Douce France. (Même pas peur)

Douce France

Cher pays de mon enfance…


Sweet France, dear (beloved) country of my childhood. It is an old song by Charles Trenet. Written in 1943, right during World War II, and occupation, this song possibly embodies all the virtues of France. Virtues in the Latin sense, not values, an ambiguous word too… “galvaudé” (overused)? Values tend to shrink to every speaker’s personal or political intentions. One’s values are another’s vices. Virtues are universal: courage, compassion, bravery, for instance, are virtues. And as such are universal. (Only the Universal matters: Hannah Arendt).

The origin of the words “Dulce France” go back to 1080, in la Chanson de Roland, Roland’s song, a somewhat fictional account of the death of Roland, a “nephew” of Charlemagne, Charles the great, the first Frank emperor. Roland and his soldiers fall in an ambush, and they fight to the last. And as they die, sword in hand, rRemembering the sweetness of France.

“Douce France”? As in January my dear compatriots have surprised me again. The French are a weird bunch. We have waged war for 1500 years. So have the  Brits, and the Austrians, later the Spaniards, the Germans, the Russians. Even the Swedes, now one the most peaceful nations have, in their time been fearful warriors. Which makes me wonder whether War might be the destiny of Mankind. (and allow to say Mankind, not the more PC, Humankind. War is more a “man” thing. At least half the human population is not so keen on war)

Then came WWII. With its 60 million dead, plus change. And it seemed that all the above “warriors”, once they brushed the dust from their clothes and looked around at the ruins from London to Le Havre to Berlin, to Stalingrad, sort of woke up and said. “Okay. That’s it. Can’t do that no more.” Then the French and the Germans started the Coal and steel community which gave way to the European Union. Let us all remember that: the EU’s sole purpose was – and should remain – to avoid war “forever”. And it worked. More or less. My brothers and I are the first sons in my family (traced back to the the 1400’s in a tiny town in Flanders) never to have gone to war.

So, we, the French are a weird bunch? Yes. Ask any tourist about the abruptness of Parisian waiters and other “natives”. A bit dry. A sense of humour difficult to grasp if you don’t “do” the language.  A curious mixture of saxon sense of order and mediterranean taste for the good life.

“Douce France, as a song is a good example of the French mentality. An attachment to roots, to the good things of the land, to a “douceur de vivre”. Listen to Charles Trenet’s version. Link below. If you don’t “do french”, please Google the translation.

Okay. Let’s not be lazy. here’s the english translation. Every word counts (Don’t skip)

Sweet France

Familiar memories
Come back to my mind
I recall my black blouse
When I was a schoolboy
On the way to school
I sang aloud
Ballads without lyrics
Old songs from the past

Sweet France
Dear country of my childhood
Cradled in tender carefreeness
I have kept you in my heart!
My village with the bell tower and with quiet houses
Where children of my age
Have shared my joy
Yes, I love you
And i give you this poem
Yes, I love you
In good times and in bad (in joy or in pain )
Sweet France
Dear country of my childhood
Cradled in tender carefreeness
I have kept you in my heart

I have known landscapes
And these wonderful suns
On distant journeys
Far away under other skies
But how much I prefer
My blue sky, my horizon
My main road and my river
My meadow and my house.


Why have my compatriots surprised me again? In January, after the execution of pencil-armed cartoonists by AK-47 armed delusional cowards, the reaction was one of measure. No hatred. No or very limited incidents against the immigré population. This time, on Novemebr 13th hundreds of people of all hue and colour were executed again. Where? In very selected places: a concert hall, a soccer stadium, restaurants. Places where music sounded, voices laughed, wine clanked in glasses. Men and women, young and old, white, brown and black were killed. French, immigrés and foreigners. They were just having fun. Living the “Sweet life of Douce France”. The obvious reaction could have been rage. A call for revenge. Well, no. As in January, hashtags came out: Je suis Paris, Pray for Paris. But to my surprise and pride,the one words that surfaced were:

“Même pas peur”

Not even afraid. In the kind of words – and language (“même pas”) a ten-year old little boy (or girl) might proudly say in the schoolyard after bullies beat the crap out of him/her. Straighten up, face the bullies and say: “Not even afraid”. The best response to bullies. Which is what all those assassins are: just bullies. They think they are “warriors”? Hah! They’re just bullies. And in their crowd wisdom, the French, mayhap without fully recognizing it, have identified the attackers for what they are: pitiful bullies.

“Douce France” is an old song. And still very much alive. And will live on despite the bullies. Let me share another version, very controversial in its time. (And possibly offensive to some of my compatriots now. Don’t care. I stand up to my choice) This cover was interpreted in the ’80’s by a band of young Arab “immigrés” self-ironically called “Carte de séjour” (Equivalent of ‘Green Card’). Right-wingers such as the Le Pen family were shocked. And claimed the interpretation (in arabic style music) to be offensive. I then found the “cover” a lot of fun. Still do. And still find that if the sons – and daughters – of immigrants sing the words, they are indeed appropriating the words. Douce France is also theirs. And I form the wish that they sing it again. Here is “Douce France by Carte de séjour”:

Même pas peur!

54 thoughts on “Douce France. (Même pas peur)

  1. Great post my friend, bouncy song number one but second wouldn’t upload, error said try later…the universe must thing I can only have so much goodness in a morning, will check back. And a great refresher history course, takes me back to French class, all. Three years. Oh how I barely eked through those years. Peace and love, K

  2. Yes, rather catchy…good beat and danceable too😊 I can see where the concern would be now for some, but you can’t blame and entire race on a few bad apples….I have some Muslim friends and they are kind and caring….just as,upset as everyone else…I say I pray someday love will conquer all. I can pray. Namaste, K

      • Mon Frère is (almost) right. Just an N at the end of mon. You did not call me Father (Papa). Which is just as well if I recall well. And I surmise you’re probably closer to being “ma soeur” than “ma fille”. 🙂
        (Can you Fedex a loaf of bread to Mexico? Disguised as a book of poems maybe, to fool the health authorities?)
        As for your bread, you definitely need some cheese and wine to go with it. 😉

      • I have a round of Camembert, and some Swiss….and I just happened to have bought some red just tonight….I was saving it for tomorrow….but maybe a wee glass….I can get it as far as ElPaso, the rest would be up to you, are you near Juarez? I have friends who work there😊

      • Haha! Will have to take a cheese-check. Or is it rain?
        Thank God I’m not in Juarez, I’d’ve crossed the border long ago.
        I’m in Mexico city which ever so slightly less dangerous. 😦
        A wee glass of wine has been documented by a well-know Brit study to be excellent for your health.
        Sort of dilutes all the cholesterol. and taste good too.
        Of course the entire bottle is not recommended.

      • Yes, quite the scary place…perhaps I shall have one….haven’t had any since last Friday😊red blend….should go nicely with my movie viewing…the Shining…..redrum redrum…..scary good with wine🍷🍷🙃

      • THE shining? Read the book and saw the movie upon release when I was in Grad school in the US.
        Both book and film are masterpieces.
        (One bottle may not be enough though…)
        Joke of course. Half a bottle would make one doze through the movie…

      • Enjoying as we speak….scattman crothers is going to save the family….one glass should be good, but perhaps two….I get new insights each time I watch….creeps me out but I love it. 🙀

      • Oh it was sooooo good. I love that movie and the facial expressions of Jack Nicholson are priceless. had two glasses of wine and the cat that was outside jumped up on the doorknob trying to open in and scared the bejesus out of me, dogs started barking, i about jumped out of my skin. I do so love that movie. You should revisit it, I’ve never read the book, which was better, book or movie?

      • Well your furry friends nearly gave you a heart attack, right?
        Book or movie, the eternal question… Both. Read the book first, Stephen King was barely known at that time. It was his 3rd book, I think, and very well written. Short, catchy sentences, great characters. He lines up a few shelves in my “study/library” where I’m writing now. So, both are very good. And the book is worth reading. You already know the story anyway.

      • I had fun in French class, I think the first translation I learned did NOT sit well with the teacher….but I thought I was ahead of the curve 🙂 It’s like German, although the only sentence i learned was you are an ardvark…..don’t ask my why I knew that ….too many years ago….who would want to be an ardvark?

      • Used by a french general at the end of the battle of Waterloo. He was still fighting with barely a platoon left and the english told him to surrender. The official reply was that he said” The imperial guard dies but does not surrender”. The true word he said to the Brits was: Merde. 🙂

      • Ah Waterloo, that was a fun ABBA song 🙂 I”m just waking up so forgive me for my early morning humor, still yawning but it is Friday so excited for that. I still like the word though. I use it sparingly and I never surrender 🙂

      • Haha, eastern time, this morning was five fifteen, only cause the pups wanted to go out and chase nothing…so much for sleeping in, during the week up at four thirty so I guess it was sleeping in today😊

      • Haha, no, but if I want to get blogging time in, I have to do it early in the am or lunch….evenings spent with the hubby but sometimes I can get him sidetracked in a hockey game and I can then squeeze in a little time then😊 I work in a medical supply manufacturer,,,production planner,,schedule machines, etc….17 years till we sell our house, then a new career. Writing perhaps? Time will tell😊

      • Allow me to commend your courage. I can’t even think of opening an eye at this hour.
        So you do have a relationship with “medic” things. And that is quite a demanding job, even with today’s software tools,
        factory/manufacturing planning is quite delicate.
        Why 17 years? Am I confused, or weren’t you trying to sell your house already?

      • I’ve been here for 17 years but once the house sells, we move down South and the job hunt begins. Hubby is retiring from his job of 35 years, and this morning I awoke at 4:38…got to sleep in. I don’t leave for work till 6 I just get up early because the Internet at work is not allowed to be used by the employees so if I want to work on blogging, etc, I have my iPad that moves like a snail on dry pavement. So up early and the good bit is being able to go outside and star gaze on clear nights⭐️😊 have a great day my friend, four days off coming up and looking forward to it😊K

      • Congrats to hubby on retirement. I see you’ve already put him to paint the shutters in Florida. 🙂
        (If I got that right?)
        ‘Like the image of “snail on a dry pavement”.
        Happy Thanksgiving K.

      • If he’s painting the shutters, it’s because he wants to….although I’m not sure if the house has shutters…he likes doing busy work…so it gives him something to do. Funny, I thought of you this am when the dogs woke me up to go out. Four thirty am…but, day number one of vacation and I went back to bed….just got up…a nice way to begin the day and the sky is so lovely. Have a great day my friend, K

      • Doing busy work is nice. If you stick to wood, metal, and stay away from electronics, normally what you set up to do works.
        Paint shutters (if there are) is rewarding. You accomplish sthg. I learned a lot about… “Bricolage” with my father when we were fixing a two century-old house in Normandy.
        And i’m glad the thought of me drove you back to sleep! 😉 At least you enjoyed a wee bit more sleep.
        What are you going to do for Thanksgiving? It is today, right?

      • Good morning, if you can believe I’m just now getting up and it’s 7:30 although once again I was up at 4:30 and yes thought of you wondering yet again why I wake up so early….dogs wake me up to go out, but went back to bed. And also had this stupid commercial playing in my head when I woke up, a local shop with an older gent singing about “won’t you wear his cat around your neck”…it is truly bizarre but I like waking with amusement instead of crankiness. I looked at the house, no shutters on the outside but there is this hurricane safety blocks that are clear but you can’t see directly at the inside, privacy and protection. But inside there are these nice expensive blinds….my mom said they are pricy things….all I know is,you can close them and block out the world if you’d like.
        Turkey day was indeed yesterday, went to a restaurant for dinner which was good, buffet style so I had two helpings of all of the veggies, ham instead of turkey and of course my favorite pumpkin pie….then came home and watched football….it was a beautiful day. Do you have celebrate the Mexican holidays or just French?

      • Sounds like a nice programme. No Thanksgiving here, Mexican holidays tend to be “days off”. One of them celebrates a victory against the french Army (5 de Mayo) so I generally joke against it with my Mexican friends. French holidays are many but 14th of July, the day of the revolution we tend to celebrate over there, when we go to France. have a nice week-end. (Creature from the dark lagoon?) 😉

      • Ah Cinco de Mayo…one of my fave party days around here…best spent drinking My beer with lime, and the 14th of July, six days after my birthday, so still celebrating🎊🎉🙃 and look, the wacky dogs let me sleep in and extra hour today too….another reason to dance. I was watching a show the other day about Mexico City and the kidnappings….you must be a rich kidnapper, eh? Haha, just kidding my friend. Have you lived down there long? Have a great day😊 Kim

  3. It’s interesting it’s only been a few days and fear is overcoming so many people again. Many governors in the states are refusing Syrian refugees now. But the governor of Washington welcomes them telling us now is not the time to let our fear overcome us. Kudos for his bravery and leadership in making those statements now.

      • Tout-à-fait ça. Un désarroi, comme on on aurait pu dire autrefois.
        Et en voyant ton nom, avec ce final en “ic” prononcé “itch”, je repense aux terribles guerres dans les Balkans qui ont suivi l’éclatement de la Yougoslavie.
        Et tout ça, toutes ces souffrances pour quoi?
        Et le sang qui bouillonne tout autour de la Méditerranée en ce moment?
        Le désarroi…
        Boa Noite menina. Prazer “falar” brevemente com Vc.
        Como vai da saúde?

      • Chut… Je comprends parfaitement.
        (Mais il arrivera aussi un jour où tu n’y pensera même plus, et là, ce sera gagné)
        Meanwhile, as you have seen, all your E-friends are behind you.

  4. Tout à fait d’accord avec toi!et ces mots résonnent en moi, au milieu de Paris juste à ce moment – là. “Même pas peur, même pas mal,” même si un peu quand même mais on vaincra la notre pour les vaincre.
    Encore un bel article.

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