hundreds of people can see
I wasn’t smart and I lost my heart under Paris skies
Don’t ever be a heartbroken stranger like me
This actually isn’t at all a translation of the original lyrics, but it is still an adaptation of the same song!
Edith Piaf’s cover is a more romantic, slow, langorous version.
Yves Montand’s is closer to the original, keeping some of the instruments, while still making it his.
Andy William’s version give it a bit of jazz, while keeping some of the romance.
The secret behind the popularity of the song is hiding behind the lyrics, the authenticity of the singers, their love of Paris and of romance.
From the first line we want to keep listening to it. The lyrics are very descriptive and make us travel all the way to France.
At the same time, the tune is quite easy to remember!
The song is still very relevant today, and 5 years ago a newer cover was released by Zaz:
And her version is also very good!