Mistral Gagnant par Renaud

Renaud, for me, is the quintessential French singer.  He has been singing since the seventies and has a vast repertoire of songs.  Many of his songs are fairly provocative in nature, but he has recorded some very tender ones as well.  I have enjoyed his music since my initial discovery of it in 1983 when I was on my first-ever trip to France as a 16 year old host student in the Champagne region.

“Mistral Gagnant” is from the 1985 album of the same name.  It is a beautiful evocation of the fleeting nature of time and our lives.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Mr. Paul-Georges Rodrigues Milhano was kind enough to send me both the lyrics and his excellent translation of “Mistral Gagnant” as well as images of the candy Renaud references in the song.  Merci M. Milhano!

Mistral Gagnant

(Renaud Séchan) – 1985

A m’asseoir sur un banc cinq minutes avec toi/Sitting on a bench five minutes with you
Et regarder les gens tant qu’y en a/And watching people while there are [people]
Te parler du bon temps qu’est mort ou qui r’viendra/Talking to you about the good times gone or coming back
En serrant dans ma main tes p’tits doigts/Squeezing in my hand your tiny fingers
Puis donner à bouffer à des pigeons idiots/Then feed grub to stupid pigeons
Leur filer des coups d’ pieds pour de faux/Pretending to kick them
Et entendre ton rire qui lézarde les murs/And hearing your laughter crawling the walls
Qui sait surtout guérir mes blessures/[Laughter] which knows how to heal my sorrows
Te raconter un peu comment j’étais mino/Telling you a bit about how I was when a kiddo

Les bonbecs fabuleux qu’on piquait chez l’ marchand/The fabulous sweets we nicked in the shops
Car-en-sac et Minto, caramel à un franc/Car-en-sac[1] et Minto[2], caramel for a franc
Et les mistrals[3] gagnants/And the winning mistrals

A r’marcher sous la pluie cinq minutes avec toi/Walk again in the rain five minutes with you
Et regarder la vie tant qu’y en a/And watch life while there is[life]
Te raconter la Terre en te bouffant des yeux/Telling you about the world while I gaze at you
Te parler de ta mère un p’tit peu/Talking about your mother a bit
Et sauter dans les flaques pour la faire râler/And jump in the puddles to make her moan
Bousiller nos godasses et s’ marrer/To wreck our shoes and splurge
Et entendre ton rire comme on entend la mer/And hearing your laugh as we hear the sea
S’arrêter, r’partir en arrière/Stopping, going backwards
Te raconter surtout les carambars d’antan et les cocos bohères (Boers)[4]/To talk to you especially about les carambars and the cocs bohères (Boers) of my youth

Et les vrais roudoudous qui nous coupaient les lèvres/and how the roudoudous cut our lips
Et nous niquaient les dents/and ruined our teeth
Et les mistrals gagnants/and the winning mistrals

A m’asseoir sur un banc cinq minutes avec toi/Sitting on a bench five minutes with you
Et regarder le soleil qui s’en va/And watching the sun as it goes down
Te parler du bon temps qu’est mort et je m’en fou/To talk to you about the good old days that are dead and to say I don’t care
Te dire que les méchants c’est pas nous/To tell you that we aren’t the bad ones
Que si moi je suis barge, ce n’est que de tes yeux/If I am crazy, it’s only in your eyes
Car ils ont l’avantage d’être deux/Because they have the advantage of being two [eyes]
Et entendre ton rire s’envoler aussi haut/And hearing your laugh flying as high
Que s’envolent les cris des oiseaux/As fly the birds’ shrieks
Te raconter enfin qu’il faut aimer la vie/Finally telling you that we must love life
Et l’aimer même si le temps est assassin/And loving it even if time kills
Et emporte avec lui les rires des enfants/And takes with it the children’s laughter
Et les mistrals gagnants/And the winning mistrals
Et les mistrals gagnants/And the winning mistrals


1.  A small sweet tasting of liquorice (picture in annex)

2. Similar to car-en-sac

3. Mistral is, in this song, a sweet, and not the wind prevalent in the South of France. And they are said to be
winning because they used to put winning tickets, in the bags, so kids could win more sweets.

4. Liquorice powder in small metal boxes (two sizes existed… a small one and a larger one).


Figure 1 – Car-en-Sac

Figure 2 – Mistral

Figure 3 – Roudoudous

Figure 4 – Carambar

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