Charles Trenet – La Mer (French Lyrics English Translation)

La Mer – Song Overview & History

The song “La Mer” (meaning: the sea) is the most successful song of French singer Charles Trenet (1913 – 2001). Recorded in 1946 just after World War II, it is the most famous French songs of all time after Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose”. The song appeared on Trenet’s album, “La Mer / Seul … depuis toujours”.

Trenet originally wrote the song’s lyrics in his teens. However, he wrote the tune to the song later in life in 1943 while traveling by train in southern France and looking out of the window at Étang de Thau. The song was done in the style of chanson, which is a lyric-oriented French song.

La Mer became an international hit during the 20th century with thousands of recordings and millions of albums sold.

Other notable recordings of the song were released by Bing Crosby and Julio Iglesias among others. The song has also been featured in many films including  L.A. Story (1991), French Kiss (1995), and Mr Bean’s Holiday (2007).

La Mer lyrics analysis

The song’s lyrics offer a poetic images of the sea with the lines depicting images of shimmering and dancing reflections with waves like white sheep and angles.

A des reflets d’argent / des reflets changeants

These words in the opening of the song lyrics translates to “has reflections of silver” and “has changing reflections”. These are images of “dancing” sea under the rain that Trenet describes.

Ses blancs moutons, Avec les anges si purs

This line translates to “its white sheep, with so pure angles”. These are meant to be metaphorical images for the sea’s white waves.

Bergère d’azur, infinie

This line translates to “shepherdess of infinite blue”. Here, Trenet is suggesting that the sea is a shepherd to the white sheep described in the previous line.

Voyez, Près des étangs

This line translates literally to “see, near the ponds”. In the context of the sea, Trenet is probably referring to tide pools.

Ces grands roseaux mouillés

This line translates to “these tall wet reeds”. Ternet is making reference to a sea reed which probably grows along France’s seashore.

Et ces maisons rouillées

This line translates literally to “and its rusted (or rusty) houses”. According to the Word Reference definition for rouiller, another translation of rouiller “to dampen”. Thus, we used this translation in the context of houses dampened by the rain and sea waves.

La mer les a bercés…a bercé mon coeur pour la vie

The French verb bercer translates to rock, cradle, lull and soothe. In this line, we believe Trenet is suggesting that the sea cradled or soothed the houses and birds mentioned in the previous lines. We interpret “a bercé mon coeur pour la vie” as having a soothing or calming effect on him during his lifetime.

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La Mer Charles Trenet Lyrics & Translation

La Mer French Lyrics & English Translation

La mer
Qu’on voit danser
Le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d’argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

The see that you can see dancing
Along the clear gulfs
Has reflections of silver
The sea
Changing reflections
Under the rain

La mer
Qu’au ciel d’été confond
Ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer
Bergère d’azur, infinie

The sea
Under the summer sky blends
Its white sheep
With so pure angles
The sea
Infinitive shepherdess of blue

Voyez
Près des étangs
Ces grands roseaux mouillés
Voyez
Ces oiseaux blancs
Et ces maisons rouillées

See
Near the ponds
These tall wet reeds
See
These white birds
And these dampened houses

La mer
Les a bercés
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d’une chanson d’amour
La mer
A bercé mon cœur pour la vie

The sea
Cradled them
Along clear gulfs
And of a love song
The sea
Cradled my heart for life

La mer
Qu’on voit danser
Le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d’argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

The see that you can see dancing
Along the clear gulfs
Has reflections of silver
The sea
Changing reflections
Under the rain

La mer
Au ciel d’été confond
Ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer
Bergère d’azur, infinie

The sea
Under the summer sky blends
Its white sheep
With so pure angles
The sea
Infinitive shepherdess of blue

Voyez (voyez)
Près des étangs (près des étangs)
Ces grands roseaux mouillés (voyez ces roseaux)
Voyez (voyez)
Ces oiseaux blancs (ces oiseaux blancs)
Et ces maisons rouillées (la-la-la-la-la-la)

See
Near the ponds
These wet reeds
See
These white birds
And these dampened houses

La mer
Les a bercés (les a bercés)
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d’une chanson d’amour
La mer
A bercé mon cœur pour la vie

The sea
Cradled them
Along clear gulfs
And of a love song
The sea
Cradled my heart for life

Listen to La Mer

Watch the following YouTube video of La Mer and follow along with the lyrics above.

Listen with YouTube

Listen with Spotify

If you have an account with Spotify you can also listen below.

Discover lyrics to more classic French songs:

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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