Vive La France: 14 French Lessons From English Pop Songs

Happy Bastille Day, everybody. Today France celebrates the day in 1789 when an angry mob stormed the eponymous (our new favorite word) prison in central Paris, freed all seven prisoners - they were really after the guns and ammunition, Clash-style - and touched off the French Revolution. As Karen O sang, heads will roll.

In other words, today is basically France's Fourth of July. It's just a few days late because the French are never in a hurry to do anything. Please let them enjoy it. France has had a tough time lately, between the U.S. women's soccer team's World Cup semifinal victory Wednesday, propping up bankrupt European neighbors like Ireland and Greece, and this whole Dominique Strauss-Khan mess.

Rocks Off has never been to France, something we very much hope to remedy one day. As a Texan, we feel a certain affinity for the French. France and the Lone Star State are about the same size, while the people share a taste for boeuf and spirits and, shall we say, a certain haughty opinion of themselves. For anyone who is lucky enough to be going over soon, we searched out some handy travel advice from some notable English-speaking songwriters.

Visitors To France Needn't Bother Booking a Hotel Room

"When it's good as it can be, it gets better, wait and see/ Oh, these folks don't ever sleep till they're passed out in the street"

- Grateful Dead, "France"

France Can Be Difficult to Locate By Boat

"The wind carries into white water/ Far from the islands/ Don't you know you're never going to get to France"

- Mike Oldfield, "To France"

Note: Rocks Off doubts Her Majesty's Royal Navy would agree with this one.

They Have a Somewhat Liberal Attitude Towards Public Hygiene

The girls is all salty/ The boys is all sweet/ The food ain't too shabby/ An' they piss in the street"

- Frank Zappa, "In France"

There's No Fellatio Like French Fellatio

"They got diseases like you never seen/ Got a mystery blow-job turn your peter green"

- also Frank Zappa, "In France"

Jerry Lewis Has Nothing On Weird Al

"Every Frenchie that I meet/ Just can't wait to kiss my feet/ Get in line, pucker up/ Toute Suite!"

- Weird Al Yankovic, "Genius In France"

Public Telephones Can Be Difficult to Find

"And I looked round for a telephone/ To say 'Baby I won't be home'/ I was lost in France in love"

- Bonnie Tyler, "Lost In France"


The French Take Their Pastries Very Seriously

"La Bolduc and El Boidi, duking it out for a piece of the pie/ And I finally got mine/ The lemon-meringue kind"

- Kimya Dawson, "France"

French Girls Are Very Difficult To Get Over

"Choking and smoking to your angelic soul/ Choking and smoking myself into a hole/ Where the only way out is to sleep and to dream/ And to cry out your name"

- The Libertines, "France"

Watch Where You Walk, Or You Might Trigger a Live WWI Artillery Shell

"The trenches have vanished long under the plow/ No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now/ But here in this graveyard that's still no mans land/ The countless white crosses in mute witness stand"

- Dropkick Murphys (and many others), "Green Fields of France"

The Streets Can Be a Little Rough, But They Can Handle It

"Flat tire on the paving stones/ The bicycle is repaired quickly"

- Kraftwerk, "Tour de France"

The Produce Is Better Than a Marriage Proposal

"And when I promised my hand/ He promised me back/ Snow cherries from France"

- Tori Amos, "Snow Cherries From France"

The Public Transportation Is Remarkably Efficient

"Walks to the station, tears running down/ I got news/ My baby, done left town"

- Ry Cooder, "France Chance"

They Have Absolutely No Problem With Public Displays of Affection

Young love was kissing under bridges/ Kissing in cars/ Kissing in cafes/ And we were walking down Main Street/ Kisses like bright flags hung on holidays

- Joni Mitchell, "In France They Kiss on Main Street"

France Is a Stripper-Lover's Paradise

"There's a place in France where the ladies wear no pants/ There's a hole in the wall where the men can see it all"

- Folk song commonly known as "Streets of Cairo" or "The Poor Little Country Maid"

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