Very few traditional French songs have survived. We still have poems by François Villon (15th) Clement Marot, Ronsard, du Bellay (16th century), but almost no traditional songs. Probably because the poems were printed and the songs were not. Those that have survived are generally nursery rhymes. Maybe that is why they survived: mothers or grandmothers would sing the old songs to the babies. Even non french speakers have heard of Alouette, Alouette (Which seems to be Franco-Canadian. I didn’t know!)… Or Il pleut bergère (Written in 1780 by Fabre d’Eglantine, later guillotined). Sur le pont d’Avignon appears to date back to the 14th century.
“On the bridge of Avignon
One dances, one dances, all around.
Gentle men do like this (courtesy)
Fair ladies do like this (ditto)
This version dates from 1939 just before WWII started. It swings! Thanks to Jean Sablon!
Jean Sablon (1906-1994) by Studio Harcourt