Songs for a Paris Tribute to Hope, Peace, and Love

The attacks in Paris had a profound effect on me, as I’m sure they did many people. I have been to Paris many times and have many friends there and in other parts of France. I rode my bike solo around France in 1988, then moved to Nice for a year with my French boyfriend at the time.

From 1989 to 2000, I led bicycle tours in France for several companies, then started my own bicycle tour company in 2003. I know and love the language, the culture, the history, the savoir faire, and the joie de vivre. My bicycle tires have explored thousands of miles through Provence, Dordogne, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Most of my journeys there over the years began or ended with a few days in Paris, sometimes on my bike. Paris is one of my favorite places on earth.

Paris 2005 004

So I spent Friday and Saturday with a grieving heart following the horrendous events.

ICA member Mark Fiddler posted on Facebook that he was going to play La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) in his class to honor Paris. 

That fired me up to search my playlists for some French songs that would be good for a tribute, plus powerful songs about hope and peace. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. Would you add your suggestions in the comments?

The list is divided into French classics, modern French songs, and non-French tunes. Songs are listed as Title, Artist, Album. When needed, I give the translation of the title or some of the lyrics.

EDIT: Here is the Spotify playlist for this list. Thanks to Laura Iwan for putting it together!

French Classics: Most are about Paris and how wonderful the city is, many from the album Chansons de Paris. They are good ambiance songs before or after class, or for a recovery.

  • Paris, Voici Paris, Tino Rossi, Chansons de Paris 
  • Ca, C’est Paris, Mistinguett, Chansons de Paris 
  • Sous les Tois de Paris, Berthe Sylva, Chansons de Paris 
  • Fleur de Paris, Maurice Chevalier, Chansons de Paris 
  • Non, Je Ne Regrette Bien, Edith Piaf, The Collection 
  • Le Romance de Paris, Charles Trénet, Chansons de Paris
  • La Vie en Rose, Edith Piaf, The Collection 
  • Sous le Ciel de Paris, Juliette Gréco, Radio Tour de France (Modern)
  • I Love Paris, Vanessa Paradis, Best Of (Modern classics)

Other French Songs

  • Ma Libérté de Penser, Florent Pagny, Ma Libérté de Penser, 3:26, 89 bpm
    Great warm-up or fast flat. Translation: My freedom to think.
  • H.O.N.N.E.U.R, Numéro, Sport de Combat, 88 bpm 
    Hip-hop. Translation: Honor.
  • J’Aime la Vie, Telex, How Do You Dance?, 3:10 139 bpm.
    Translation: I love life.
  • Je Veux Vivre, Faudel, L’Essentiel Faudel, 3:11, 116 bpm
    Translation: I want to live.
  • Alive, Kate Ryan, Alive, 3:32, 130 bpm
    Great climb. Words are “I am free, no matter what happens.”
  • Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi, Céline Dion, Radio Tour de France, 3:07
    Good cool-down. Translation: Don’t leave without me.
  • Je Donnerais Tout, Kate Ryan, Alive, 3:09, 125 bpm
    Climb. French version of the song “All for you.”
  • La Route de la Paix, Alpha Blondy, Jah Victory, 3:52, 102 bpm
    Reggae. Translation: The road of peace.
  • Waving Flag (French Version), K’Naan ft. Féfé. 3:39, 152
    ***Really great song.
  • Ne Cedez Jamais, Angelique Kidjo, Black Ivory Soul, 3:57, 100 bpm
    Translation: Never give up.
  • Je Suis, Zebda, Essence Ordinaire, 4:44, 94 bpm
    Great flat road. Hip-Hop. Translation: I am.
    Lyrics: “It’s me. I am, but it will get better.”
  • C’est Une Belle Journée, Mylene Farmer, Remixes 2003, 5:13, 130 bpm
    Good climb. Translation: It’s a beautiful day.
  • La Vie En Rose, Grace Jones, Island Life, 7:26, 88 bpm
    Good first song. Translation: Life through rose-colored glasses.
  • Le Ciel Est Triste, Emou, Still…Pretty Good Year, 9:13, 110 bpm
    Emotional slow climb. Translation: The sky is sad.
  • Le Vent Nous Portera, Noir Désir, Des Visages des Figures, 4:49, 105 bpm
    Translation: The wind will carry us.
  • Tilted, Christine and the Queens, Saint Claude, 3:53, 100 bpm
    Just a nice song, half French, half English

Songs of Inspiration, Victory and Hope (non-French)

  • Wisdom, Justice, and Love, Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns, 1:39
  • Hope, Shaggy, Hot Shot, 4:04, 103 bpm
  • Lanterns, Birds of Tokyo, Lanterns, 3:57
  • This is the Day, The The, Soul Mining, 4:59, 142 bpm
  • Brave, Sara Bareilles, Brave, 3:39, 92 bpm
  • The World, Karmadelic, Flip Your Mind, 5:31, 136 bpm
  • Don’t Give Up (Original Mix), Chicane, Behind the Sun, 8:24, 131 bpm
  • Free, Rudimental (Monti Remix), Rudimental, 5:05, 125 bpm
  • Wake Me Up, Avicii, Wake Me Up, 4:10, 123 bpm
  • This Too Shall Pass, OK Go, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, 3:08, 160 bpm
  • Lift Your Spirit, Aloe Blacc, Lift Your Spirit, 3:26, 95 bpm
  • Alive, Sia, Alive, 4:24, 100 bpm
  • Give Peace a Chance, John Lennon, John Lennon Collection, 4:54, 85 bpm
  • Rise Up, Yves Larock feat. Jaba, Yves Larock’s Classics, 2:52, 127 bpm
  • The Phoenix, Fall Out Boy, Save Rock and Roll, 4:05, 138 bpm
  • Fight Song, Rachel Platten, Fight Song, 3:24, 87 bpm
  • Stronger, Kelly Clarkson, Stronger, 3:42, 116 bpm
  • Holding on for Life, Broken Bells, Holding on for Life, 3:57, 84 bpm
  • Light Up the Sky, Thousand Foot Krutch, The End is Where We Begin, 4:00, 89 bpm
  • Love Generation, Bob Sinclair with Gary Pine, Western Dream, 3:38, 128 bpm

I also saw this Peace for Paris playlist on Spotify. 

EDIT: Make sure you check all the comments below for other great suggestions. Kathy reminded me that a pianist brought his portable piano and played Imagine by John Lennon near the Bataclan the day after the attacks. So that song for SURE is going in my playlist! It’s also very special because that pianist brought his piano towed behind his bicycle!

Bataclan pianist is also cyclist

EDIT: Adding this one to the list!! Love it!


  1. I wrote this song, J’adore la France, on Nov 14, 2015 in 2 hours when a writer for the Huffington Post suggested I write a song for France. Interestingly, a friend made the same suggestion, several weeks earlier.–2Sex9YbMs

    In solidarity with France.

  2. Jennifer – Thanks again for including my playlist in your ICA page on this topic. To introduce the ride, I let everyone know that I wanted to create a ride to give people the opportunity to process some of what they were feeling in light of the events in Paris on Friday, not to dwell on the negative, but to provide a sanctuary for reflection and honor. Although many Americans have never been to Paris, it is one of the few places outside the U.S. that many Americans feel a connection to, and it is for that reason, aside from the obvious horror and sadness of the attacks, that Americans and the whole world feel indelibly marked by these events. And rightly so. The ride was not scripted in any way. I almost forgot to tell them that I lived for two years in Paris, have a BA and MA in French, worked at the French Embassy in the U.S. for two years and have been a French interpreter for ten. I explained that obviously I have a special affection for Paris, but this doesn’t make me any more affected by these events than anyone else who has a heart and a soul. Here is the playlist, which enhanced a profile allowing for three long, moderate climbs, and includes video:
    Paris: un message d’amour
    Paris midi (shake it) – Bloomfield (5:01)
    Opening Scene to Midnight in Paris (video) – (3:12)
    L’effet de serre (The Young Professionals Remix) – Shy’M (3:36)
    This World – Selah Sue (4:48)
    Alain Massabova 40 years in Paris (video) – (6:47)
    Sub City Paris (video) – (2:53)
    The Quiet City, Winter in Paris (video) – (4:06)
    Aisha – Cheb Khaled (4:19)
    Paris Through Pentax (video) – (2:05)
    L’avenir est un long passé – Manau (5:01)
    Come Together – The Beatles (4:21)
    Birds Flying High – Möwe // Solidarité video – (5:02)
    You Surround Me – Erasure (3:59)
    So cold, so sweet, so fair – Clem Beatz (4:39)

  3. Author

    Here is my playlist and profile from yesterday for subthreshold long climbs.

    Pre class: Je ne Regrette Rien, Edith Piaf

    Warm up: La Vie en Rose, Grace Jones

    1st climb:
    Désenchantée (Thunderpuss Club Anthem), Mylene Farmer, 10:05, 129 bpm (64 rpm)

    Recover: I Love Paris, Vanessa Paradis, 2:39

    2nd Climb:
    1. Dilruba, Niyaz, 4:20, 133 bpm (66 rpm)
    2. Le Ciel est Triste, Emou, 9:13, 110 bpm (55 rpm)

    Recover: Ma Liberté de Penser, Florent Pagny, 3:25

    3rd climb:
    Stella (Nalin and Kane Remix), Jam and Spoon, 13:34, 134 bpm (67 rpm)

    Tilted, Christine and the Queens, 3:53, 100 bpm

    Cool-down and post class:
    Imagine, John Lennon
    Give Peace a Chance, John Lennon

  4. One more… One of my favorites for cool down– Carry On by Nate Reuss and Fun

  5. We rode for Paris last night in Gloucester UK. Went for uplifting lyrics as much as possible – here’s the playlist:
    Ma Liberte De Penser – Florent Pagny (thanks Jennifer for this one)
    Freedom – Pharrel Williams
    Rise Up (Praise Cats Remix) – Sunkids ft Chance
    Never Forget You (Kove Remix) – MNEK & Zara Larsson
    Sweet Freedom – Safri Duo ft Michael McDonald
    Lift Me Up ft Nico & Vinz, Ladysmith – David Guetta
    Together – Ella Eyre
    For A Better Day (KSHMR Remix) – Avicii
    Free (Ivan Gough & Jebu Remix) – Rudimental ft Emeli Sande
    Invincible – Tinie Tempah ft Kelly Rowland
    Stronger – Sugababes
    Imagine – John Lennon

  6. Playlist updated with the suggested songs.

  7. Other songs for “strength and courage” rides that I have used are “Hopeful” by Faith Evans and Twista, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, “Survival” by Muse, “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John

  8. Awesome list. I added Peaceful World by John Mellencamp and Ray of Light by Madonna

  9. Je T’Aime, Gainsbourg and Birkin (better than tye Bardot version), 83 bpm
    La Bastoche by Jo Privat for accordion music, good for cheesy but fun 2nd part of warmup (101 bpm)
    Good for recoveries:
    Le Premier Bonhueur De Jour by Francoise Hardy (recovery etc) 88 bpm
    Formidable by Stromae, 144 bpm (powerful lyrics)
    Ne Me Laisser Pas L’aimer by Brigitte Bardot (well, Gainsbourg/Bardot)130 bpm
    Les Passants by Zaz (chirpy modern chanson 154 bpm)

  10. My riders and I will be riding for/standing with France in tomorrow’s class. I may tweak my playlist to add some of your excellent suggestions. One more song suggestion: Manhattan-kaboul, by Renaud (performed with Axelle Red). Renaud wrote the song after 9/11 as an expression of solidarité with the US. It’s a good cool down, very moving.

  11. Imagine was played in the streets of Paris. That will be my last song in my playlist this week!
    Thank you for this list! I will definitely be using a song before class!!!

    1. Author

      How could I forget that one?! I’m going to edit the post and add it with the awesome image of the pianist who played it outside of the Bataclan. He brought his piano there towed behind his bicycle!

  12. where will i get these songs and how much would they cost

    1. Author

      Hi Terri,
      I didn’t have time to source every song, but the cost depends on where you search. If you have Spotify, you can find them to use for “free” (or the cost of the premium membership of $10/month). I don’t know how many are on Spotify. Even if you don’t have the premium version, Spotify is a good place to search for them to listen to see if you would even want to use it to purchase elsewhere.

      You can search the standard resources as well, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, etc.

      Hope that helps!

  13. What a great list Jennifer! Reposting now!

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