The Most French Famous Christmas Song: 'Petit Papa Noël'

Petit Papa Noel / Petit Papa Noël

France's most popular Christmas song, "Petit Papa Noël," was made famous by the late French singer Constantin "Tino" Rossi. Nearly every French person knows the first lines of the chorus of this song; children learn it at school. It's about a child singing to Santa, telling him to please not forget to drop toys for him but feeling guilty because the night is cold, and Santa may get cold.

In the French rendition of the song, note that un soulier is a very old word for une chaussure (a shoe). Also, le refrain refers to the chorus. For ease of translation, and to help students in their language studies, each stanza in French is followed by its English Translation

Lyrics to "Petit Papa Noël"

Le refrain:

Petit papa Noël
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers
N'oublie pas mon petit soulier.
Mais avant de partir
Il faudra bien te couvrir
Dehors tu vas avoir si froid
C'est un peu à cause de moi.

Little Santa Claus
When you come down from the sky
With thousands of toys
Don't forget my little stocking.
But before you leave
You should dress well
Outside you will be so cold
And it's kind of my fault.


C'est la belle nuit de Noel
La neige étend son manteau blanc
Et les yeux levés vers le ciel
A genoux, les petits enfants
Avant de fermer les paupières
Font une dernière prière.

It's the beautiful Christmas night
The snow spreads its white coat
And their eyes raised towards the sky
On their knees, the little children
Before closing their eyelids
Address a last prayer

Le refrain

Le marchand de sable est passé
Les enfants vont faire dodo
Et tu vas pouvoir commencer
Avec ta hotte sur le dos
Au son des cloches des églises
Ta distribution de surprises.

The sandman has passed
The children are going to sleep
And you will be able to begin,
With your sack on your back,
To the sound of church bells,
Your distribution of surprises.

Le refrain

Il me tarde que le jour se lève
Pour voir si tu m'as apporté
Tous les beaux joujoux que je vois en rêve
Et que je t'ai commandés. 

I can't wait for sunrise
To see if you brought me
All the lovely toys that I see in my dreams
And that I ordered from you.

Le refrain

Et quand tu seras sur ton beau nuage
Viens d'abord sur notre maison
Je n'ai pas été tous les jours très sage
Mais j'en demande pardon.

And when you are on your beautiful cloud
Come first to our house
I wasn't always very good
But I ask for your forgiveness.

Le refrain

Christmas in France

As you study this famous French Christmas song, note that French "Noël" traditions are quite different than in the U.S. and other countries. Even the French Santa Claus is a bit different. Other helpful ways to study the French Christmastime, include:

With your holiday studies complete remember to say: Joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année! (Happy Holidays!)

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "The Most French Famous Christmas Song: 'Petit Papa Noël'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. (2023, April 5). The Most French Famous Christmas Song: 'Petit Papa Noël'. Retrieved from Chevalier-Karfis, Camille. "The Most French Famous Christmas Song: 'Petit Papa Noël'." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).